By Khurram Aziz | Dec 03, 2012 08:16 PM EST
Speculation is mounting that Google is planning an even cheaper version of its $199 Asus-made 7-inch Nexus 7 tablet.
The rumors follow benchmark tests which show a new Asus tablet, model ME172V, with a weaker processor and lower screen resolution than the existing Nexus 7, running Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean.
The tests, from GL Benchmark, shows that the device has a 1024x552pixel display resolution with a processor clocked at between 600MHz and 1.08GHz.
The current Nexus 7 has a 1280×800pixel display with a 1.2GHZ quad-core Cortex-A9 processor.
There's no actual indication that this device will be a Google-branded Nexus 7 device, but in October Taiwanese website DigitTimes suggested Google was readying to debut a $99 tablet in Q4 2012.
"The $99 Nexus tablet is equipped with an ARM-architecture single-core processor 8950 developed by China-based WonderMedia Technologies, and a HUVA TN panel made by Taiwan-based HannStar Display, the sources said. The tablet will be produced by Taiwan-based Quanta Computer," a source told DigiTimes.
At the time Google denied that it was working on a sub-$100 tablet so it could be the Asus device benchmarked is a standalone budget slate running the latest version of Android.
Interestingly, the benchmarked device is also shown with a microSD slot which the Nexus 7 does not have, further indicating that this is likely a separate budget tablet from ASUS.
Google launched the Nexus 7 in July this year marketing it at $199 for the 8GB version and $249 for the 16GB version.
It has since introduced a 32GB version priced at $249, reduced the price of the 16GB version to $199 and no longer markets the 8GB version.
The 32GB version sold out quickly after its launch in November but is now once again available on Google Play.
Google's price drop was in response to the launch of Amazon's Kindle Fire HD, which also released a 32GB and 16GB 7-inch tablet in November priced at $199 and $249 respectively.
Profit margins on both devices are low, according to reports, with both Amazon and Google using their flagship tablets to lock customers into their content ecosystems rather than making money on the devices themselves.
The cheaper Asus device seen in the benchmark may itself be intended for markets outside the US and Europe.
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