Android tablets sold like hot cakes even a few years back. But with larger phones and hybrid laptops, sales of Android tablets have declined steadily. Even Apple’s tablet has seen lower sales. Most companies are cutting down on tablet production as well as making new tablets running on mobile OSes.
If you have an old Android tablet lying around, here is a step by step guide on how you can refurbish your old tablet.
1. See if the hardware is alright
Is the tablet running properly? Does the battery work? Is the screen functional? Yes, the software may be old, but first, see if you can turn on the device and if everything works fine or not.
Things to check include the screen, camera, battery, speakers, vibration, GSM service (in any) and storage. Once everything checks out, you can proceed.
2. Reset it, root it.
There is a reason you stopped using the tablet. Maybe it got too laggy, maybe it ran out of storage. Since it is now not being used actively, we can start by performing a reset. Once the device resets, you can go one step further and root it. Rooting is optional, but what rooting does is that it enables you to remove a bunch of OEM apps.
Before rooting, connect the device to the internet and update it. Make sure it is running on the latest version of Android before you root it.
If your device runs Android 5 or older, you can attempt to root it using KingoRoot. It is quite simple and most instructions are available on their website here. For Android 6 or higher, rooting process is a little more complicated. You can search the internet with your exact make and model to get the method. XDA forum is a useful place to find such resources. Generally, the rooting process involves unlocking the bootloader of your Android device and flashing it. If none of it makes any sense to you, then you are probably better off without rooting.
3. Remove everything that you do not need
Go to the Play Store and install CCleaner. This comes quite handy while removing apps in bulk. Open CCleaner and go to the App Manager section. Here, select all the things that you do not need and simply uninstall them.
Apps you can remove include all OEM apps, live wallpapers, most Google Apps excluding the Play Store and Play Store Services, and any other third-party apps that came bundled with the app.
4. Install only what you need
Keep the number of apps installed to a bare minimum. Assuming that your tablet will be a secondary device, just install the set of apps that you will need for the purpose.
You can replace most of Google’s apps with smaller and lighter apps. For example, VLC media player will cover all your audio and video needs, WPS Office will easily replace both Google’s Suite as well as Microsoft’s Office Suite. If you want to use the phone for social media, then you can use Facebook Lite and Messenger Lite. Even better, you the browser for accessing the websites. Both Chrome and Firefox are good choices. On slower internet connections and older chipsets, Opera Mini also works great. For reading books, Lithium is a great option. You can also add Night Screen for reading in the dark.
5. Keeping your tablet in shape
Once you have installed all that you need, you will have to install a couple of other apps to help keep your older version of Android running smoothly. One of them is CCleaner. There are many alternatives to cleaning your Android device, but CCleaner is one of the safest apps to clean your Android. You can also use Norton Clean.
Now, to prevent battery draining and to save memory, you can use another app called Greenify to force close all apps that you do not need. Greenify needs to be set up with a list of apps that it will close automatically when the device is locked. You can also use to manually trigger that app that will kill unnecessary apps in one go. It takes a couple of seconds to do that if your device is not rooted.
Customization is really limited to such old devices. Most older devices had 1GB RAM. 2GB is the minimum at the time of writing this article. However, you can still use icon pack and launchers without crippling your device if you want a more refurbished look on your device. Google Now, Apex Launcher, Nova Launcher, Square Home 2 – all work excellently on tablets. However different launchers have different memory footprint, so you need to check if any such launcher is affecting performance or not.
Once done, you can use your tablet in whatever way you intend to. If you are unsure, here is a list of ways in which you can repurpose your old Android tablet.