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Is Google letting Nexus owners down with Lollipop updates?

One of the biggest reasons for owning a Nexus device is that you get pure, stock Android updates as soon they become available. You don't have to worry about the rat-race that manufacturers like Samsung, HTC and LG find themselves in to get the coveted updates, and you can be fairly sure the update won't be buggy. But the Android 5.1.1 Lollipop update is just the latest to show that even Nexus owners can't escape all the the buggy, messy chaos experienced by owners of non-Nexus Android devices.

Factory images for the Android 5.1.1 Lollipop update are now available on the Google Developers' site. Well, for certain devices anyway. If you're one of the several people in the world who own a Nexus Player, have a trusty old 2012 or 2013 WiFi Nexus 7 tablet, a Nexus 9 or a Nexus 10, then you can manually get your hands on the update now. There's no word on an OTA yet, and Nexus 4, 5 and 6 owners are still waiting for the factory images.

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Lollipop is broken for many Nexus owners. Are they being left out in the cold? / © ANDROIDPIT

But the vast majority of people who own these devices won't be aware of what a factory image even is. To the casual Nexus owner, one of the selling points of their device would have been the fact that they're first in line to get the latest updates and don't have to worry about dodgy and delayed updates - good old Google will send the OTA update as soon as it's ready. For these people, the fact that there are factory images is of little use to them. So we know that the updates are there to be downloaded, but they're out of reach for the vast majority. Is that fair?

Amidst complaints about battery-drainage, dodgy signal, and other Lollipop problems for the Nexus 5 and Nexus 6, there has been no word of OTA updates or factory images for these these devices. At this moment, it doesn't seem that owning a Nexus device is any less troublesome than a Galaxy S4 or Galaxy S5, which have also experienced nightmarish Lollipop roll-outs. Ideally, dodgy Android updates wouldn't happen to anyone. However, when a pre-requisite for you buying a phone is the promise of not having to worry about delayed, buggy updates (as with Nexus devices), then the state of Lollipop updates is all the more infuriating.

We certainly don't think that people who own a more recent, more expensive Nexus device should be first in line to get Android updates and fixes necessarily, but rolling it out for the relatively obscure Nexus Player ahead of the bug-troubled and hugely popular Nexus 4, 5 and 6 seems ludicrous. There should be some degree of order to the availability of updates, and perhaps more information for non-tech-savvy Nexus owners who are stuck with a buggy Lollipop version and don't know how to reach out for a factory image.

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The Nexus 5 and Nexus 6 - two popular phones still waiting for Android 5.1.1. / © ANDROIDPIT

Even the most ardent Android supporters (like us) will admit that the fragmentation of the Android platform across so many manufacturers makes it a pretty messy platform - that's the trade-off for being on a platform as diverse and customizable as Android. However, people who specifically buy Nexus devices usually buy them to avoid some of the chaos that comes with Android's inherent fragmentation, so they have a right to feel particularly aggrieved.

In theory, owning a Nexus should offer a little taste of that Apple experience - fast roll-outs without (too much) worrying about whether they'll break your device. Particularly with the Lollipop update, Google is failing to deliver this key part of the Nexus experience, making you wonder whether it's even tenable for Android updates to arrive free of bugs, stress and delays.

With the number of problems with the Lollipop updates, we may have to wait until the next big OS redesign (Android 'M'?) until Google shows whether it's capable of delivering Nexus - and all other Android - owners the OS experience they deserve. 

Do you own a Nexus device? How has your experience of the Lollipop updates been so far? Share your experiences in the comments.


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  • As of 8/20 I am part of the multitude of users who have lost their Nexus 7 tablets. Mine updated on the 19th and locked up when I tried to use it on the 20th and ended up rebooting to see if that would clear the issue. Now it sits at the Google screen when booted. All efforts to erase the memory and start over have failed. We tried to use the developer toolkit to pull down the factory image, but it sits at the "erasing user data" message. Sitting on hold with Google to start the support process. At this point I don't feel confident that I will have anything more than a $300 paperweight when it's all said and done, but one can hope right?

  • grizzly Aug 4, 2015 Link to comment

    i have a Nexus 7 2012 and we have two other 7s in the family.

    When purchased they weren't brought expecting them to be Beta test platforms.

    Since L5 was received via OTA back in March my tablet was unusable. Deep sleeping, fast battery drain etc. tried all the tune up tips. Safe mode just as bad. Cache wiped, factory reset several times to no effect. No joy out of Google support or their forums. Users are still reporting the same problems on those support platforms today.

    In the end I used wugfresh to reinstall 4.4.4 and it runs as originally intended. I have turned off auto update as I don't intend to kill my tablet again. I don't use lots of suspect apps just a couple of mainstream ones and web browsing.

    When my android phone died these issues made me buy a windows phone and I have no regrets. When the hardware on the N7 finally gives a windows tab will be high on the options list.

    My daughters N72012 runs like a dog and she has relegated it the bottom drawer. My sons N72013 remains on 4.4.4.he won't upgrade.

    My daughters moto g 3rd gen runs L5 without a problem as did her 2nd gen before it took a bath.

