Nexus 7 Android 5.1 Lollipop Impressions & Performance

Earlier this week Google officially announced and confirmed the highly anticipated Android 5.1 Lollipop update for many key Nexus smartphones and tablets. For now it’s rolling out to the Nexus 5, Nexus 7, and Nexus 10, with the Nexus 6 and more devices set to receive the latest software in the coming days.

Google first released Android 5.0 Lollipop in October, but quickly released both an Android 5.0.1 and 5.0.2 software update aimed at fixing bugs and improving performance, but those didn’t address all users problems. The device plagued with the most issues since the Android 5.0 release is the original Nexus 7 (2012) and below are our thoughts and impressions after the Android 5.1 Lollipop update. This update should address most problems and save the original Nexus 7.

Read: How to Install Android 5.1 Lollipop Right Now

Android 5.1 Lollipop is a major software update to the initial Android 5.0 Lollipop software that arrived back in October, and is set to fix tons of bugs, improve performance and battery life, and is an overall maintenance update that is severely needed following countless complaints on an array of devices. Read on for how Android 5.1 runs on the original (2012) Nexus 7.

google-nexus-7-review 2

Google’s first tablet, the original Nexus 7, is still kicking and running strong. It has been one of the first devices to receive updates over the past few years, and was the first to Android 5.0, as well as Android 5.0.2 Lollipop. With Google’s latest release Android received a complete visual overhaul with tons of animations, colors, effects, better battery life, notification pulldown bar redesigns and more.

Android 5.0 Lollipop is one of the biggest changes to Android in a long, long time, but sadly it wasn’t a good move for some. The original Nexus 7 has absolutely been plagued with problems since getting Lollipop. Users have flooded our inbox, forums all over the web, Google’s support pages and more expressing frustration over all the problems.

Read: Android 5.0 vs Android 4.4 KitKat: What’s New in Lollipop

The Android 5.0 Lollipop update for the Nexus 7 made the tablet useless for many owners. Users have called it a paperweight, a dead tablet, a waste of money and more since the update. From freezing, video playback issues, app crashes, poor battery life, charging problems, issues with even installing the update and more. For whatever reason the Nexus 7 (2012) didn’t have a fun time updating to Lollipop, but we have good news.

Android 5.1 Lollipop has saved the original Nexus 7. At least for us.

Nexus 7 Android 5.1 Update

While Google announced Android 5.1 earlier this week, we’ve yet to see updates arrive through the typical over-the-air update fashion. This is because Google does a very slow, gradual, and staggered rollout to make sure there are no show-stopping bugs in the software release.

That said, Google has released the factory images for the Android 5.1 update for the Nexus 5, Nexus 7, and Nexus 10. We went ahead and manually flashed the Android 5.1 factory image (how to at the top of the page) and did a completely fresh install of Android 5.1 Lollipop on the Nexus 7. And it’s working beautifully.

Screenshot_2015-03-10-19-12-44

Most of the problems plaguing the Nexus 7 can be solved by doing a factory data reset and wiping all information from the tablet. Essentially giving users a fresh install of Android 5.0.2 Lollipop, but even after that we still saw countless complaints. My own 2012 Nexus 7 was barely usable. There was considerable lag, crashes, freezing, and just general odd behavior. All of which, seems to be gone after the Android 5.1 update, but more on that below.

For now users can expect the Nexus 7 Android 5.1 update to arrive as an OTA update in the next few days, and continue arriving over the next few weeks. If you don’t get it today, or tomorrow, be patient as it will arrive soon enough. That, or flash it manually with the how to we mentioned at the top of the page.

Android 5.1 Performance on the Nexus 7 (2012)

Like many owners, my Nexus 7 was almost unusable after the Android 5.0, Android 5.0.1, and Android 5.0.2 Lollipop updates. It crashed constantly, games would freeze and most wouldn’t even work, we have video playback issues, and battery life took a HUGE hit. These are just a few of the many complaints. It was so bad in fact, that many have sold their devices, I gave mine to a family member, and it was just all around a bad situation.

For whatever reason Lollipop wasn’t playing nice with the Nexus 7, but that’s no longer the case. Yesterday we installed Android 5.1 on the original Nexus 7 and I’ve yet to have a sinlge problem. Not one crash, not one app has froze, and I’ve played back plenty of YouTube video, tried Netflix, and even watched a movie with Sling TV all without issue. It’s safe to say the original 2012 Nexus 7 Android 5.1 Lollipop is essential, and a must download for all owners. This should completely fix most problems.

