How to Speed Up Your Old Android Phone

How to Speed Up Your Old Android Phone
Photo: Chikena, Shutterstock

If your Android phone has been slowing to a crawl multiple times a day, you may be thinking it’s time to upgrade. But before you run out and purchase a new one — and assuming you’ve already tried a basic restart — there are a few other steps you can take to reduce or eliminate those annoying slowdowns.

Update the software on your Android phone

Updates often bring performance and security improvements, along with bug fixes. All of these things are important and can speed up your smartphone. Go to Settings > System update, and tap Download and install.

Update laggy apps to fix random slowdowns

You may find you’re experiencing slowdowns in the apps you use the most. For example, Facebook or Instagram may be slow but the rest of your phone is operating at an acceptable speed. In this case, open the Play Store and update the offending apps first. (Tap your profile picture in the top-right corner in Play Store, select Manage apps & device, and go to the Manage tab. Updates may fix issues that lead to slowdowns in various Android apps.

Disable animations

A particularly old phone may not be able to handle Android’s animations smoothly anymore. If that’s you, consider disabling animations on your Android phone. To do so, you’ll need to enable developer mode first: Go to Settings > About phone and scroll to the bottom. Tap Build number seven times — this will enable developer mode on your Android phone.

Go to Settings > System > Developer options and scroll down to the Drawing section. Tap Window animation scale, and select Animation off. Then select the same option under Transition animation scale and Animation duration scale.

Your phone won’t have the same snazzy UI anymore, but it may run faster, which is worth the trade-off.

Limit apps that run in the background

Most Android phones are good at freezing apps that run in the background so they don’t impact your phone’s performance. However, if you are facing slowdowns, you could consider limiting the number of apps that can run in the background. Once again, you’ll have to enable developer mode to get the job done. (See instructions above.)

Now navigate to Settings > System > Developer options and scroll to the Apps section. Select Background process limit and choose the option that suits you the most. You can choose to stop any app from running in the background or allow one to four apps to run when you’re not actively using them.

While this may improve your phone’s performance, note that it will have a negative impact on battery life because your smartphone will have to launch most apps each time you open them, which takes up more system resources and, as a result, drains your battery life.

Free up storage space

Sometimes too many apps and too much stored data can also slow down your phone. Freeing up space can provide a big boost to its performance. If your phone is laggy, check the app library and clear out any apps you no longer use. Press and hold the app’s icon and select Uninstall to delete it. (Don’t forget to unlink your accounts from an app before removing it.)

If you are having trouble finding unused apps, go to Settings > Storage > Manage Storage. This will redirect you to Google’s Files app, where you will see a card labelled Delete unused apps. Hit Select apps, select the apps you want to get rid of, and then tap Uninstall.

You can also note that apps such as Netflix allow you to store downloaded files on the microSD card (if your phone has one). Freeing up internal storage goes a long way towards speeding up your device.

While you’re at it, take a moment to clear the app cache, too.

Factory reset the device

If all else fails, you can try a factory reset to erase all data and restore it to factory settings. This will remove everything from your smartphone, though, so it’s a last-resort option. Check if your Android backups are functioning correctly, and back up your device to avoid losing data.

Then go to Settings > System > Advanced options > Erase all data (factory reset), and follow the on-screen prompts.

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