Android tablet with best battery life?
June 14, 2014 8:56 PM   Subscribe

My cheapo Android tablet finally gave up the ghost. I'm in the market for a new, nicer one and thought about getting the Nexus 7*. But searching around, it seems to have a lot of problems with battery life, even when on stand-by. I don't play games or watch videos or even listen to music much on a tablet. My main use case is reading and annotating pdf articles and books, especially when traveling (long flights) when battery life is kinda important. Are these battery life concerns for the Nexus 7 founded? Is there another Android** tablet that does better?

*I just saw today that there are rumors of a new Nexus tablet coming out soon, but I have some work trips coming up and can't really wait. Plus, the prices are coming down for the Nexus 7.
**I know iPads have great battery life, but if there are any Android tablets that have at least decent battery life, that would be easier for me. I can switch if I need to, but I'm already familiar with the Android apps that work well for me (and I've already bought them!).
posted by bluefly to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I have two Nexus 7 tablets. I haven't noticed battery life being a problem. I don't think it would be an issue on a long-haul flight if you have the WiFi receiver turned off, and if you don't watch too many videos.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:00 PM on June 14, 2014

First gen N7 was shit in every way (shit screen, shit build quality, shitty 16gb nonexpandable storage, shit battery life and of course the shit OS that was Android ICS) but the second gen is an improvement in every way and battery life on mine is good. Not spectacular- that would be the Surface 2- but good.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 9:05 PM on June 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'd go with the Nexus 7. I have a first-gen that's acceptable, but I would definitely go with the newer second-gen model these days. I haven't noticed battery life to be much of an issue, but if you're really worried, I'd suggest getting a travel battery pack that charges via USB. The Wirecutter did a review of some not long ago. Great part about having a battery pack is that it'll work for just about any of your portable electronics.
posted by Aleyn at 9:25 PM on June 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

My first-gen Nexus 7 has perfectly fine battery life. Mine gets about 6-8 hours of screen-on time depending on what you're doing (videos obviously eat it up much quicker), and supposedly the second-gen model improved on that.

I'd wait about a month to pull the trigger on one, though. Google's annual I/O conference is scheduled for June 26 and they're likely to announce the next round of updates there - if there's a third-generation N7 in the works, that would drive prices on the 2013 model down.

(Also, as a point of order the 2012 Nexus 7 shipped with Jelly Bean)
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:44 PM on June 14, 2014

My household has three Nexus 7s, and we have no problem with battery life--with WiFi on and fairly heavy use, I routinely unplug in the morning (maybe eight a.m.) and use it all day (reading/gaming/skype), then have ~50% remaining when I plug it in around midnight.
posted by MeghanC at 10:22 PM on June 14, 2014

Buy a Nexus 7 now, sell it if a better one comes out. Lose very little.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:33 PM on June 14, 2014

OK! Y'all have convinced me. I had seen some complaints of the battery draining a lot while on stand-by and in airplane mode because of some kind of bug, but I wasn't sure if that was widespread or not.

I'm not sure I can wait for the new version to be announced. I have some trips coming up pretty soon, including some transatlantic travel. I love working on planes, and I don't want to squander all that wonderful uninterrupted reading time. (I suppose I could go old school with paper, but transferring notes to my computer and managing not to lose any of the articles is a nightmare I'd rather not have to go through). The prices are already under $200 for the 16gb 2013 Nexus 7. Will they go much lower?
posted by bluefly at 11:02 PM on June 14, 2014

A USB battery pack is very handy to have when traveling.
posted by unmake at 12:31 AM on June 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

I had a battery drain problem on my first gen N7 after a particular OS update but it got fixed with a later update. They took a while to release the fix and that was annoying, but other than that I do like this tablet.
posted by bread-eater at 12:58 AM on June 15, 2014

You can get these little rechargeable USB sticks from sites like dealextreme for a few dollars that are really just external usb batteries. They're small and will extend the life of your phone or tablet on those longer flights. That said, we have two Nexus 7s in our home and I never hear complaints about battery life from my kids.
posted by mecran01 at 2:26 AM on June 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

While my Nexus 7 is physically working fine, the networking is awful. That might be unique to my tablet. I'm sitting here with my older netbook running fine streaming live video while typing this out, while my Nexus 2nd gen. can 't even connect without timing out. I have continual problems doing even the most trivial network operations, browsing for example, or running Youtube clips. This thing is a paperweight in the making. Only posting this because I feel like a bit of a rant. Battery works fine.
posted by diode at 6:35 AM on June 15, 2014

Have you pulled the back cover off for any reason? I had similar problems with my (2012) tablet for a while until I realized one corner hadn't been seated properly when I popped it on again, and when I locked it into place all my connectivity problems went away.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:44 AM on June 15, 2014

I have both generations of the Nexus 7, liked the first one so much that I have it to my wife and got the second generation one when it came out. No issues with either battery life or networking ability.

Now ask me about bad battery and random network performance on my iPhone 5S...
posted by arcticseal at 7:18 AM on June 15, 2014

I'll pile on the N7 love. I have a first gen one. I use it constantly and have little trouble with battery life, connectivity or anything really. I just wish I had the $$$ to upgrade to a newer one.
posted by kathrynm at 7:38 AM on June 15, 2014

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