Apps

Using the new Tap N Go Restore function I was able to restore about 60 apps I had downloaded to my original Nexus 7, which took around 15 minutes on Wi-Fi, and I have had a single problem. From playing HD games like Clash of Clans, checking out the latest sports news with Bleacher Report, to watching video on Netflix and Sling TV. Not one problem. This is extremely good news for sad and frustrated owners, and you’ll be happy to know the Nexus 7 should be in much better shape after this update.

Nexus7-5-1

In Android 5.0 Lollipop Google confirmed there was a “memory leak” problem that was causing erratic behavior in many apps. Apps would crash, freeze, or just get laggy. This happened extremely quick for some, or would take a few days to finally start happening. A reboot would fix this temporarily, but not for long. As far as we know the memory leak problem was fixed with this update, and from our initial impressions the Nexus 7 on Android 5.1 is running smooth as butter. Yes, it’s finally smooth like it should be. This is a drastic improvement over what we were experiencing with Android 5.0.2 Lollipop.

Nexus 7 Android Lollipop Battery Life

Overall the Nexus 7 Android 5.1 Lollipop battery life is good. In a day of use there is no fast draining, which we would expect if there was a battery life bug or problem. The Nexus 7 standby battery life is also very good, with only a minor drop overnight. The Nexus tablets traditionally do not offer the best standby battery life compared to some of the competition, but Google put in tons of effort with Android 5.0 (and 5.1) to improve battery life. And while we’ve only had it installed for a day, so far things are looking very promising. Expect a full review with more details early next week.

WiFi & Bluetooth

Connectivity is a major area of concern after any update, especially a large one like this. After installing Android 5.0.1 Lollipop on the Nexus 7 we had Wi-Fi drops constantly. However,  I now can connect to multiple WiFi networks and surf the web without any problem. Bluetooth is also working just as it was before the update, though it was broken for some Android 5.0 users. I connected a pair of Bluetooth headphones without issue, and even tested it with a JAMBOX for good measure. Update without worry.

Screenshot_2015-03-10-19-10-40

Shown above is one of the many new features of Android 5.1 Lollipop, which is the improved notification pulldown bar. To take things further, Google’s improved the quick settings. Right inside the pulldown bar you can tap the small arrows and switch, search, and connect to Wi-Fi in seconds, rather than fumbling through settings. It’s a nice touch, and is working great here with the orignal Nexus 7.

Video Playback

As we said above, video playback is finally working wonderfully again on the Nexus 7. The original updates killed video playback, caused it to be choppy when it did worked, and borked Google Play Movies and TV. That’s no longer an issue. From Netflix and Sling, to the free Transformers movie currently available on Google Play Movies. They all work great so far.

Speed

The original Nexus 7 from 2012 is certainly starting to show its age. With Android 5.1 built for any device, including Android One budget phones for emerging markets, there’s no reason the Nexus 7 and its quad-core processor can’t run it smoothly. We’re happy to confirm that after the Android 5.1 update speed is back to what we expected, and wanted. Everything still runs smoothly including the starting and switching apps. So far overall speed, performance and reliability is great on the original Nexus 7 after updating to Android 5.1 Lollipop.

Should You Update to Android 5.1?

In short, YES! The initial Android 5.0 Lollipop update caused a lot of problems and left many owners angry and frustrated, but you’ll all be happy to know that the device works much better after this latest update. Sure, there will still be bugs here and there, some may have issues after updating, and we recommend a full wipe and completely fresh install for the best results.

If you are already on Android 5.0 on the Nexus 7, this is an update you should install. It delivers an important bug fix that will keep you from accidentally erasing your Nexus 7 and there are no major known bugs with Android 5.1 so far.

For users still on Android 4.4.4, this is still a hard question. While Android 5.1 Lollipop looks great, performs much better than previous versions of Lollipop, and delivers a new look, it still may not be as smooth as the device was a year ago. Nexus Android 5.0 problems are still floating around, but most have been curbed by the new 5.1 update.

All said and done, we’d recommend all Nexus 7 (2012) owners update to Android 5.1 Lollipop once it becomes available. For more details on what’s new, see our comparison and walk-through below.

