Nexus-branded hardware has rarely been known for impressive optical prowess when it comes to taking pictures or shooting video - after all, the Nexus 10 and last year's Nexus 7 featured a marginal 5MP rear-facing camera, with 1.9MP on the former and 1.2MP on the latter around front.
HTC and Google appear committed to ditching that reputation with the Nexus 9, however, courtesy of an 8MP rear camera with auto-focus and LED flash plus a 1.6MP front camera, both capable of f/2.4; we'll remain skeptics until our review goes live, but for now it's a step in the right direction.
As one might imagine, the Nexus 9 comes packing the latest and greatest technology, including a Gorilla Glass 3 display with a unique double tap to wake feature plus quad-band GSM and CDMA, penta-band HSPA and LTE and 802.11ac 2x2 (MIMO), all of which should produce faster wireless connectivity than earlier Nexus tablets.
By comparison, the dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi found on the Nexus 7 2013 looks positively poky, while the Nexus 10 at least improved things slightly with the addition of MIMO+HT40 wireless; both models feature older variations of Corning's Gorilla Glass, however.
HTC has also infused the Nexus 9 with dual front-facing BoomSound speakers, dual microphones, NFC Bluetooth 4.1 and a magnetometer, all of which make Android 5.0 Lollipop a much tastier treat than older models; Google will also be offering a magnetically attached keyboard case for the Nexus 9.
Some things never change, however: All three Nexus tablets feature 2GB of RAM, with either 16GB or 32GB of internal storage with no opportunity to add more, which seems like a lost opportunity in this era of the 128GB iPad.
We're pretty much declaring the Nexus 9 a winner based on specs alone, although there's one downside for Nexus 7 fans: A larger price to match the bigger display, putting the 9 on equal footing with the Nexus 10 at $399 (about £250, AU$455) for the base model compared to a wallet-friendly $229 (UK£200, AU$299) for the smaller model.
Potential buyers will have to wait about two and half weeks for the Nexus 9 to land in stores starting Monday, November 3, but early adopters can stand in virtual line to pre-order one this Friday, October 17 from the Google Play Store.