If you’ve owned your phone for a long time then chances are you’ve found it feels slower and less responsive than it used to be. Even the best phones around will slowly but surely become sluggish without some care and attention. This is the case whether you own and Android phone or an Apple iPhone.
Not to worry though as we’ve got a number of different tips to help minimise this problem and speed things up again.
Turn your phone off and on again
It might be a bit cliche but sometimes the easiest solutions are the best. Turning your phone off and on again can help in a number of ways. If you never turn your phone off and just opt to leave it on charge overnight and use it during the day then simply restarting it might speed things up.
Rebooting your phone can help by freeing up the memory and freshening things up a bit. We’ve written guides on how to restart your iPhone, reboot your Pixel and how to power off your Samsung Galaxy phone too. We’d recommend checking those guides out and giving that a go before venturing any further as you might find that’s enough on its own.
Clear your cache first
If it’s not your entire phone that’s being slow, but just some particular apps that are giving you problems then it might well be down to the cache. It’s possible to clear an app’s cache and flush out potential problems. Caching can help your phone run smoothly but it can also sometimes cause issues that actually do the opposite and slow it down instead.
We’ve written guides on how to do this for your particular phone, so give that a go too:
Free up phone storage space
Over time you’ll find that your phone’s storage fills up with all the things you’ve installed, files you’ve downloaded or photos you’ve taken. You only have so much internal storage and the fuller it gets the more problems it can cause. Without any free space, your phone will have less memory to work with and this can lead to performance issues that cause your phone to feel sluggish and unresponsive.
Luckily there are steps you can take to free up some of that space and make it usable again. This includes deleting unwanted apps, removing your photos, emptying your bin and more. Removing large unused games and apps you rarely touch is one of the easiest things to do. You’ll be surprised how much difference it can make when you start clearing things out though.
We’ve detailed how to do this with both Android and iOS devices:
Update your phone
If you’re not staying on top of the latest updates then you might find that simply checking for system updates for your phone and installing them can help as well. Phone manufacturers will eventually roll out both security and software updates to phones that can help smooth out any issues you might be having. These are worth installing whatever you’re doing, but they can also be useful to help with addressing problems.
Again we’ve written detailed guides on how to do this with different phones:
Factory reset your phone
If all else fails then a factory reset might be a sensible step. This is a bit drastic as you’ll lose all the data, apps and more that’s on your phone and you’ll have to redownload everything and log back into accounts, but it can also help wipe any problems away and start from scratch.
It’s possible to factory reset most devices including both Android and iOS phones with relative ease but we’d recommend trying out the other options first as this method puts your phone back in the state it was when you bought it. Follow our guides to find out how to do it though:
Check your broadband speed
One thing to keep in mind is sometimes your phone being slow might not actually be your phone but your connection to the internet. If you notice apps loading slowly or your device feeling sluggish that’s one thing, but web pages loading slowly or videos buffering might be down to signal.
We’d recommend checking you’re getting the best speeds out of your home broadband. You can quickly test the internet speed you’re getting by using these free Speedtest apps. If doing that shows a low score then you might like to look at tweaking your router settings or investing in better home internet. Especially if your phone is noticeably slower when you’re at home on your Wi-Fi connection but faster when you’re out and about with a 5G connection.
If you think your phone is slow then sometimes it pays to make small changes too. One thing you can do is stop using widgets, especially if the widgets are dynamic and update regularly in the background. Some widgets can be resource intensive and if you’re using a lot of them on your phone then these might lead to issues. It might be worth considering uninstalling them along with any other apps you’re removing.
Turn off location tracking
Another thing that regularly updates and sends data back and forth from your phone is location tracking. Apps and navigation tools can use location tracking to improve your user experience but this sort of tracking might also have a negative impact on both your battery life and your phone speed. It might be worth trying to turn this location tracking off to see if this helps alleviate your problems.
Consider an upgrade
Unfortunately, over time the hardware in your device will start to become less efficient. The battery is usually one of the first signs of problems when it’s no longer holding charge as well but other signs of ageing may crop up too. A slow phone is a painful sign that it might be time to upgrade. It’s an unfortunate fact of modern tech ownership that you’ll eventually need to upgrade. Whether that’s because of planned obsolescence or because you’re no longer getting system updates because your phone is just seen as «too old» and brands just aren’t pushing updates for it anymore.
If you’ve tried all our other recommendations and you still feel like your phone is frustratingly slow then it might well be time to consider an upgrade. Luckily there are plenty of great phones out there and some brilliant mid-range and budget ones too. So upgrading doesn’t have to be painful.
Why do phones get slower?
There are a lot of different reasons why a phone may slow down and become a problem over time. Naturally, wear and tear will have some impact on how well a phone works. After a couple of years of use your phone’s battery will have degraded in quality for a start. This can impact how long the battery lasts but also might mean that clever software-level battery management systems also slow your phone down so the battery doesn’t drain as fast during the day.
Things like low power mode on iPhone and battery saver on Android phones may then have a negative impact on performance.
One of the main things that slows a phone down is just standard use. If you’re using your phone a lot and you’ve had it for a couple of years or more then chances are you’ve downloaded a lot of apps, taken a lot of photos and downloaded a lot of files as well. All this fills up the storage on your phone and you might not have given much or any thought to actually clearing that storage at any point. Your phone then gets clogged up and struggles with storage problems which in turn results in it feeling slow and cumbersome. Luckily these sorts of issues can be easily fixed.