Android 5.0 vs Android 4.4 Walkthrough: What’s New in Lollipop

Android 5.0 vs Android 4.4 - Lockscreen

Android 5.0 vs Android 4.4 - Lockscreen

 With Android 5.0 Lollipop Google has slightly improved the lockscreen. There's now a shortcut to the dialer by swiping left to right, and notifications are more useful and interactive. Shown right on the lockscreen they can be swiped away, slide down to expand, or double tap to instantly unlock right into that app or notification. Everything is simple and smooth, and we still have full-screen album artwork on the lockscreen while playing music.

The quick shortcuts and improved notifications will come in handy for all users.

22 Comments

  1. John Iker

    03/21/2015 at 1:55 am

    seeing as how both Samsung and LG have been staunch supporters of your Android programs my question to you is why can I not update my samsung galaxy s5 to lollipop 5.0 at least if not 5. 0.1,Or. 2?I have just about reached the maximum capabilities of my 4.4 version of Android so when are you going to let us have it an answer would be really awesome thank you

    Reply

  2. Terry

    03/21/2015 at 2:38 am

    Even with 5.1 my nexus 7 2012 was still awful , until I cleared the cache memory. The difference was immediate and dramatic – everything back working properly (so far, anyway). You have to enter ‘recovery mode’ but it’s very easy to do.
    Please do try it!

    Reply

  3. Ripon

    03/27/2015 at 9:47 am

    (now i m used nexus 7, 5.0.2) if i installed update5. 1 what will be problem? 5.0.2 is slow perfomance

    Reply

  4. Sanjay Madhavan

    04/06/2015 at 5:29 am

    I am running 5.1 and have cleared the cache via recovery. Still the tablet lags at times. It is usable but still far too much lag. Im going back to 4,4,4

    Reply

  5. techguyman

    04/16/2015 at 3:46 pm

    I have a nexus 7 (2012) and after all updates (over the air) phantom/ghost touches still persist and is unusable so if you haven’t updated please do not update as the newer the firmware the worse your tablet gets.

    Reply

  6. Grim

    04/21/2015 at 7:37 am

    Do a factory reset on your Note 4. All battery life problem solved.

    Reply

  7. Henry

    05/02/2015 at 2:09 am

    I updated my nexus 7 2012 to 5.1 and made a factory reset. It is much better than 5.01 but now the fliping from landscape to portrait mode does not work anymore. It is not the sensor, because it works ok in recovery mode and it worked also ok even with 5.0!.

    Stay away of lollipop 5 if you have not updated from 4.4.

    Google ruined my device!

    Henry

    Reply

  8. THar

    05/10/2015 at 5:00 pm

    5.1 did nothing. Still crashes all the time, low battery, internet drop out every 10 minutes, apps crash and run slow, lag, I mean I press the google search from the home page, easily takes 5 minutes to even recognise. Do the pull down menu from the top, about 30 seconds before it realises, and qaudrouple that if you actually want to use any of the features. I mean, did google not bother to update a neus 7 with lollipop when they were developing it? Are they offering repairs and refunds? Are they even recognising the issues? At least I have a fancy looking chopping board for my potatoes now.

    Reply

  9. joe cos

    05/15/2015 at 6:29 pm

    My Nexus 7 2012 is still running very very slow. I am going to go back to KitKat stay away from lollipop in any of its versions. Very unhappy with Google’s support.

    Reply

  10. John

    06/12/2015 at 1:15 pm

    Lollipop made my Nexus 7 2012 unusable. I’ve had it for 3 years and for two and a half I loved it. I struggled for months waiting for a fix. Constant app crashes, looking at you chrome, lockups and hanging. One night a almost flung it and decided that enough was enough. I went with a custom recovery and cyanogenmod 11.2x. This brought me back to 4.4.4 and life is awesome again. I also tried variations of cyanogenmod 12. Better than google but still not good. Nexus 7 2012 users, stay away from Lollipop. Period.

    Reply

  11. Hugely Disappointed User

    06/19/2015 at 5:03 am

    How the hell is it that everyone’s still experiencing the same issues except for you, author?!

    I have to say that this ridiculously long review, which doesn’t actually say all that much and where you pretty much repeat yourself over and over again, is absolutely thwarted by the quantity of terrible comments other people are leaving.

    Be honest; did Google pay you to write this?

    After having upgraded to 5.0.1 and then downgraded back to 4.4.4, I’ve resigned myself the this version which works just fine. The only thing I wish Google would give me at this point is a way to permanently remove the absurdly annoying statusbar update notification.

