The Nexus 9 Android 5.1.1 Lollipop update finally arrived earlier this month after nearly 6 months without a single update, and it delivered a collection of fixes for the tablet that may solve a memory leak that troubled some devices with slow performance, not to mention improve battery life and add new features.
Google’s Android 5.1.1 Lollipop update is currently rolling out to the Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Nexus 7, Nexus 9, and eventually will hit the Nexus 6 smartphone. After spending nearly two weeks with Android 5.1.1 Lollipop on the Nexus 9, here’s our initial thoughts. For details on how to install it yourself, see the link below.
With this update comes a number of fixes for Android 5.1 problems, as well as fixes for the original 5.0 release. Many users have complained about battery life issues, app crashes, and random reboots. By now most users should have received the over the air update, and those debating whether or not to install it, our thoughts below should help owners decide.
Since being released back in November the Nexus 9 has only received one update to Android 5.0.1 Lollipop. That’s it. Since then we’ve seen Android 5.0.2, Android 5.1, and then Android 5.1.1 Lollipop all arrive for almost all Nexus smartphones and tablets. All while the Nexus 9 was stuck on 5.0.1 for months.
The initial Android 5.0 Lollipop update was riddled with little bugs and issues that were plaguing all users, and that includes those with the Nexus 9. Apps were crashing, performance wasn’t that great, gaming was oddly terrible on the Nexus 9, and it was just an overall sluggish device. Things that were unexpected for Google’s new flagship iPad-like premium 8.9-inch Nexus tablet.
I’ve spent nearly two weeks using the Nexus 9 on Android 5.1.1 Lollipop, and below are a few important things owners need to know before continuing with the update, or buying a Nexus 9.
Nexus 9 Android 5.1.1 Installation
Google actually announced the Nexus 9 Android 5.1.1 Lollipop update on May 7th, but it didn’t arrive for anyone. At least no reports of it surfaced. Then on Monday the 11th after a few days of waiting the over the air update finally surfaced, and the factory images were posted to Google’s servers, allowing users to download and install it right away instead of waiting. It’s currently still rolling out now for all users.
The update is fairly large in size, as it will be taking users with a Nexus 9 from Android 5.0.1 (or 5.0.2) to the latest Android 5.1.1 Lollipop release. It has a lot of new features, tweaks, and software improvements to make the experience better.
Users can head into settings > about tablet > and check for updates now to try and manually get the update, otherwise it should arrive over the air and in your notification bar in the next few days. You can always try the manual way to update, using our link at the top of the page.
For us, we received the over the air update, and it was a smooth upgrade experience. It took a few minutes to download, then a couple more to reboot and install on the Nexus 9. Within about 10 minutes I was back up and running with a completely improved device. One that’s faster, smooth, and seems a bit more stable. But more on that below.
Nexus 9 Android 5.1.1 Review
Shortly after installing the Nexus 9 Android 5.1.1 update, we shared an early look at the performance and any issues. In the two weeks since this update arrived I’ve used the Nexus 9 more as part of my daily routine to see if there are any improvements and to look for problems or bugs with Android 5.1.1.
It is important to keep in mind that our experiences may vary due to the apps installed on the Nexus 9 and the way that different owners use the device, or update it. You can use this Android 5.1.1 review to decide if the Nexus 9 Lollipop update is worth installing on your tablet.
Nexus 9 Android 5.1.1 Performance
Honestly, it could be better, but so far we are enjoying a much better experience than what was offered since being released in November. The Nexus 9 is now faster, smooth, more stable, and appears to have better battery life, but not by much. The Nexus 9 is an extremely powerful tablet but the initial Lollipop release wasn’t nearly as smooth as many expected, but now that Google’s refined everything with Android 5.1.1, this device flies. Everything is buttery smooth, fast, fluid, and appears to be running like a well oiled machine.
I’m actually pleasantly surprised by the noticeable increase in performance and general smooth operations. The Nexus 9 still seems to have a little stutter here and there while gaming, which could just be the display, but it is actually noticeably better overall. The update should not only improve the speed and performance, but there should be fewer bugs, and no more app crashes.
Lately a lot of Android 5.x updates have caused issues for many owners, with bugs plaguing almost each release. Most notably the Nexus 5 and Nexus 7. Our Nexus 9 being updated over the air from 5.0.2 to Android 5.1.1 Lollipop was easy. I’ve yet to see any apps crash, or any major problems that would have me not recommend users upgrade.
