As a dedicated supporter of Android based portable devices this is a difficult post for me to type.
I made my first, reluctant foray into the world of the tablet user at the end of 2011 when HP decided to mark down their Touchpad device to a spectacularly low $99. While it ran the slightly left-of-field WebOS the device could be flashed to run a customised Android ROM. As the devices sold out quickly across the world I had to resort to locating one in the US and having it shipped over.
Anyway, I liked the tablet format very much but wanted something slightly smaller than the A4 sized Touchpad but larger than the Android phone I was using at the time, a HTC Hero. Enter the Google Nexus 7. I bought one of these 7 inch tablets in September 2012 and loved it straight away. It ran Android 4.1, completely integrated with all the Google services I used and most importantly it fitted into the inside pocket of my jacket! No more clunky devices the size and weight of a cut down laptop to lug around. I literally brought it everywhere and used it for everything from work to reading books (yes, it completely converted me to the use of e-books). When my tablet was stolen in New York during my work as part of the hurricane Sandy response I went out straight away and bought a new one. Actually as the Staples outlet I went to had a special offer I bought two! One for me and one as a Christmas present for my wife.
The device was used daily and about 6 months after purchase it started to develop a niggling issue with charging. The micro-USB cable had to be fiddled around a good bit for the device to actually charge and the slightest movement of the cable would stop the charging process. I put it down to a faulty/worn cable-plug and bought a replacement cable. Actually I went to half a dozen cables in about as many weeks. Still the problem persisted. Not only that but my wife’s tablet was starting to have the same issues. Logic made me conclude that the connector/socket on the tablet might have become worn or damaged. We limped on applying tricks such as using a heavy book to keep the connector plugged into the tablet, using something to push the connector upwards etc. These were only temporary solutions as the problem steadily worsened. In early November last year my tablet would just not charge anymore, at all. It was by all means dead. My wife’s tablet was slowly limping in the same direction.
By this point I finally resorted to Google-ing the issue and lo and behold I was not alone! There were hundreds if not thousands of messages on forums and newsgroups of people having the same problem (Google-ing “nexus 7 charging problem” results in 1,600,000 results!) All with Nexus devices that eventually would no longer charge using a cable. Two solutions were mentioned, using wireless charging our using the Asus Nexus Dock (Asus is the manufacturer of the Nexus 7).
Armed with this knowledge I contacted Google to see what they were doing to deal with this problem. It was clearly a manufacturing or design issue to logic dictated that they should rectify it. The disappointing reply I received was that I should contact the vendor where I purchased the devices. As this was a Staples outlet in New York City and I live at the other side of the Atlantic I contacted Staples via their Twitter account. All they could tell me was to contact the store itself which could only be done via phone (why email wasn’t possible is beyond me). The store told me that I should return the tablet to them so they could establish what the issue was. However I was notified at that stage that the 1 year warranty had expired and that any repairs would be chargeable. To me. So I would have to ship the device to New York, pay for having a design fault repaired and then pay to have them shipped back to me? No thanks.
So, I went ahead and ordered the Asus dock. From the US as it wasn’t for sale in Europe yet. The dock arrived several weeks later and I could finally charge my tablet and, you know, actually use it.
However shortly afterwards I noticed that the tablet would charge really slowly (when in the dock). I would have it docked overnight and the charging level would only increase by 10% or so. But then sometimes it would charge fully. On top of that it would discharge really rapidly especially when the charge went below 35%. It would sometime go from 35% to empty in minutes.
I resorted to Google-ing the problem again (how ironic) only to discover that this again was a common problem. Apparently devices that were upgraded to the latest version of Android (KitKat 4.4). This happened early in 2014 which coincided with the time our tablets were starting to have these problems. So not only was the charging port faulty due to a design process now the OS was causing charging problems!
By this point we had 4 Nexus 7 devices in the family as my 2 youngest kids had used their Christmas money to each buy a Nexus 7. I had let them as I had assumed that any problems would have been resolved by now and newer devices would not have ny more charging problems. That was before the upgrade to KitKat 4.4!
I again reached out to Google at this point. Again with a disappointing response. This time they didn’t refer me to the place where the devices were purchased but told me to contact Asus (the device manufacturer) instead. This in spite of the fact that these are Google branded devices. Asus of course flat-out refused to do anything as the devices were out of warranty and the issue was OS related which was not their responsibility.
At this point I have had it and in spite of championing Google Nexus devices in the past I am now at a stage where I probably will never ever purchase any of their devices again. Not because the purchased devices were faulty but because of the unacceptable way they shirk of any responsibility and just pass the buck to a third-party. In fact I am eying up the Apple iPad mini Retina at the moment. Those who know my aversion to iOS will realise what a big shift this is.