Everything you need to know about the Nexus 9


nexus-9-tabledThe newly announced Nexus 9 is available for pre-order today, but what’s the hype over the latest Google slate all about? Here’s a primer on the newest member of the Nexus family — the first Android device to launch with the Lollipop update.

Hardware & Design


The Nexus 9 (designed and manufactured by HTC under the Google’s guidance) offers a compromise when it comes to size, but it doesn’t compromise when it comes to its spec sheet. An 8.9-inch display equates to a form factor with a smaller footprint than a 10-inch slate but more screen real estate than 7-inch options. This best-of-both-worlds approach should appeal to a wide range of users. A thickness of 7.9mm and weight of 425g (WiFi model) make for a light and portable device.

We mentioned that HTC and Google didn’t cut corners when it came to hardware. Here’s the spec highlights for the Nexus 9:

  • 8.9-inch IPS LCD (2048×1536, 4:3 aspect ratio)
  • NVIDIA Kegra K1 (64-bit dual-core Denver CPU @ 2.3GHz)
  • Kepler GPU
  • 2GB RAM
  • 8MP rear, 1.6MP front-facing cameras
  • 6700mAh battery

The Nexus 9 also features front-facing HTC BoomSound speakers (as well as 3.5mm headset jack), dual microphones, MIMO WiFi 802.11ac, and LTE connectivity options. Google promises battery life of up to 9.5 hours for media playback and WiFi browsing with standby times of up to 30 days.

Android 5.0 Lollipop & Timely Upgrades

Lollipop-Forrest-Cropped large

The Nexus 9 will be the first device to ship with Android 5.0 Lollipop. The operating system update is best known for its visual overhaul dubbed Material Design. Material Design aims to create a familiar but custom-tailored interface across Android devices, allowing users to seamlessly transition from their smartphone to tablet to smartwatch and even TV with the new Nexus Player. Material Design relies on responsive animations to create visual feedback to interface interactions, creating a more tangible experience that feels intuitive and natural.

Other improvements include enhanced notifications and multitasking as well as a new battery saver feature to squeeze every last minute out of a waning charge. The Nexus 9 takes advantage of Lollipop’s capability to allow access to Google Now voice commands even when the display is powered down. User’s simply speak and their tablet responds.

Under-the-hood improvements include Project Volta, again focused on improving battery life, and the transition to the new ART runtime. ART replaces the Dalvik runtime that has long been a part of Android and promises better application speeds and an overall performance boost.

Because the Nexus 9 is a Nexus device, it will not only be the first to launch with Lollipop but it will also be first in line to receive future Android updates. With a direct line to Google, updates will push to the Nexus 9 as soon as they are available. Carrier and manufacturer interference will not slow down the process. When Android 5.1 is ready, Nexus users will receive it before anyone else.

Media Machine


The Nexus 9’s abundant power and efficient Android 5.0 operating system make it the perfect device for reading, web browsing, streaming video, gaming, and more. Access to the Google Play Store gives puts over 1 million apps and games, a huge library of books, and nearly endless music and movies right at the users fingertips. Entertainment options on the Nexus 9 are nearly endless.

The N9’s 192-core Kepler GPU promises desktop-grade graphics and the 64-bit NVIDIA Tegra K1 is future-proofed for the next generation of mobile software. The dual BoomSound speakers provide immersive audio for movies, games, and music alike.

Keyboard Dock


A separate keyboard dock will be available for the Nexus 9, doubling as a productivity tool and stand for hands free entertainment. The dock features magnetic attachment and a folding design that allows users to position their Nexus 9 at the perfect angle for work or play. The full-fledged keyboard turns the N9 into a potential replacement for a laptop when it comes to tasks like document creation, email, and more.