As far as apps go I’ve yet to experience any problems since updating to Android 5.1.1 Lollipop. We’re not sure in the famed “memory leak” problem has been solved, but we aren’t seeing any complaints either. So maybe Google fixed this and didn’t mention it. The Nexus 7 had the most problems, so most Nexus 9 owner may not be as vocal about issues, nor has the tablet been as popular in terms of sales.
So far I’ve played games like Clash of Clans, World of Tanks, and Zynga Power, as well as ran Facebook, Instagram, Robird for Twitter, browsed the web, and used nearly every social network, all without fail. I watch TV by streaming Sling TV most evenings, and that entire experience has been great. No problems, lags, or crashes. In the two weeks of usage I haven’t had any crashes, and I’m not experiencing any random reboots either.
As far as we can tell all the major issues with the memory leak, as well as general stability has all been improved or fixed here. I’ve had no complaints in two weeks, but then I only use it an hour or so at a time.
WiFi & Bluetooth
Connectivity is a major area of concern after any update, especially a large one like this. And while the Nexus 9 didn’t have too many issues, we’re not experiencing any either, so that’s a plus. I’ve used my Nexus 9 around the house, a doctors office, in a Hotel in California and connected to the JAMBOX speaker via Bluetooth all with no problems. WiFi, Bluetooth seem perfectly capable, and stable. Update without worry.
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 the settings menu. The same works for Bluetooth for easy pairing. They’ve even added little animations to the icons, tap the signal bars icon for a quick glance at data usage, and more. It’s a nice touch, and is working great here on this Nexus 9.
Nexus 9 Android 5.1.1 Battery Life
The Nexus 9 doesn’t have the best battery life of any tablet I’ve used, but it isn’t bad either. Android 5.0 Lollipop should offer good battery life, and things appear noticeably better on 5.1.1 for me. The changes made should make the dual-core 64-bit Denver processor run more efficient, use less power when not needed, and handle tasks in a slightly different fashion. Overnight the battery drain was somewhat low, and this morning my Nexus 9 appeared to handle all my games and Sling TV streaming better than weeks prior. Overnight I lose about 9%, and wake up with 91% when it is fully charged before bed. Sometimes a little less if I get a lot of emails. Although one night something kept the Nexus 9 awake, and I had 78% battery life remaining.
So far battery life seems improved, but not by much. That said, we’ll take whatever we can get. Google put in tons of effort with Android 5.0 (and 5.1, and 5.1.1) to improve battery life, and we have no general complaints in this area.
With Android 5.1.1 built for any device, including Android One budget phones for emerging markets, there’s no reason the Nexus 9 and its powerful 64-bit NVIDIA processor can’t run it smoothly. This is why some of the performance issues were surprising when it first launched, but they’ve all been fixed in Android 5.1.1 Lollipop.
The tablet doesn’t just feel faster, it is faster. Apps open quickly, flipping through homescreens is fluid and smooth, and it is a top end experience people expect when they buy an expensive $399 tablet. Everything still runs smoothly including the starting and switching apps. So far overall speed, performance and reliability is great since updating. I’ve notice a big increase in gaming performance and multi-tasking, two things the Nexus 9 seemed to struggle with before.
Bugs & Issues
Even though Android 5.1.1 is a bug fixing update, there is a chance that there can be other issues and bugs hidden inside the update. At this point I have not observed any new Android 5.1.1 bugs or problems on the Nexus 9. Usually these surface after a week or two, but I’ve yet to find any. This is a good sign, and we feel confident in saying users should update their tablets.
You can check out the Google Nexus Help forum for more information and to see if other users report problems with Android 5.1.1 Lollipop.
Should You Update to Android 5.1?
The Android 5.0 Lollipop release caused a lot of problems for devices that received updates to it, and the Nexus 9 launched with some of those on board, then was the last to get an update. Sure, there will still be bugs here and there, and some may have issues after updating, but we recommend a full wipe and completely fresh install for the best results.
If you are still on Android 5.0.1 on your Nexus 9 and didn’t get 5.0.2, expect a few updates to be arriving soon. Android 5.0.2 didn’t fix anything, but this new Android 5.1.1 release is set to deliver you the best Nexus 9 experience possible.
At this point we see no reason to warn users against accepting the Android 5.1.1 Lollipop update notification once it arrives, and if you’d rather not wait, the steps at the top of the page can get you this latest software release right now. So yes, we’d recommend users download and install the Nexus 9 Android 5.1.1 Lollipop software update. Hopefully the Nexus 9 is one of the first to receive Android M later this year.