How I Saved My 2013 Nexus 7 Tablet From Death via OTA

2013 Nexus 7

Tech blogs—and HoFo users—are reporting that the ASUS-made 2013 Nexus 7 tablet has been quietly removed from the Google Store. Here’s something else Google isn’t telling you: OTA updates seem to be bricking a lot of 2013 Nexus 7 tablets!

Last weekend there was a story on Android Police citing numerous reports of these cheap and cheerful tablets failing. Right in the title of their piece is the disclaimer that these incidents are not likely due to firmware updates, and yet this past weekend Android Central blogger Andrew Martonik had his own N7 bricked during an update to Android 5.1.

I’ve a vested interest in all of this because I’m a Nexus 7 owner myself; it’s currently my Lollipop test machine as I wait on the Slim Team to release a 5.x-based ROM for my OnePlus One. My tablet is happily running a CyanogenMod 12.1 nightly, and I’m fairly certain that it was my upgrade procedure to Lollipop that saved it from being bricked.

Ever since the release of Jelly Bean (Android 4.1) and the support it brought for multiple users on a single device, I’ve made it a habit to format the data partition on my devices before a major OS upgrade. And the only way I know how to do this is with an unlocked bootloader and custom recovery.

I know, I know, broken record over here… root your device, unlock the true power of Android, blah blah blah. But I can still appreciate the pain of a user having their stock device ruined by an update from the company that sold it to them. If it makes those users feel any better, CyanogenMod’s OTA updates haven’t been working for me, either; to upgrade from a CM12 (Android 5.0) nightly to the CM12.1 (Android 5.1) branch I had to manually flash the new ROM and Google apps zip.

Given the supremely annoying experience I had updating Cyanogen OS on my OnePlus One I think I’ve become wary of OTAs in general; I’m honestly more comfortable using TWRP to flash a new image myself.


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