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What to do if the Android 5.0.2 update sends your Nexus 9 into a bootloop tizzy

Strange things are afoot with the Nexus 9. The Android 5.0.2 update that started rolling out a couple days ago — that's the one ahead of the Android 5.1.1 update that'll drop any time now — has been sending some tablets into a bootloop tailspin. That's absolutely not the sort of thing anyone wants to see happen with an update, and it's sure not something you expect from what's supposed to be the most unadulterated Android experiences.

There have been a number of reports of "bricked" Nexus 9 tablets in Google's support forums, our own forums and other online watering holes. (In fact, my Nexus 9 went into bootloop limbo as well.)

The good news is that there are options should your tablet be soft-bricked (that's as opposed to actually dead) after taking this update.

If you've ever gone the custom ROM route, you've undoubted run into the "do I need to clear cache and data?" question. The short version is that this is one of those places where things get tricky during an update. And so it's the first place I turn to if things go bad.

If you're not a tinkerer, the good news is there are options even if your bootloader isn't unlocked.

Nexus 9 recovery

You clear the device cache of a Nexus tablet in the Recovery. So to get to that you'll need to trigger a new boot by holding down the power button. After you feel the vibrate of a new cycle beginning, hold down the power and volume-down buttons. (If you end up in Fastboot instead because you did power+volume-up, just choose "HBOOT" from the menu.) Now look for the Recovery option and hit the power button one more time to choose it. When you get to the green Android guy, hold down the power button yet again, then hit volume up at the same time. Then fly on down to "Wipe cache partition" and then reset once that's done.

If that doesn't do the trick, it's time for a factory reset. You can do that from within the bootloader as well. Just choose HBOOT and then scroll down to the big, red, FACTORY RESET option. You can also reset from within recovery, if you want, by choosing the "wipe data/factory reset" option. (For what it's worth, the factory reset fixed things for me, and I eventually booted into Android 5.0.2.)

If things get really squirrelly and your bootloader's unlocked, no worries — you can flash a whole new image. And if none of the above applies, well, RMA that sucker. And let folks know you did so.

As to why any of this is happening? We don't yet know. We've got inquiries in to Google as well as HTC. At this point we wouldn't blame you for holding off of applying any update. (Patience never is a bad idea anyway.)

Need more help? Head into our Nexus 9 forums!

