16GB Nexus 7 Can't Perform With Storage Nearly Full?

Not to get personal, but I thought it was just me. When I first received the Google Nexus 7 tablet, it was simply badass, even more so compared to my Kindle Fire (which was tossed over to my wife). But since then, the tablet's performance has glaringly slowed to a crawl, turning into a disappointing, worthless piece of junk. That may be harsh, but the before and after is like night and day, and as a consumer who shelled out $250 for the 16 GB version, I expect a quality product.

It seems that my Nexus 7 tablet no longer has spunk.

Mind you I'm horribly obsessive about performance. Just like on the PC, I make sure nothing is running in the background that will steal a single frame from my games. Android is no different, and while I like the way Ice Cream Sandwich will allow applications to run simultaneously in the background, I make sure they're all nuked so I can get every drop of juice from Nvidia's quad core Tegra 3.

But now it seems that I'm not the only one who's noticed the performance degradation. The Register has an interesting article that describes the same problem, only the information is based on various forums where annoyed customers have flocked to provide their complaints. Apparently the problem exists only on the 16 GB model, and when the storage capacity falls below 2 GB.

Technically device owners only have 13 GB of internal storage to use – the rest is eaten up by Android. Unlike many Android smartphones, that 13 GB is reserved for apps, their data, multimedia and so on. Unfortunately, 13 GB isn't really enough for the Android gamer, especially when playing Gameloft titles. As an example, N.O.V.A. 3 eats up 1.99 GB, whereas Modern Combat 3 eats up 1.47 GB. Order and Chaos, Gameloft's World of Warcraft mobile knock-off, consumes 0.92 GB. With just those three Gameloft games alone, I've lost 4.38 GB.

"So here I am, stuck with a device that is labeled for 16 GB storage, that in reality only has just over 13 GB of storage ... but due to performance issues, REALLY only has 9-10 GB of storage available for content and software," writes one angry Nexus 7 owner.

"Ever since I got my Nexus 7 I noticed it was a little on the slow side, when playing 3D games I experienced a lot of freezing and issues when it was loading in new textures but more recently I've noticed these issues get worse," writes another owner. "Downloading an app is tremendously slow with it taking several minutes to download just a few meg while my phone completes the same task in seconds."

"I've seen reports of this linked with poor IO transfer benchmarks," another owner writes who saw a performance increase after disabling Currents and freeing up 2 GB of cache. "Current best guess seems to be that the device is having trouble writing and reading cache during background tasks and is slowing down everything else. Thing is it ran like a particularly greased up Usain Bolt for the first few months. I was sure it was some sort of app I'd installed messing things up but I can't isolate it at all, and it manifests as high IO usage. It really is incredibly annoying, with Chrome habitually showing the "Not Responding" dialogue, and Google Now becoming Google Eventually."

For the record, AndroBench produced these results on my Nexus 7:

SEQ RD: 4.69 MB/s
SEQ WR: 0.31 MB/s
RND RD: 1.33 MB/s, 340.82 IOPS(4K)
RND WR: 0.03 MB/s, 9.05 IOPS(4K)

Insert: 2.75 TPS
Update: 30.93 TPS
Delete: 20.31 TPS

The great thing with AndroBench is that it will compare your scores to other devices. Apparently my sequential write of 0.31 MB/s is slower than the Nexus 7 which is ranked at #1 with 23.02 MB/s. Random read is also supposed to be around 1843.89 IOPS(4), but mine lists as 340.82 IOPS(4K). That said, the tablet's horrid performance isn't simply my imagination, and it's not the imagination of numerous other users complaining about slowdown on various forums.

Note this benchmark was performed with 1.2 GB of free internal space out of 13 GB. After deleting some app cache, I ran the benchmark again with 2.1 GB of free space. The results still shows less than optimal performance, but better than before:

SEQ RD: 27.36 MB/s
SEQ WR: 11.06 MB/s
RND RD: 6.54 MB/s, 1676.15 IOPS(4K)
RND WR: 0.1 MB/s, 28.15 IOPS(4K)

Insert: 29.9 TPS
Update: 22.86 TPS
Delete: 29.33 TPS

Alright, let's clear up to 3 GB of free space, disable Currents sync in the background (which consumes a lot of data), and see what happens:

SEQ RD: 29.69 MB/s
SEQ WR: 0.75 MB/s
RND RD: 8.03 MB/s, 2056.55 IOPS(4K)
RND WR: 0.14 MB/s, 237.12 IOPS(4K)

Insert: 7.97 TPS
Update: 29.59 TPS
Delete: 20.49 TPS

For the record, AndroBench claims the Nexus 7 should perform like this:

SEQ RD: n/a
SEQ WR: 22.78 MB/s
RND RD: 1842.62 IOPS(4K)
RND WR: 6157.93 IOPS(4K)

Insert: 205.28 TPS
Update: 166.25 TPS
Delete: 215.15 TPS

Even after clearing up to 3 GB of space and turning off Currents, the performance is still sluggish. While the sequential read seemingly has improved, the sequential write still remains low. In fact, even the random write speeds are suspiciously low, leaving me to wonder if something is going on in regards to writing to the flash – could this be why downloads are taking so long as other users have suggested?

So far Google hasn't responded to queries over the Nexus 7 16 GB slowdown. Hopefully these numbers will help shed some light on the situation.

  • A Bad Day
    "If it has 16GB of storage, it has 16GB of storage. Good day, now get out."

    Hopefully Google's response wouldn't be like that.
  • amdwilliam1985
    I feel sorry for all those 16GB users, and at the same time I feel better about my $200 8GB now.

    Hopefully Google will address it asap, it's their first tablet, so I won't be surprise that it has a few bugs like this.
  • Wow a Google Tablet with bugs. Imagine that?!?!
  • lilotimz
    Well Asus did design this in less than half a year so there's bound to be some bugs but eh. Having used Asus for most computer parts I can safely say that they'll correct this problem one way or another. This IS googles premier tablet you know.
  • christarp
    jasonpaulReading this makes me happy I canceled my preorder... Samsung's tablet seems like a much better choice.they're not
  • jerm1027
    amdwilliam1985I feel sorry for all those 16GB users, and at the same time I feel better about my $200 8GB now.Hopefully Google will address it asap, it's their first tablet, so I won't be surprise that it has a few bugs like this.Google is normally really good about their hardware. I think the problem is more so with rushing rather than inexperience, especially considering their manufacturer for the Nexus 7 is ASUS. I mean the Nexus One is still kicking to this day with no problems. Google gave Asus ridiculously high specs to follow-through on and they had 6 months to get it out the door. If this thing didn't have bugs, I would have worshiped Asus as a manufacturing god.
  • You'd think they would add enough RAM so they wouldn't have to use a page file / virtual memory.

    Google should have never used Linux as the base to build android on top of in the first place.
  • back_by_demand
    Oh dear, this is not a good advert for Google, let's hope it's just an isolated incident, otherwise the buying public will vote with their feet
    Even amongst rabid fanbois, there is no loyalty these days
  • "Google should have never used Linux as the base to build android on top of in the first place."

    Android would be nowhere near as popular as it is today if it was built on top of a closed source like iOS or WP. It's what makes Android a fantastic and delightful experience.
  • "Google should have never used Linux as the base to build android on top of in the first place."

    How laughable. Are you heavily invested in Microsoft or Apple?
    Linux is rock solid and reliable, a proven OS. Apple stuff is based on BSD UNIX. Linux and Apple iOS, can be traced back to humble, powerful UNIX system V.