Android Tablet and eReader Troubleshooting Guide


Over the past couple of years I’ve had the opportunity to use and review around two dozen Android tablets and ereaders, including the Kindle Fire, various Nook tablets, the Asus Transformer, cheap Chinese imports, a bunch of crummy tablets from Pandigital, and even some Android-powered E Ink ebook readers like the Nook Touch and Sony PRS-T1 and T2.

In that time I’ve learned a lot about troubleshooting Android devices that are acting up or flat out not working at all. I’ve found that it is very hard to brick an Android device with anything software related, so any time something goes wrong it’s almost always fixable one way or another.

I can’t cover all Android devices and the problems that can occur with each one in a single troubleshooting guide; this is more of a general guide with fixes to common problems that are universal for most Android tablets and ereaders. Start with the simple fixes first and then if that doesn’t work check the advanced section for resetting and reinstalling the original firmware.

Basic Problems

Note: Like with most electronic devices, the first thing you should always try when your tablet or ereader isn’t working properly is to shut it down and restart the device (not sleep mode). This usually can be achieved by holding down the power button and selecting to shut down.

Frozen screen, device won’t turn on or off: Usually when an Android device is not responding, holding down the power button for 20-30 seconds will snap it out of its funk. If that doesn’t work experiment with holding down the volume buttons or other hardware buttons in conjunction with the power button. Sometimes plugging the device into the charger can help with this too if the battery is running low.

Wi-Fi won’t connect: I have periodic problems with certain Android devices getting stuck in a loop where they keep trying to connect to Wi-Fi but never can. The fix here is to simply unplug the router and then plug it back in, and then wait a minute or two.

An app is non-responsive or isn’t working properly: Apps that usually work fine can sometimes freeze up or start acting unusual. Re-starting the device will often make an app that is misbehaving start working again, but a quicker way is to force close the app. Most tablets can do this in Settings > Applications > Select App > Force Stop. If that doesn’t work trying clearing cache and data as well. The last option would be to try uninstalling the app and then reinstalling it.

App won’t download: Sometimes an app will get stuck downloading or won’t finish downloading. Generally rebooting the device will fix this issue. Another option is to check the SD card to make sure it is being recognized by the device and is working properly. One time with the Kindle Fire HD specifically I still could not get it to download after restarting, and choosing to send it to the Kindle Fire at Amazon didn’t work either; the only solution I could find was to login to my Amazon account and delete the app permanently—then it downloaded fine after re-selecting it.

An app won’t install: Usually if an app won’t install it is because of an incompatibility issue with your particular device. There’s not a lot you can do here other than search online and in alternative appstores for older versions of the app. Sometimes older versions of an app will work better on certain devices than the latest updated version.

Can’t find downloaded files: Some Android tablets and ereaders make it a pain to find files downloaded with the web browser. Newer devices often have an app link specifically for Downloads. If your device doesn’t have that, the best thing to do is install a file manager app like ES File Manager so you can easily and quickly find the "Downloads" folder on the root of your device.

Poor battery life: There are a lot of poorly coded apps that can suck more power than they have any right to. Installing a battery monitoring app is a good way to identify potential offenders. Another good way to save on battery power is to set your device to turn Wi-Fi off when in sleep mode. With most Android devices the setting for this is in the advanced menu for wireless settings under "keep Wi-Fi on during sleep".

Major Problems – Advanced Fixes

Factory reset: If your Android tablet or ereader is seriously acting oddly and nothing seems to fix it, you should try performing a factory reset to wipe everything from the device to take it back to factory settings. Note that this will delete all your data and everything you added to the device.

Boot into recovery: With some Android tablets like the Google Nexus 7 you can boot into recovery mode to do things like erase data, perform a factory reset, and install firmware. The process isn’t always the same but usually involves shutting the device down and then holding the power button and volume down button at the same time. Then follow the on screen instructions.