47 Comments
  • A hammer but unfortunately permanent solution Posted via the Android Central App
  • 2013 nexus 7 been stuck on Google screen after a update. Supposedly a new motherboard will fix it,le sigh Posted via Android Central App
  • And you can't get it into recovery? Same issue here, done for good :(
  • That's right. Can't get it to do a thing. It just sick with the google logo. Select recovery and it just status in that one spot. I read on forums that a lot of people had this happen. Several fixed it with a new motherboard which is crazy, smh. Posted via Android Central App
  • My nexus 7 died in the same way :(
  • same here
  • my N7 too, it's just sitting on my desk :(
  • Mine died too. I sent it to ASUS last week and yesterday they replied with a $205 invoice to replace the motherboard.
  • So Google broke ur device with an update and they aren't paying for it?? Posted via Android Central App on The Nexus 5
  • Yeah they are passing the buck back and forth and finally letting the responsibility to fix it, and the associated cost (as much as $200) lie at the foot of the consumer. $200 bucks to fix a $250 device...that they (Google) broke......WTH!!!???? Talk about biting the hand that feeds you! #nexus7bricked
  • My old Nexus 5 did that one day at work. It was raining hard and I guess water got in there. Luckily, it booted up. Yes, I now have a Note 4. I upgraded due to bad battery life. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Mine updated OK, but once it booted on again I got stuck in a GAPPS force close circle of death. No matter what I did I would keep getting force closes that wouldn't go away. I finally decided to flash the new factory image and went about my day and all has been fine since. I'll just go straight to the factory image next time when 5.1.1 is posted.
  • Boot to recovery, delete/reset all. Done. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Lawyer up, hit the gym.
  • Lol Posted via the Android Central App
  • Pick up the hottie... Posted via Android Central App- Via HTC One
  • My 2013 N7 that after one of the jelly bean updates. Had to factory reset it to get it back to life.
  • This is the 3rd or 4th different Nexus device in as many months that this has happened to with 5.x.x OTAs. What the hell is Google even doing anymore? I get that people should be used to software issues on the Nexus line, but the recent positioning of them as consumer devices means that stuff like this should be completely unacceptable. Having to wipe your data due to an official update is nuts.
  • I agree 100%
    This just shouldn't be happening. Posted via Android Central App on The Nexus 5
  • Exactly. Absolutely distasteful on Googles part. They need to get their act on. Although Google is God here so not much criticism will arise. Posted via the Sailfish iMore app
  • This is so ridiculous it hurts. There needs to be an uproar about this issue. We should be tackling google non stop. Unacceptable
  • Same I'm getting a little sick of the Google apologist bull**** Posted via the Android Central App
  • The problem isn't new to the Nexus 9. I've got a Nexus 7 in the same boat! Google denies any responsibility. Tried to get into it from the PC, but it won't even load the Android driver.
  • How can they deny responsibility if it's THEIR update?? I don't get that.. Posted via Android Central App on The Nexus 5
  • That's absolutely insane and horrible performance from Google. They should be ashamed let alone still being on 5.0.2 lol. Posted via the Sailfish iMore app
  • Tried wiping cache, factory reset and boot recovery nothing worked, unfortunately locked boot loader :(. Got RMA and will send back..
  • Why would you lock your bootloader on a Nexus device, ever? People are having issues because they are doing this and side-loading the OTA. Just fastboot flash the system images and have a nice day. :)
  • The bootloader is locked by default, I should have enabled debug mode from dev options in order to be able to unlock it via a fastboot command and flash at will.. For some smart reason :) I just forgot to enable this from settings when I had a working tablet, not I'm stuck where I can't flash when I fastboot, I can't even issue the command (fastboot oem unlock) ..etc. not sure if I'm missing the obvious or stuck and should return, any tips would help!
  • Maybe use the Nexus toolkit.
    I know using it could unlock a devices bootloader. Might recommend that as a last resort. Helpful and easy to use. Although you might have to need debug on and since you can't at this current rate. Might still use it and try it out though. I haven't used it in quite a while though but I do think debug must be on :/
    Posted via the Sailfish iMore app
  • What process did you use to RMA it? I went through the chat on the HTC website. They want me to pay to ship so they can diagnose it, "fix" it if possible, and send it back.
  • This article must be wrong. This issue can't possibly be happening. According to many posters here on AC, the combination of a Nexus device running the "pure" Android experience is Zen like. The Zen Master Google would never allow this situation to occur. /s From my lollipopped rooted LG G2
  • I love pure Android. But I've got to say I laughed hard at your comment. :-) Posted via Android Central App
  • Strange update, only 23 megabytes, yet it sent my Nexus 9 into multiple reboots, during updating apps, working fine now, here comes 5.1.1 and 6/M at GOOGLE IO this month.
  • I hope Google engineers are in a room saying, "we fucked up with L." M needs to work, or Google is going to suffer. Unfortunately. Posted from my Motorola Moto G.
