For a long time one of the valid knocks against Android has been the fragmented process of pushing out updates. Whenever Google releases a new update, the #1 burning question is “Will my phone even see this update?” For some time now, the conventional wisdom on the Internet (I know, take it for what it’s worth) has been that if timely updates done right are what you’re looking for in an Android device, then your best bet is to go with the Nexus line.
But what’s a fella to do when even his Nexus can’t get updated in a timely manner? Or even worse, that update bricks the device it was supposed to improve? Unfortunately, many Nexus 9 users are finding themselves asking that question, and there seems to be no answer in sight.
A couple of weeks ago, I was in the market for a tablet. As someone who has no problem being platform agnostic, I was torn between an iPad Air and a Nexus 9. Ultimately it came down to already having an Android phone and Chromebook, so I felt the Nexus would fit better in the ecosystem. I like the form factor/screen ratio of the iPad, so I thought the Nexus 9 would do well, as it has a very similar size.
My shiny new (ok, slightly used) Nexus 9 arrived and I began eagerly setting it up. I dutifully downloaded the software update after doing a factory reset, and the install process began. I started doing other things at my desk, knowing it would take a few minutes. About 10 minutes later I noticed that nothing was happening. To my horror, there was an install error. Unfortunately I don’t remember what it was – the fear of having just bricked my brand new tablet drove all other thoughts from my mind.
I was fortunate in that I was able to hold down the power button and reboot it, and it went back to Android 5.0.2. It wasn’t until then that I was able to breath again, and began searching the Internet to find out that, no, I wasn’t alone.
It seems that there are many reports of the 5.1.1 update bricking tablets. Not all, but some. Many more reports of the same install failure that I experienced. One poor fellow, telling his story in the Android Central forums, lamented that his Nexus 9 was brand new, sealed in the box, bought off of Ebay. His tablet bricked during the update, and he never even got to the homescreen.
Google+ user Spencer Watson told me that he went through Google first, then they sent him to HTC when his serial number showed that he had not purchased through Google Play. After having him run the exact same troubleshooting that Google had him run, HTC finally approved for him to send it in for repair.
Google’s own product forums are awash with similar stories. What seems to be really unfortunate is that many people have apparently been told by Google that if you didn’t purchase from the Play Store, you’re out of luck. Talk to the people you bought it from. Others have had mixed success talking HTC, some being told it’s Google’s problem, others getting their tablets replaced. Others who purchased from Amazon have reported that they are being refunded their money by Amazon.
We’ve reached out to Google to find out if a fix is coming any time soon and we’ll be sure to update if we hear anything back. For now, I’m content to leave my Nexus 9 at 5.0.2, and not tempt fate again. The current OS seems to be running ok, albeit with some minor bugs, and I’m actually quite happy with it.
How about you? Any of our readers own a Nexus 9? Did your tablet update successfully? Did it brick? Let us know in the comments below, or on Google+, Twitter, or Facebook!