Configuration Options & Pricing

The Nexus 9 is available today for pre-order in a variety of configurations via Best Buy, Amazon, and the Google Play Store. Pricing starts at $399 for the WiFi-only model with 16GB of internal storage. The WiFi model with 32GB sells for $479. A WiFi + LTE version with 32GB of storage is available for $599. All options will be available in one of three colors: lunar white, indigo black, and beige.

Retail availability begins November 3rd. Pre-orders are expected to arrive on or before that date.

Kevin Krause
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  1. So it IS a dual-core? Google doesn’t list how many cores in the official spec page, and I have read it quad-core else where too.
    nVidia KEGRA?

    1. Quad core 2.3ghz nvidia tegra K1

      1. Actually Denver is dual core 64 bit processor.
        The 32-bits Tegra K1 is quad-core.

        Just done some research :)

        1. Yup Denver 64bit is dual core and the 32core K1 is quad.

      2. Dual core but with insane performance per core that outpaces advanced quads.

    2. Cores aren’t that big of a concern.

      The new instruction set from ARM is likely the huge performance boost. Remember that Apple on the 5S saw a huge boost in performance that was almost entirely related to the v8 instruction set. The K-1 is the first mainstream Android processor running that instruction set. Yeah, it’s a duo core and it’s fast per core, but the v8 is really the star of the show here.

  2. Is there anyway to use the Nexus 9 to make presentations on a VGA projector? HTC doesn’t seem to have included an mhl or slim port connector.

    1. HDMI to VGA connector and chromecast?

  3. Not sure what they’re doing with the display ratio, the rest of the specs are very nice but most people use tablets for media consumption, so netflix, youtube, games video files and the internet will highly used.

    Productivity? I don’t use my tablet for much that could be described this way but it has nothing to do with the display ratio, and has everything to do with the fact I have PC in the house which does these tasks a hundred times better. I oftern connect to my PC using remote desktop from my tablet if I’m lazy and that isn’t going to work very well from a 4:3 display.

    Given the 16Gb version will almost certainly be the most popular I don’t see the point, unless all you do is read books…. but if that’s the case you should buy an ebook reader.

    1. From an alternate perspective….

      I’ve an iPad from work that I use when traveling. I’ve never had problems with media consumption. I use it for “productivity” when traveling; Office 365 and Office for iPad have been nice improvements. I leave my laptop behind unless I REALLY need it; most of the time, I don’t.

      I’ve a Kindle, and it’s useful for reading books. But it’s not so good at reading PDF journal articles. So I use my iPad, because I can annotate the files as I read them. Plus, the display is the same proportion as the articles.

      But I find iOS continually limiting, even though it’s getting better. And, if Office for Android Tablet ever sees the light of day, the Nexus 9 would be VERY appealing.

      In the world I live in, most documents are 8.5×11, not 8.5×14.

      1. Actually I prefer the 16:9 ratio on tablets for using word apps as in portrait mode the onscreen keyboard takes up a lot of space on the bottom, works quite well especially if your using a keyboard that lets you alter the keyboard height.

        But for just viewing documents 4:3 is definitely better suited, however the size of text when you squeeze some documents down to 8-9″ isn’t exactly easy to read anyway, id rather use landscape if I was just reading so I don’t think it matters.

        1. That makes sense, although I tend to “produce” using an external keyboard, so the onscreen keyboard isn’t a big issue.

          I don’t have any problems reading the text of documents on my iPad. But, if I’d gone with the Dell Venue 8 Pro or the Asus Vivotab Note 8, then I probably would.

          As a desktop monitor, I’d complain loud and long if displays went back to 4:3. But, for a tablet, I actually prefer it. To each his/her own, I guess.

          1. I don’t think it matters to be honest, we get used to what we have and adjust our use accordingly.

            There are always pros and cons users can throw about but like you said it will come down to user preference.

    2. 16GB isn’t a problem if you can USB OTG.

      I got (2) 64gb MicroSDs with a meenova reader. Movies are not a problem in terms of storage.

      My #1 holdup on the Nexus 9 is lack of confirmation regarding USB OTG.