  • My 2012 nexus 7 was great when first purchased but after the last android update it was very slow, locked up lots and now is stuck in the dreaded "bootloop" which I have tried to fix but still no joy!!

  • those whose nexus devices are ok, well ... you are lucky. im one of the unlucky ones. won't even go into recovery mode. google should provide a tool to override it

  • The updates are fine.

  • Stephen May 22, 2015 Link to comment

    I have a N7 (2012) , N7 (2013), N10, and an N5. No issues to report on any device all running lollipop 5.1.1.

    My personal N5 and N7 (2013) are running brilliantly since 5.1, never been better. Earlier versions of lollipop weren't the best, but issues have been resolved, although slower than I had hoped. It would take some serious lusting of a device to move me away from a pure google Nexus.

  • I have Nexus 5 as well as Nexus 4. Not sure whom to blame, Nexus 5 is giving trouble of constant restart exact after 1 yr 1 month, I am out of warranty, LG service centre asked for 200 dollars / 12000 INR for repair, stating mother board is gone! I had at least 5 ppl than in same service centre compalinig of same issue!

    I have Nexus 4 as well, there were no issues until I got 5.1 update, again I am not sure it's HW or SW issue, soft keys of Nexus 4 have suddenly stopped working!

    Waste 379 dollars for each phone means about 760 dollars down the drain in 2 years and now I am not sure whether to spend so much on phone again! Rather by Chinese xaomi and if it works for one year also it's great!

  • He I have an issue with my nexus 6 since the update with lollipop 5.1 the screen is going dark and I won't be able to see anything. I always have to turn off the phone so it can start running back normally. Also it happen often like twice a day. I hope that the new update coming out will solve that issue, or if anyone knows what it might be???

  • It's sad that Google still hasn't been able to fix the memory leak, Wi-Fi, bluetooth, battery drainage issues. Lollipop is such a failure os so far it's way to buggy. Maybe windows will come up top at the end of the year. :p

  • Haha, nexus users being let down by google? Try owning a Samsung S4 mini. I could only update to 4.4.2 about 5 months. When people with the older nexus 4 were getting the first iterations of lollipop. Little chance my phone will ever get as far as 4.4.4. I would rather my phone progress, even at a risk of bugs, than stagnate in the past. I wouldn't consider buying a non Nexus device again after this experience with Samsung.

  • Andrew D May 21, 2015 Link to comment

    Ive not experienced any bugs of significance on my nexus 6 with any of the versions of lollypop so far released. It could well be sub standard hardware that has found its way into the supply stream (chineese knockoffs) in the form of chips or batterys that are causing some of the issues, otherwise the same issues would be affecting all phones, and not just certain ones.. Either that, or people are blowing out of all proportion a small bug that the vast majority of people never see or experience.

  • My Nexus 5 got the 5.1 upgrade nearly instantly after the version was announced, and I expect 5.1.1 to come within the next few days. I also love my device and had no problems with this awesome OS yet. It makes me sad to read that it doesn't work as nicely for others. :/

    [Edit: I first thought I'd already be using 5.1.1, but what I had in mind was actually the 5.1 upgrade :D]

  • Pam O. May 21, 2015 Link to comment

    Love my Nexus 6 which I purchased in November! I do think being the newest in the line up should mean we get the update the soonest. This has not happened since lollipop 5.1. Still waiting on 5.1.1 while many other nexus devices have this update. I update right away before it is pushed to my phone. Other than that update issue, I am very happy with my Nexus 6.

  • I have the Nexus 6 with a custom version of LMY47X build and so far no problems I get almost 2 days on moderate use and a day on heavy use I solely rely on WiFi for calls and text I'm a Xda member so I know how to tweek and fix some issues I have this phone is a beast and if multi window and a few other features was supported from other devices the Nexus line of devices will be number one in sales I feel there's nothing wrong with the device just needs a bit more polish and a few well known features from other companies and more security like led notification when your camera or mic is being used with out permission or the first led front facing camera for low light selfies and video chat the choice for encryption again and theming the whole device with out super user and much more

  • I was so let down and disappointed that I decided to trade in my Nexus 6 google has lost me as a nexus customer

  • Nexus 8?

  • So far no complaint with my two months old Nexus 6 running on 5.1 version. I just love this "little" beast.
    Actually, better performance than I expected...however...
    My only setback and dissapointment is being caused by the missing frikin' WIFI CALLING....
    Where is the darn OTA update????

  • I have two tablets (nexus 7 2012 and a new dell venue 8) and a phone nexus 4 all now with lollipop

    The nexus 7 is way too laggy so I replaced it with the dell. The dell is very nice. A little wait for 5.0 but 4.4 was stable . dell pushed 5.0 recently and it was also stable.

    When I have a little time I will root the nexus 7 and flash cyanogenmod 11

    I put cyanogenmod on an early Samsung s and it runs very well still ( for my stepdaughter)

    The nexus 4 phone is just fine with lollipop

    My wife has an iPhone 6....good for her but I am an Android fan

  • Bo King May 21, 2015 Link to comment

    There are more devices in the nexus loop. 4,5,6,7,9, even 10 still. Hard to update all of them on day one, but you get the update way before Sammy, HTC, and lg

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