A common complaint among smartphone users is that their phones have slowed down; they say it takes “forever” to open apps or browse the internet.
It’s normal for older phones to slow down over time. But the problem isn’t always because of the age of the phone (although that can be a factor). It can also be due to newer operating systems and app requirements.
New app and operating systems are geared to the latest phone versions, so your older phone may not be able to keep up well.
How To Speed Up a Slow Cell Phone
In addition to the issues I mentioned above, there are other explanations for your phone slowing down. So let’s go through a few of those reasons and talk about what you can do to get things moving again.
Restart Your Phone
You should restart your phone at least once a week. Power it off, let it rest for a few minutes (or overnight), and then restart it.
Restarting will close any apps that are open and using memory. Some apps are prone to memory leaks, and that can drain the battery and slow things down. You might also notice apps are crashing or not behaving properly; restarting can clear that up.
“Bloatware” is a term used to describe some of the pre-installed apps that come on your phone. These can be manufacturer-specific apps, carrier-specific apps or third-party apps.
While many of the apps cannot be uninstalled, you can disable most of them.
On an Android phone, open the settings menu and then tap “Apps.” Scroll down through the list and tap the apps you want to disable then tap the “Disable” button for each one.
If you have an iPhone you can uninstall or disable apps from the settings menu or from the home screen. On the home screen, tap and hold the app, then tap “Delete.” You can remove the app in the app library the same way.
Note: If you buy an unlocked phone, you can sometimes avoid having the carrier-specific apps installed. Plus, you can take the phone with you if you decide to switch providers.
I frequently shop around for a better price on cell service, so I always buy an unlocked phone so that I can take it with me when I change carriers.
Free Up Storage Space
A lack of available storage space may slow your phone down. If you find you are low on space, you can delete files, pictures, videos and apps you no longer need.
Here are guides to help you free up space on an Android or iPhone:
Clear Your Cache
The cache is a temporary storage of data files used by the apps on your phone. A cache is not a bad thing — and can actually be useful.
For example, if you use a music app on your phone, it may access the cached data to open your playlist more quickly. The program uses these files as a reference so that it doesn’t have to recreate the playlist each time you access it.
But over time the cache can become quite large and should be cleared out. When you use the app again, the cache will be rebuilt.
On an Android, open the settings menu and then tap “Apps.” Go through the list of apps and tap each one to open and then tap “Storage” and then “Clear cache.” You don’t have to do this for every app, but you should do it for the apps you use most often.
For an iPhone, open the settings menu and find the apps you use regularly. Tap to select an app and then tap “Reset cached content.”
Clear Your Web Browsing Data
When you use your phone’s web browser, data is collected and saved. Like the app cache, this data can enable pages to load more quickly, but it can also build up and slow things down over time. Clearing the data occasionally should help get things back to normal.
On an Android phone, the default browser is Google Chrome. Open the Google Chrome browser and click the three little dots in the top right corner. Then tap “History” and then “Clear browsing data.”
On an iPhone, most people use the default browser Safari. To clear the data, open the settings menu and then tap “Safari” and then “Clear history.”
Update the Software
Don’t ignore the notifications that you get about updates for the operating system or the apps you have installed. Software updates not only add new features and provide enhancements, they often contain bug fixes, address security vulnerabilities and can speed up your device.
To update the apps on an Android, open the Google Play Store and then tap the profile icon in the top right corner. Then tap “Manage apps and devices.” You should see a list of available updates. You can choose to update the apps all at once, and you can also enable automatic updates.
To check manually for updates for the operating system, open the settings menu and then tap “Software update.” You should not need to do this since your phone will notify you when an update is released, but you can check there to be sure all is well.
To update the apps on an iPhone, open the app store and then tap your profile photo in the top right corner. Scroll down and you will see the list of apps that have been updated or are pending updates. Refresh the view by pulling the screen down from the top.
If you see any apps that have an update available, tap “Update all.” You can turn on automatic updates for your apps so that when an update is released, it is automatically downloaded and installed. See this from Apple on how to check for iOS updates and how to turn on automatic updates.
Bonus Tip: Avoid Severe Temperatures
Extreme hot or cold temperatures can damage cell phones and other electronics. If a phone gets too hot, it can experience problems like battery drain, random forced shutdowns and internal damage to the phone’s hardware.
One obvious cause of overheating is the temperature and the environment the phone is in. If you are outside on a hot day or leave your phone lying in direct sunlight, it can overheat very quickly. If you have your phone outside, never leave it in a place where it gets direct sunlight. The same is true for cold temperatures, so don’t leave your phone in a cold car or other location.
Another cause of overheating is too many apps open or running in the background. Each app uses the battery and if the battery is overworked, it can overheat. Make sure you close apps that you’re not using.
Overcharging your phone can also cause the battery to overheat. Once your phone is charged, unplug it from the charger.
These are just some of the ideas to keep your phone running well. It is better to prevent problems from happening than to wait for things to slow down or break.