Do you need a custom ROM on your device?

When I first bought my Nexus 7 (2012), it was on Android 5.1 and was really slow. I downgraded it to the official Android 4.4.4 firmware, but when apps started showing incompatibility, I asked myself: is now the time for a custom ROM?

After searching around, it turns out the slow performance on the Nexus 7 (2012) was only affected by Android 5.x, with people reporting much better performance on Android 6.0 and 7.x based ROMs. So I decided to give one a try.

My first pick was Unlegacy Android, based on Android 7.1. I was forced to use the pico package for OpenGAPPS, which only included the Play Store and other services needed for it to function as the system partition couldn’t squeeze in Android 7.1 and all the Google apps.

UA 7.1 would freeze up randomly sometimes for me. It would sometimes stutter when switching between apps, but it was still better than Android 5.1. I decided that I needed a more stable ROM so I tried LineageOS 15.1, recently released and based on Android Go for a more smooth experience.

LineageOS 15.1 required me to use OpenGAPPS pico as it was based on Android 8.1 Oreo. It was slow. A little faster than Android 5.1, but slower than Unlegacy Android 7.1 and stock 4.4.

I then decided to try Unlegacy Android again, only this time it was based on Android 6.0 instead of 7.1. Frustratingly, I still had to use OpenGAPPS pico, explaining why Google did not release Android 6.0 to the Nexus 7 (2012) as they would be unable to fit all their services and apps in as well as the Android 6.0 system.

UA 6.0 ran much better. It was smooth, no stuttering, and never froze up. However, there was something wrong. What made the Nexus 7 so special was that it was Google branded. It was running on stock Android, just like Unlegacy Android does. But I missed all the Google apps other than the core Google Play functionality. Sure, I could just install them all from the Play Store. But that’s time consuming. I like having them all there.

I’m currently running, yes you heard right, stock Android 4.3 on my Nexus 7. I decided I want the fast performance and Google app presence associated with the stock firmware, so I switched back. The apps I want such as Minecraft and Crossy Road still install and almost all incompatible apps such as YouTube have an older version available. It’s fast for my Nexus and its perfect.

Do you need a custom ROM for your device? Maybe. As a power user for my Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus, I do run a custom ROM based on Android 9.0 and quite enjoy it. But if your device’s firmware is still adequate for your usage and custom ROMs just don’t mix well with it then maybe staying on stock is better.

Nexus 7 (2012) – why are there no Android 10 or 9 ROMs available and why has the only Android 8.1 ROM available only been released recently?

The Nexus 7 (2013) has a ROM for every Android version since the version it first launched with. Even when support for it was discontinued when Android 7.0 Nougat was released, the development community were quick to make ports of it. A port of Android 10 has recently been released.

The year older Nexus 7 (2012) only had ROMs going up to Android 7.1.2 until recently where a LineageOS 15.1 ROM was released. How come the Nexus 7 (2012) has a lot less ROM treatment than the one year newer model?

First of all, let’s start with hardware. The Nexus 7 (2012) has 1GB RAM and a Nvidia Tegra3 CPU, whilst the 2013 variant has 2GB RAM and a Snapdragon S4 Pro. That’s a noticeable difference in speed and performance just there. The Nexus 7 (2012) was good back in its day, and even now, if you choose the correct ROM, can make a good tablet, but Android 9 and 10 just won’t run very well on it. On LineageOS 15.1 and Unlegacy Android 7.1.2, I experienced lag but on stock 4.3, 4.4, and Unlegacy Android 6.0, it was perfectly acceptable for every day use.

Android Go was announced by Google a while back providing an optimised Android version for low end devices such as the Galaxy J2 Core. LineageOS 15.1 appears to use Go’s optimisation for the Nexus 7 (2012) but a 2019 low end smartphone may just be that little bit faster than a mid-range tablet from 2012.

Let’s not forget the system partition. When I tried Unlegacy Android 6.0, 7.1.2, and LineageOS 15.1, I had to use the minimal GAPPS package (pico) only including the Play Store and basic Google functionality. The Nexus 7 (2013) has a resize method available but it appears to be hard to use and you risk messing up the partition table resulting in an unrecoverable device. There is no such method for the Nexus 7 (2012). Recent Android versions take up more space and on the Nexus 7 (2013), the only currently available Android 10 ROM requires a resize before it can be installed.

Can we expect Android 9 or 10 ROMs for the Nexus 7 (2012)? Probably not. Unless a resize method is found for the system partition, there’s little chance of it and even if it was made, it probably wouldn’t run very well. Luckily, Android 6.0 or 7.1 is still adequate and a great majority of apps still work fine on it so if you’re looking for a good ROM to revive your tablet, look there instead of hoping for a ROM which could put the tablet past its limits.

What ROM do you have on your Nexus 7 and how does it run? Tell me down below in the comments section!

-Chas 😎

Nexus 7 (2012) review

Recently, I purchased a Nexus 7 (2012) from a local store. I’ve wanted this tablet for years now but it was always too expensive. But last week my lucky day came as a local shop was selling one for £35.

Android Lollipop issues

Turning it on, it ran the slow and laggy Android 5.1 Lollipop. Opening and switching between apps was a nightmare. And don’t even get me started on updating all the apps on ancient versions. I couldn’t put up with this, so I downloaded the KitKat 4.4.4 factory image from Google’s website and flashed it.

On KitKat, I can certainly say that it is faster than Lollipop, significantly faster. Updating apps took about 5 times quicker than on Lollipop, mainly because KitKat is more optimised for the Nexus 7 (2012) than Lollipop is, but also because not all the updated versions of preloaded apps can run on KitKat.

App support

App support on KitKat is still fairly good. Yes, some apps are starting to require Android 5.0 and 6.0, but those that I wanted to install that did had an older version that could be sideloaded. I managed to install an older version of Gboard to replace the old stock KitKat keyboard on there, as well as old versions of the Microsoft Office mobile apps. They all still work without issue.

Minecraft, WordPress, and Geometry Dash World all installed fine on their latest versions. They all work without issue, except Minecraft which lags unless you turn off all the fancy graphics.

Specs and performance

There is an explanation for this, of course. The Nexus 7 (2012) has a Nvdia Tegra 3 CPU consisting of four ARM Cortex A9 cores clocked at 1.2GHz, along with 1GB RAM. Back then that was considered midrange and could probably run Minecraft and other games at high graphics. But now? Nah.

Custom ROMs

What about custom ROM support? It appears the community have developed ROMs for the Nexus 7 (2012) up to Android 7.1 Nougat. I haven’t tried any, and honestly, I wouldn’t expect great performance from these ROMs. The Nexus 7 (2012) runs near stock Android anyway, which most of these ROMs are based on. If the Nexus struggles to handle stock Android 5.1.1, as much as poor software optimisation could be partially the problem, I’m sure the specs play a major part too and that 6.0 and 7.x ROMs wouldn’t run much better.

Conclusion

So, how well does the Nexus 7 (2012) still hold up in 2019? As a basic tablet for playing basic games, word processing, and browsing the internet, it holds up well. But for heavy tasks you might want to look elsewhere as the Nexus 7 is not as up to the task in 2019 as it was in 2012. But for basic use, the Nexus 7 is a great tablet and holds up well provided you downgrade it to KitKat, even in 2019.

Do you still use a Nexus 7 and how well does it hold up in 2019? Tell me down below in the comments.

-Chas 😎