Thursday, June 25, 2015

"Fix" your 2012 Nexus 7 slowness on Android 5.0 Lollipop and above.

If you've got a 2012 Nexus 7, then updating it to Android 5.0 Lollipop and over is likely to be the worst mistake you can make in regards to the software on this tablet. If you did not upgrade it yet to Lollipop, I would recommend NOT doing it (yes, I know, update notifications can be annoying). If you updated it, then just keep reading. I will explain to you what you can do in order to relieve yourself from the stress that any 5.0 and above firmware is creating while using the tablet.

There is one single thing that can be done in order to fix the incredibly poor performance of the tablet: to downgrade it to Android 4.4 KitKat or below. Trust me, I have tried almost 10 different ROMs which run from 5.0 all the way to 5.1.1, and I am still trying to understand what is going on through the head of whoever is responsible at Google for providing these updates on the tablet.

Luckily, since it is an Android tablet, downgrading is extremely simple.

  • if you've got a tablet with an unlocked bootloader and a custom recovery, I would recommend following getting this link and getting the provided ROM (it is pre-rooted). I've got the Odexed 1.6 version and it works flawlessly. Since you are downloading this version, I assume you already know how to flash that (gapps are included and do not need to be flashed separately);
  • otherwise, you can follow this official link for the official Factory Images (I would recommend downloading the 4.4.4 image). More detailed instructions are available here, but please make sure you are downloading a pre-Lollipop version and flashing that on the device, not the latest version which is 5.1.1!

The reason for the extremely poor performance of the 2012 Nexus 7 on Lollipop ROMs is not clear. People speculate it might be due to flash wear-out but this is highly unlikely due to the fact that KitKat is running as new once installed. It is true that it has only 1GB of RAM and the pressure for low prices might have forced Asus to put low quality (thus slow) components that provide insufficient IO speed. But that does not explain the fact that a similar device which was also sold cheaply, the Nexus 4 is absolutely flying through Lollipop (the Nexus 4 does have 2GB of RAM, but this is not an excuse for the low memory killer on all Lollipop versions not being much more aggressive in order to keep the tablet usable, this, of course, provided that RAM was the culprit). 

Thank you for reading these and please let me know if downgrading to KitKat managed to help you!