A solid case with a few neat tricks, but how can it ever be worth the price?
Google is no stranger to releasing disproportionately expensive accessories for its inexpensive devices. Since the days of the Nexus 4, you've been paying a premium to have an official "Google" accessory from the Play Store. The Nexus 7 Folio, the latest $49 case from Google for your tablet, falls right in line with that history.
The first thing you'll notice about this new accessory is that it follows much the same design (and two of the same colors) as the recently-released Nexus 5 Bumper Case, although this offering is ironically more of a "bumper" than what's available for the phone. The Nexus 7 Folio will cover just the edges of your tablet, with either the back or front protected by a flip cover, depending on whether you're using the device or not.
Let's see if it's worth your investment.
Design-wise, as we said, the Folio case is more of a bumper. It certainly protects a good portion of the tablet considering that the entire back is exposed, however, with the hard rubberized plastic wrapping around the back edges considerably. The situation on the front is a bit less protective, as the edges of the case simply cover the plastic sides and stop right at the edge of the glass screen. If for some reason you ever set the Nexus 7 face-down with the Folio on and the cover on the back, the screen would still be protected from the other surface.
The case is rigid with just enough flexibility to make it easy to pop on and off the tablet when you want to — something that isn't always the easiest balance to strike. All along the inside of the edges you'll notice ribs of plastic that keep the case from flexing and fit the Nexus 7's curvaceous sides nicely, likely aiding in that rigidity. The headphone, USB and microphone ports are all exposed, but you get extra button overlays to manipulate power and volume — considering how rigid they are, the buttons work very well.
Beyond the bumper-style edges, the big selling point of the Folio is its screen-protection-turned-tablet-stand cover. The cover has two fold points, and attaches to the left side of the bumper portion with hinges that interestingly let it get completely out of the way behind the tablet while in use. The outside of the cover is a hard rubber-like material with the same pattern that adorns the Nexus 7 Sleeve, while the inside is a luxurious microfiber material.
The cover does have the requisite magnets for sleep/wake functionality on the Nexus 7, as well as cleverly-placed magnets that lock the lid into a triangle shape when folded back as a stand. Not only does it give a small bit of elegance, but when combined with the hinge design it also gives an extremely stable stand for your tablet in either upright or flatter orientation. Sadly, the magnets don't hold the cover down when it's protecting the screen.
At $49.99 plus some tax and shipping (our order with 2-day shipping totaled $67.87), is the Nexus 7 Folio worth it? There's no doubt that this is a well-made case that fits the Nexus 7 impeccably and has some great function, but it's hard to say that it's worth that price tag. Even Google's own Nexus 7 Sleeve is just $29.99, and of course there's a decent selection of third-party folio-style cases for the Nexus 7 for just a fraction of the price of Google's own.
But if you do decide to spring for the real deal from Google, you won't be disappointed by the quality and utility of the Nexus 7 Folio.