Everyone seems to be complaining about their Nexus 7 tablets slowing down over time. Sure, this is anecdotal — but there are a lot of anecdotes. We’ll cover a variety of ways to speed it up.
Many people report that the update to Android 4.2 slowed down the Nexus 7. However, it seems that many issues can cause Nexus 7 slowness. We’ve looked all over the web to see the tricks people recommend.
Free Up Some Space
Many people report that the Nexus 7 slows down as it fills up. When the 16GB Nexus 7 gets to about 3GB of storage space left, it begins to slow down. Filling up your Nexus 7′s storage space causes its write speed to slow down, slowing down the system.
This will be even more of an issue if you have one of the original 8GB Nexus 7′s, which doesn’t give you much wiggle room for storage space. If it’s slowing down, try removing apps and files to free up space.
Run TRIM (LagFix or ForeverGone)
Due to a bug with the driver for the Nexus 7′s internal Samsung NAND storage, Android on the Nexus 7 was not properly issuing TRIM commands to clear unused sectors. This caused write speeds to slow down dramatically. This was fixed in Android 4.1.2, and Android should now properly be issuing TRIM commands to the internal storage.
However, this update does nothing to fix existing sectors that should have been TRIMMed in the past, but were not. To do this yourself, you can try the LagFix app from Google Play (it requires root). This app is a frontend to the fstrim utility, and it will TRIM your empty storage, fixing this problem.
If your tablet isn’t rooted, you’ll need to use Forever Gone, which will fill your storage up with empty files and then delete them, causing Android to issue the TRIM command on the storage.
If you want to test whether this is actually doing anything, you can run the Androbench storage benchmark app before and after to test your NAND storage write speeds and see if they improve.
Disable Currents Background Sync & Other Background Apps
As we noted in our Nexus 7 troubleshooting guide, Google Currents syncing is a notorious cause of lag on the Nexus 7. If your Nexus 7 is too slow or isn’t responding to touch events properly, open the Currents app, go into its Settings screen, and disable the Syncing option. This will prevent Google Currents from constantly downloading and writing data in the background.
You may also want to disable background-syncing in other apps, or set them to sync infrequently — similar problems could be caused by other apps downloading and writing data in the background.
Some users on Reddit have reported that lag with Android 4.2 can be fixed by disabling location access on your tablet. This will prevent apps like Google Now and Google Maps from determining your current location, but it’s worth a try if your tablet is behaving so slowly. You’ll find this setting under Settings -> Location Access.
Use the AOSP Browser, Not Chrome
Okay, let’s be honest — Chrome is very slow on Android. Chrome is speedy enough on Google’s Nexus 4, but that’s because the Nexus 4 has much more powerful hardware than the Nexus 7. Chrome on the Nexus 7 is rather slow — scrolling in particular can be very jerky. Chrome has improved since the Nexus 7 was introduced, but its performance is still nowhere near good enough.
Android’s included browser — known as the AOSP (Android Open Source Project) Browser — is faster than Google Chrome. In particular, scrolling is much smoother. However, the AOSP browser doesn’t have Google Chrome’s excellent syncing features.
Google doesn’t include Android’s default browser with the Nexus 7, but you can install it anyway if your Nexus 7 is rooted. Just install the AOSP Browser Installer app and use it to install the AOSP “Browser” app on your tablet.
Delete Multiple User Accounts
If you have multiple user accounts set up on your Nexus 7, you may want to disable them. When you have multiple user accounts set up, apps on other user accounts are syncing data in the background — so if you have three user accounts, three different Gmail accounts will be syncing in the background at once. It’s no surprise that this can slow things down on the Nexus 7′s older hardware.
If you can get by without multiple user accounts, delete any other user accounts and just use a single one. You can do this from the Settings -> Users screen.
Wipe Your Cache
To speed things up, you may want to try wiping your cache partition from Android’s recovery menu.
First, shut your Nexus 7 off. Press and hold the Volume Up + Volume Down + Power buttons to power the device on — it will boot into the below screen.
Use the Volume Up and Volume Down keys to select the Recovery mode option, and then press the Power button to activate recovery mode.
Select the wipe cache partition option with the volume keys and tap Power. This will clear all your cached app data, which may help speed things up.
Troubleshoot With Safe Mode and Factory Reset
If your Nexus 7 is slow, you can try booting it into safe mode, which will boot a clean default system without loading any third-party apps. This will let you know if third-party apps — perhaps widgets, live wallpapers, or other apps doing work in the background — are slowing your system down.
You can also perform a factory reset and start over from scratch. Much of your data is synced with your Google account, including a list of apps you had installed, so you will be able to restore much of your data after the reset.
Downgrade or Install Custom ROM
If you think Google messed up the Nexus 7 with Android 4.2, there’s good news — you can downgrade your Nexus 7 back to Android 4.1.2. You’ll just need to download the appropriate factory image from Google and flash it with the included .bat file. We can’t guarantee this will fix your speed problem, but it’s worth a try if you remember your tablet being much faster with Android 4.1 and none of the above methods have worked so far.
As on any Android device, you may also want to install third-party ROMs like Cyanogenmod.
The reality is that the Nexus 7 didn’t have amazing hardware when it was introduced over a year ago. It’s no surprise that the Nexus 7 is slower than the iPad Mini and other tablets, as the Nexus 7 just has a slower chipset inside. NVIDIA’s older Tegra 3 chipset just isn’t competitive with the latest hardware. For this reason, Google is widely expected to launch a new Nexus 7 with updated internals in the next few months.
Do you have any other tips for speeding up a Nexus 7?
Image Credit: Johan Larsson on Flickr
Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.
- Published 05/26/13