Install factory firmware with failed boot attempts: Some devices like the Nook will automatically install the original firmware if you interrupt the boot process a set number of times. With the Nook the number is 8. I’ve gotten it to work on other devices with just 6 failed boot attempts. To do this simply shut the Android device down, and then hold the power button to turn it back on. As soon as the startup splash screen appears, hold the power button down again until the device shuts back off. Continue doing this without letting it boot fully until a factory restore screen pops up. This is a good way to fix a device that is seriously messed up, but they don’t all have this failed boot attempts fix built-in so it may not work.

Installing custom firmware: If you have tried everything and your device is still not working right, you can try installing some custom firmware. This isn’t an easy process and requires some technical work, but it’s good way to breath new life into an otherwise worthless gadget. The best place to find custom firmware is on the XDA forums. Just enter your device into the search box and let the adventure begin from there.

21 Responses to “Android Tablet and eReader Troubleshooting Guide”

  1. Thank you for very helpful information.

  2. Dewey Cromartie July 1, 2014 at 5:51 am

    I am having trouble with my tablet and I don’t know what to do about it. It keeps saying low memory, do you have any ideas on how to fix my problem?

  3. i had the touch screen panel replaced. when i turned it on, the logo appears, stay as is and nothing happened

  4. I dowloaed subway surf after that there is a bunch of words in the upper right hand corner tat keeps blinking and won’t go away please help

  5. My tablet is stuck on speaker mode and want go bk to the keyboard where i can type my name and get in i have tried everythimg even resettim it. Want do anything

  6. thankssssss, holding power button down actually helped turn it back on

  7. Christina Padilla January 4, 2015 at 11:38 am

    I hit the power button to turn it on and a blank screen came up with select boot mode:

    I accidentally hit the volume button and it’s completely not responsive now,I got it for Xmas,what do I do?my fingers gonna fall off from holding the power button on so long hoping it would restart Ughhhhh technology I tell you…smh

  8. I reset my digiland 10 inch after it crashed with the little black button and now it won’t turn back on. I tried the pressing all buttons thing and let it sit, nothing worked

  9. hi

    That’s exactly what I did and now it won’t do anything at all.

    did you ever fix yours?

    please let me know what I can do…I’m so lost. 🙁

  10. My tablet will not turn on at all. I got it for Christmas.

  11. Hi. My tablet has issues as well. On the night of the 7th day after purchase, it started to hang so I could not take it back to the store where I purchase it. The following week, it started to hang and could not be powered off, need to wait until battery is drained off. Then charge it to make it work. Thing is, after that week and issue happened, it won’t turn back on anymore. It won’t charge and it is totally “no power”. Nearest Service centers told me that it would take 3-4 months and I need to take it somewhere else and I don’t have time to do so, and if I would, it still has no chance of having it fix soonest time possible. What should I do?

    • Why would it matter that it’s been 7 days? Most places have a 30 day return policy, especially if it’s defective. If not, contact the manufacturer about the warranty.

  12. my tablet digiland dl 701q. all time i start find santa soory stop .how i can to work to remove this
    thank you

  13. I have a digiland dl701q tablet & for two days now it’s been shutting off while I’m using it I would like to know why it’s doing that.

  14. I have a Digiland 7″ and every time I play a certain game (almost all) It takes me back to home page! Its really annoying, and the weirdest thing is it makes a small click or soft click of it going to home page. Its been acting like this when I got it. Please tell me how to fix it!

  15. We just bought this, turned it on and it has been “loading” for the past two hours. Charged battery, have tried the reset button, shut off and turned back on. What could be wrong?

  16. Mine want do nothing but read Digiland it was a Christmas gift .

  17. I am having trouble with my android tablet. It boots up but as soon as it opens the main window I hear a snap noise and it shuts back down. I took off the back and listen to try to find where the snap or short noise is coming from and it sounds like it is either in the display or some where under the location under the battery/ Does anyone have any da how I can fix this problem? Thanks

  18. I got a digiland dl718m 7 inch tablet as a Christmas gift. It does not work right. When I turn it on, the screen is too light for me to see anything. What can I do about it?

  19. Now, the screen is still too light & it keeps turning itself off. Please help!