There’s nothing like opening up the box containing your brand-new phone. There are no smudges or scratches, and it is just so shiny.
Besides the outer flawlessness of this little beloved rectangle, it’s even more beautiful on the inside. When you first turn on that new phone, it’s lightning fast. Every app opens immediately and transitions among apps happen in the blink of an eye.
Then a year goes by.
You can deal with the little scratches on the outside, but the sluggishness of the phone kills you. You try to open an app, and it seems like eternity before it comes to life. Going from screen to screen is painstakingly slow. Is it possible to speed up your precious phone?
Start easy with a simple reset.
Doing this will clear out the memory and a lot of services running in the background. For Android phones, hold down the power button, select “Restart” and tap “OK.” On iPhones, hold down the sleep button on the right edge of your phone. When the “slide to power off” option appears, swipe it, and the phone will power down.
Make sure you have the latest software updates.
You may not think it matters, but these often come with bug fixes that will help your phone run smoother and faster. You should get notifications when updates are available, but you can check by going to “Settings.” For Android, then head to “About phone” and select “System (or Software) updates.” On iPhones, tap on “General” before tapping “Software Update.”
Delete apps you don’t use.
Remember that photo filter you only used once? Or how about that game your kid used to play but hasn’t touched in months? Clear them out. If you’ve purchased the app, you’ll always be able to re-download it without having to pay again if you decide you want it back. On Android phones, open the app drawer. Press and hold the app you don’t need and drag it to the “Uninstall” option. While you can’t do away with any pre-installed Android app, you can at least disable them so they won’t run in the background.
For iPhones, you can tap and hold an app icon and then hit the “X” when it starts to wiggle. Another option is to go to “Settings,” then “General” and “Storage & iCloud Usage.” Under “Storage,” tap “Manage Storage.” This is a fascinating way to see all your apps and how much space they take up on your phone. See one you don’t need? Just tap it and hit “Delete App.”
Get rid of pictures you don’t want.
While you’re in the deleting mood, go through your photos and get rid of all those pictures you accidentally took of the ground or your hand. Also clear out multiples you don’t need from using burst mode. Do you really need 20 photos of your cat in a sweater? Then move over to your messaging app and delete messages and threads dragging down your speed. Pay special attention to those texts that really rob space on your phone because they contain a bunch of GIFs, photos or videos.
Turn off features running in the background.
Android users should be selective about which widgets are running on the home screen. Yes, they can be cool, but most are unnecessary. Dump the ones you don’t really need by holding down the widget and dragging it to the “Remove” option.
Those with iPhones should turn off a couple of features that you probably don’t realize are always running in the background. Automatic Downloads shares your purchases to all your devices, but isn’t really necessary. You may not even want a certain app you bought for your phone to appear on your computer.
Head to “Settings,” then “iTunes & App Stores” and toggle off the Automatic Downloads. If your phone is sluggish, iPhone users may also want to turn off Background App Refresh. That way, the apps won’t run in the background. You can turn it off for all apps at once, or on an app-by-app basis. Head to “Settings,” then “General” and tap on “Background App Refresh.” Be ruthless here. Most apps never need to run in the background.
Simple things like these can really speed up your phone. Just making sure you turn off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi when you aren’t using them can help speed it up.
Take a few moments to put a little pep back in your phone’s step. It’s the best you can do until that glorious moment comes again (better than Christmas morning) when you finally decide it’s time to upgrade.