  4. I really want one of these, but the $500 32GB pill is a tough one to swallow.

  5. 479, 599, and 650 for the N6…can we start using the term “Google Tax”?

  6. I reaaaalllllyyy want this, but damn, I’d *have* to get the 32GB to truly enjoy it, and that’s gonna require some strong self discipline to save up for. I’z got billz yo

  7. ‘Media machine’ ???

    I don’t think so Phandroid. With the 4:3 aspect ratio its a productivity device.

    In landscape orientation the N9 is basically going to be the same size as the N7 for 16:9 material, i.e. games, movies. The N9 is a rip off as a media machine and that’s why I wont be upgrading my N7 just yet.

    1. 100% agreed

  8. Looks pretty awesome, although the price jump from 16 to 32gb seems pretty steep for that little storage; a 16gb MicroSD card is only like $15. And the lack of SD card slot is killing me.

  9. Still want to know more about it. Not quite everything I wanted to know I guess. Also what’s the deal with 4:3 ratio? Seems like they’re trying to appeal to the Apple fans work a ratio like that.

    1. 4:3 is a better ratio than 16:9/10 for everything except videos and games

      1. But it is a MEDIA CONSUMPTION device

  10. I really just want to touch one or at least see someone review it. Is rather finger one myself though. That would be more fun. Are there any retail stores going to have them out to see and try? I wish they’d be out to try before you can preorder. I want to be sure I want one. I am curious if they’ll have any issues with early orders having manufacturing defects like when the nexus 7 first came out. I wouldn’t want to deal with that.

  11. One nagging question before I place my order. Does anyone know whether I can connect an OTG micro usb with a female USB 2.0 or 3.0 cable to the 9 so that I can connect my external hd with a male USB cable to view movies on the tablet? Do I need to install the Nexus Media Importer app to the tablet? Some OTG cable vendors say I don’t have to whereas some do? Who is right? Bottom line – can I do what I want to do – watch movies from an ext source? Thanks for any help.

    1. Yea you should be able to. I don’t see why you shouldn’t.

    2. Android 5.0 has it allegedly built it. And The nexus Media Importer should bypass any software restrictions.

      My biggest concern is that the tablet won’t provided sufficient power to a MicroSD reader similar to how the Google gimped the Nexus 4.

  12. Why does Google have a problem putting a micro usb slot on all of their devices? I love to be able to add storage. The 64 Gigabyte SD card in my S4 allows me to carry ton of things..ie HD movies, music and etc. This is why I may opt for the Galaxy S tab 8 instead of the Nexus. I wonder how many sales Google misses out on over such a small thing to add to the device?

    1. If I’m not mistaken, (which I could be wrong) MicroSD support isn’t natively supported in Android. I know for sure at one point in time it wasn’t, and it was a manufacturer decision to add it in, but I don’t know it it was ever added on a system level. I believe that I read somewhere that expandable storage causes slowdowns in the system, and cloud storage is the best way to circumvent that. Or it could just be a load of crock and Google wants to force you to use their services. Who really knows?

  13. Finally pre-order of the Nexus 9 is available at Amazon: http://amzn.to/1CFYwLV

  14. I guess I’m still hung up on the price. I was really hoping that it would cost less than a nexus 10, that’s why I was waiting. It would have been a sure sell for me if the price was somewhere between a nexus 7 and a nexus 10. Given the price it seems like the point of the nexus 9 is to have a tablet in the lineup with a competitive form factor and price of the smaller iPad. I’m disappointed

  15. If the $400 had 32GB of flash and 3GB of RAM I would have put in an order already. But $70 for an extra 16GB of flash is a bad joke, and I’m worried the RAM won’t be enough. Too bad, I really liked the Nexus 7’s. Maybe I’ll get one of last year’s model.

  16. This isn’t “Everything.”

    Can we get a confirmation on USB OTG?

    16GB isn’t a big deal if the N9 supports OTG.

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