  • If your talking fucked up, try how bad Kit Kat was, audio, Bluetooth, video issues, it made the supposed googameistro look like the horrors of Windows 8, Froyo was pretty bad too. The reliability and speed improvements, in Gingerbread and Jelly Bean 1 and 2, got them huge market share improvement. I was ready to abandon ship, like I largely had, with Microsoft, but then Apple started having problems with iOS 8, there are still issues with catch up TV apps, that run fine on Apple gear. When you have to do factory resets, when Apple have been running 64 bit on for instance iPad mini 2, for a year more than Android has and much of our software, is just 32 bit emulated, you have to wonder. Here's hoping 5.1.1 is more 64 bit, more reliable, faster, because there are a lot of 64 bit devices coming, many of them will have 4 GB of LPDDR 4 SOC RAM, or more, UHD screens, 64 and 128 GB of flash. Get it right Google, or lose market share, the 32 GB Nexus 9, wasn't cheap after all, with less pixels than my Nexus 10, I sold for half the price, same RAM as a Nexus 4 from 2 years before. Same flash as the Nexus 5, 7, 7/2013, 10, I got a Nexus 7 original, with 32 GB of flash in late 2012, two years before my Nexus 9, for half the price, anyway that's my gripe session. Posted via the Android Central App
  • "you've undoubted run into the" undoubtedly
  • I am uploading a video on this though Google will probably pull it and I will need to put it on Vimeo or somewhere else. I have tried wiping cache, factory reset, etc. and am left with sending it to HTC. I guess this is the end of me buying anything Nexus as Google really doesn't seem to care if they support it well. I had a Nexus 7 die and now when I accepted the 5.0.2 update it killed this one. Now I have only had it about 100 days. You would assume that it would be an easy thing to take care of. Nope. See I made the mistake of buying from someone other than Google Play. I guess Amazon isn't reputable enough for Google because even though Google put out the release that broke my tablet and apparently many other peoples', I have to send it back to the manufacturer to deal with. This video shows the worth of the tablet right now. I finally stopped at about 20 minutes because the point is made. Video is still processing but should be available here soon: http://youtu.be/x1OMaOgDkvw If people link to the video and / or make their own and post them maybe we can draw enough shame on Google to do something positive about this. It is REALLY pathetic that Google wrote the "update" that killed so many of their supposedly pure Nexus tablets and they won't do anything about it. It was already disgraceful enough that we aren't getting the most recent Android OS and now they kill tablets with the interim. Come on Google how about acting like you care about your customers.
  • I'm with you...same issue on my year old, and mint condition Nexus 7. I'm sorely disappointed in how this issue is being addressed (or lack thereof) and being handled by both the manufacturer (Asus), retailer (Best Buy), and the developer (Google). Passing the buck back and forth and finally letting the responsibility to fix it, and the associated cost (as much as $200) lie at the foot of the consumer. $200 bucks to fix a $250 device...that you (Google) broke......WTH!!!???? Talk about biting the hand that feeds you!
  • How many times is Android Central going to repost the tweet to this story? I know it could be an issue with the device, but my god ...
  • Not a happy camper.. Oh well, least my iPad mini 2 works.
  • How has there been no mention of the Nexus 7 wifi issue? I even went as far as to send feedback to you guys about not mentioning and forewarning your readers. A little heads up would have certainly saved me. Any info or how to thwart the issue on that tablet. It's unfortunate because I more than most have an ecosystem built on Google offerings and have been a loyal customer of Android since it's beginning. The only reason I don't have a Nexus 9 is because I like the size of the Nexus 7, it's the most suitable compliment to my phone, and iPad. I only purchased it in March of 2014. Still far from what I would consider an obsolete hardware piece of hardware.
  • Same issue on my year old, and mint condition 2013 Nexus 7 Wifi. I'm sorely disappointed in how this issue is being addressed (or lack thereof) and being handled by both the manufacturer (Asus), retailer (Best Buy), and the developer (Google). Passing the buck back and forth and finally letting the responsibility to fix it, and the associated cost (as much as $200) lie at the foot of the consumer. $200 bucks to fix a $250 device...that you (Google) broke......WTH!!!???? Talk about biting the hand that feeds you! #nexus7bricked
  • same issue here but i have a moto g 2014 i do not have any idea what to do the pc can see the mobile model but can not open partition. many asked me to use twrp.image but i must get the driver of the mobile model and can not find it.
  • my moto g 2014 is in bootloop but battery accept charging and when connected to pc it detect the mobile model but can not open mobile portion, and when put it to bootloader mode the recovery option always boot failed msg appears ,
    Could it be that the motherboard is dead?
  • Received a update on my nexus 9 tablet on Monday evening and its completely screwed it up. It gets starts up gets to optimising apps back to start up an optimising apps again tried all the fixes but nothing works. I only had it January who do I contact about it.
  • My Nexus 9 LTE was stuck on Google logo after installing 5.1.1. Wipe cache/reset didn't resolve the problem. Finally the below steps fixed it.
    You need unlocked bootloader.
    - Download the factory image and extract all the img files.
    - Get into fastboot and run the following
    - fastboot flash bootloader bootloader-flounder-3.44.1.0123.img
    - fastboot reboot-bootloader
    - fastboot flash recovery recovery.img
    - fastboot flash boot boot.img
    - fastboot flash system system.img
    - fastboot flash vendor vendor.img
    - fastboot flash cache cache.img
    - Reboot
  • Lollipop Update completely locked my Nexus nine in an infinite boot sequence, tried every suggested fix and nothing worked.
    Finally I called HTC, the customer service was blazing fast, no wait time. I did have to send Nexus 9 to their repair facility with my own money but that's OK if I can get the tablet I spent $400 on back working. Bottom line is this should never have happened. GOOGLE branded tablet crashing after a Google update? Unbelievable!