When it comes to portable gaming, handheld gaming systems are easy to maintain. However, smartphones are different, they are like cars: They cost a lot, but they’re pretty useful, and they live a lot longer with regular maintenance. If your iPhone or Android isn’t running as quickly and smoothly as it used to, there are at least ten easy things you can try to speed it up.
It’s possible that your phone may simply be very old and near the end of its life, but in most cases, you’ll see at least some improvement after implementing these quick fixes.
(Note that these tips are for the current versions of the Android and iOS operating systems, which are versions 9, a.k.a. “Pie” and iOS 12.4, respectively. These processes may change with future updates.)
#1 Clear Your Cache (Android & iOS)
Data caching is a ubiquitous practice that helps computers and phones run faster, conserve battery power, and use less data. When you visit a website or open an app, certain kinds of content (usually images, and sometimes text or short videos) are downloaded and temporarily stored on the device’s hard drive.
The assumption is that you’ll revisit the site or reopen the app multiple times within a certain period of time, so by storing the biggest chunks of data locally, your device doesn’t have to redownload them over and over. This temporary data is automatically deleted under certain conditions, but those conditions can vary widely, and over time, you’ll inevitably end up with more data stored locally than you really need.
Unfortunately, Android 8 removed the option to clear your entire cache at once. Now, you have to clear the cache for each app individually. To do that, navigate to Settings > Apps and notifications > See all apps. Now, tap on an app, and select Storage once more. You’ll have two options: Clear storage and Clear cache. Select the latter to clear the app’s temporary data.
You can also Clear storage to delete all of the app’s local data, but be sure you know what you’re doing beforehand. (For example, doing this to Spotify will delete any music you’ve downloaded to your phone.) Repeat this process for all of your installed apps—or at least your biggest data hogs—and you’ll be well on your way to a faster phone.
iPhone users will need to clear the cache in two places. First, go to Settings > Passwords & Accounts > Safari > Clear History and Website Data. That’ll clear your web browser’s cache.
To clear the cache for your apps, go to Settings > General > iPhone Storage > Show All to see a list of recommended apps to clean up. Tap Enable to proceed with the automatic cleanup. Alternatively, you can tap each app individually if you’d rather clear their caches on a case-by-case basis.
Alternatively, get one of the phones with the best battery life and avoid having this issue at all.
#2 Remove/Disable Bloatware (Android)
Most Android phones come with several apps pre-installed that you can’t uninstall, and they’ll just sit around taking up space forever. You can permanently delete them, but you’d need to root your phone to do so, and many people aren’t comfortable doing that. Fortunately, there’s another option.
Once you’ve identified a system app you’ll never use, simply navigate to Settings > Apps and notifications > See all apps and select the offending app. If it can’t be uninstalled, you’ll see a button that says Disable instead.
Tap it, confirm your choice in the subsequent popup, and you’re good to go. Disabling an app doesn’t remove it from your phone, but it does effectively turn it off forever. It will take up some hard drive space but otherwise won’t affect your phone’s performance at all.
#3 Check for Lightweight Versions of Your Favorite Apps (Android & iOS)
It’s still a relatively new trend, but many of the most popular apps are starting to roll out “lite” versions designed specifically to use less of your phone’s resources. Check the Play Store or App Store for tiny versions of your biggest or most commonly used apps.
#4 Disable Animations (Android and iOS)
By default, most smartphone menu and screen transitions slide or fade, which uses more memory than you might think. Turning them off will free up a small amount of processing power.
To do this, go to Settings > About phone, then tap “Build number” 7 times to enable developer mode. Once that’s done, back out to the main settings menu, then go to System > Advanced > Developer options. From there, go to Window animation scale and select Animation off.
Navigate to Settings > General > Accessibility, and in the Vision section, turn on the Reduce Motion feature. This won’t completely disable all animations, but it will simplify most of them. Anecdotal reports suggest that, at least on iOS, disabling animations may have a minimal positive impact on performance.
#5 Limit Background Processes (Android & iOS)
Normally, your phone will run as many simultaneous background processes as it can handle. This can be a major cause of slowdown, though, so putting a hard cap on background math can help.
First, enable developer mode as described above, under “Disable Animations.” Once you’ve done that, navigate to System > Advanced > Developer options and scroll all the way down to the bottom, to the “Apps” subheading. Select Background process limit and set the limit at 0, 1, 2, 3, or 4 (a lower number will increase performance more noticeably, but will cause some apps to update less frequently).
Go to Settings > General > Background App Refresh and set it to off.
#6 Try a Different Launcher (Android)
There are a lot of third-party launchers on the Play store. Most of them are fairly heavy-duty; they’ll make your phone do some cool stuff at the cost of more processing power, which is the opposite of what you want if you’re having speed problems.
A few launchers, though, are designed to be minimalistic and to increase performance. As of this writing, the slimmest one we know of is Lean Launcher. Currently, iOS does not allow or support third-party launchers.
#7 Disable Widgets and Live Wallpapers (Android & iOS)
Widgets and live wallpapers are nifty and/or useful, but they use a ton of battery and processing power. Live wallpapers are something you have to actively install on both operating systems, so simply uninstall or deactivate them if they’re already running.
On Android, widgets don’t run unless you’ve placed them somewhere on your home screen. To get rid of them, simply press and hold, then drag them to the trash. Note that this won’t uninstall the app the widget came from.
Widgets are bigger resource hogs on iOS than they are on Android, so they’re a good place to start when you need to free up memory. To see your active widgets, pull down the notification bar, scroll to the bottom of the widget list, and tap Edit. Tap the Red – button next to the widget you want to get rid of, then tap Remove.
#8 Turn Off Ambient Screen Options (Android)
By default, Android supports ambient lock screen settings such as motion-sensitive clock display, but iOS does not. Enabling these settings on an iPhone is a convoluted process, and if you’ve done it, you’ll remember doing it and you’ll know how to undo it if necessary.
On Android phones, simply navigate to Settings > Display > Advanced > Ambient display and set both options to off.
#9 Enable Data Saver Mode (Android)
iPhones don’t have an easy way to limit their data usage across all apps. You have to change various settings in each individual app, and that process varies depending on the app in question.
Android phones have a built-in feature called Data Saver that unilaterally quashes all background data usage across all apps, and turning it on can produce noticeable improvements in performance and battery life. (Note that Data Saver restricts data usage and is not the same thing as restricting background processes as detailed in section 5).
Turning on Data Saver mode couldn’t be easier—simply pull down the notification bar and it’s right there. It’s possible that you may have removed it from the shortcut menu, though. If that’s the case, find it again by going to Settings > Network & internet > Data usage > Data saver and toggle it on.
#10 Turn Off Unused Features (Android & iOS)
One of the simplest and most effective things you can do on both platforms is also the one that most people pay the least attention to. System features like WiFi, Bluetooth, and location services can consume lots of battery and/or processing power, so simply turn them off when you’re not actively using them. Yes, it’s a minor pain to develop a habit of manually turning these settings on and off all the time, but it’s often worth it.
Enjoy Longer Battery Life and Increased Performance
Regardless of which kind of smartphone you have, doing as many of these things as you can will undoubtedly speed your phone up and help its battery last longer, but even doing just one or two of them—particularly numbers 3, 5, and 10—should produce some improvement. Now you can play some of the most amazing Android games or excellent iOS titles without any trouble.