    [Still] Hugely Disappointed User

    Reply

  12. Mathew

    06/19/2015 at 6:33 pm

    Battery life on my Nexus 7 (2012) has dropped significantly. Probably because the tablet a) took so LONG to do anything that I’d fall asleep waiting for a program to open, or simply react to my touch, and thus b) the battery drained to the point of automatic shutdown several times, both because of a) and because of c) even with the screen shut off, resting quietly on a table, the battery would drain about twice as fast as it did before 5.X.X (all of the Lollipops are worse than before, honestly.) I just today learned about and tried the “wipe cache” trick, and so far it doesn’t seem to have fixed all the problems… I’ll need a day or so to see if there’s truly any improvement.

    With the battery draining faster than it used to, and charge time running INSANELY long, I’m to the point of starting to look at how to replace the battery in this thing. If I do that, the next item on the agenda will surely be to see what Cyanogen has out there for me. They made my old original dInc get up and play really well, after all.

    Reply

  13. Gail

    06/21/2015 at 6:06 am

    How can I go back to 4.4.4with 5.1 my tablet is unusable

    Reply

  14. Nemo

    07/05/2015 at 5:14 am

    You can go back to 4.4.4 by flashing it via fastboot. Google it and watch some clips on YouTube. It’s not too difficult. I went back to 4.4.2 because the latest firmware was too bad. But then someone said that Ota update could be the cause of all those crashing and lagging and he suggested flashing 5.1.1 via fastboot using adb blab blab blab. As I had done it once, I thought I could give it a try. So I flashed my N7 again and now it is running 5.1.1. The tablet is usable now, it is better than it was.

    Reply

  15. aravind

    07/06/2015 at 10:07 am

    I updated my tab to 5.1.1 … So good till now

    Reply

  16. Jon

    07/13/2015 at 5:31 am

    Android 5.1.1, like earlier fixes for my 2012 Nexus 7, quickly deteriorated. Again this tablet, a wondrous device when new, was painfully slow and buggy. Final solution: another hard reset, erasing all data. Then – Do not sign in with your Google account; ignore “Authentication Required” prompts. Do not add any other accounts or apps.You’ll be left with a fairly stable Chrome browser and GPS map device and you can use a web-based email service (though probably not gmail).

    The tablet is no longer fun to use but you’ll be less likely to throw it across the room.

    Reply

    • THar

      07/13/2015 at 10:13 am

      the worst thing about 5.1.1 is that it means my tablet can no longer connect to my wifi. being used as a second screen device for my computer via home wifi network, it has made it even more useless. a wifi only tablet unable to connect to wifi is pretty pointless.

      Reply

  17. mspohr

    07/23/2015 at 1:07 pm

    I have to second the many comments here. I had the same problems with my 2012 Nexus 7 and early versions of Lollipop so I reverted to 4.4 and all was well. After months of nagging and reports such as this glowing article, I succumbed to the “upgrade” message.
    I have to report that 5.1.1 has again killed my Nexus 7. It’s laggy, crash prone and impossible to play YouTube or other video.
    PITA!

    Reply

    • Joe cos

      07/23/2015 at 3:01 pm

      One way to help the lag is to install a memory booster app. It helps to get my Nexus 7 back to a usable state for a few hours. Its that damn memory leak that they need to fix on the Nexus 7 until they do that this new update is @rap!

      Reply

  18. Veeresh

    08/30/2015 at 9:46 am

    After I updated my motoe 1st gen to lollipop my booster apps at not working I tried everything else bit they are not working

    Reply

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    08/30/2015 at 10:59 pm

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    Reply

  20. S. Walker

    01/28/2016 at 11:42 am

    What helped my grouper Nexus 7 (2012), and saved it from 5.1.1, was to disable Google Play Store (which didn’t really disable it, but rather rolled it back to factory version). It was a paperweight, prior to that. As soon as I did that, I got some semblance of speed! It’s not perfect, but the change was huge.

    The official Google help support technician claimed that the 2012 version is going to get Marshmallow soon, but I highly doubt that. There is an AOSP version of Marshmallow you can try, or you can try CyanogenMod or other ROMs. The version of CyanogenMod that I tried was paperweight-ish, and difficult (for me, anyway) to upgrade.

    Other things I’ve done to increase speed:
    * Disable auto-updates of apps
    * Turn off “Hey Google” voice recognition
    * Disable start-up programs that slow boot time, and/or run in the background
    * Wiping the cache, etc. I like All-in-One as a utility app.

    It’s fairly usable now. HTH

    Reply

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