As is the case with all desktop and mobile operating systems, the performance of your Android OS will start to diminish after you use it for some time. System customizations, some types of patches and updates and storage used all have some effect on system performance.
Mobile operating systems are designed to be lighter and faster to fit in a tiny package, and still give us access to everything imaginable. At least, that’s the theory. Want the best of both worlds?
Here are 11 tips to speed up your Android phone, tablet or other device:
1: Know your Device
It’s important to understand the capabilities (and potential drawbacks) of your mobile device. Don’t overload the device with resource-hungry apps which degrade performance.
2: Update your Android OS when possible
If you haven’t updated your Android phone to the latest firmware, you should do so. Google adds improvements and bug fixes to each new release of the Android operating system, including updates that improve stability, higher performance speed and connectivity.
3: Update Your Apps
You should regularly update your installed apps from Google Play. Developers fix bugs and add features in new released versions of apps. Updated apps perform better and faster, and (usually) are less likely to crash your phone.
4: Remove or Disable Unwanted Apps
Every app you install in your device takes up storage space and runs some background processes. The more storage space occupied and the more background processes running, the slower your device performance.
Keep only the apps that you need and if you have got an app that isn’t really useful, you can uninstall or disable it.
Your phone can come preloaded with as many as two dozen apps from the carrier and third parties such as Amazon. If you don’t use these apps you should get rid of them, because they could be running in the background even if you’ve never opened them.
Unfortunately, unless you have rooted your phone (a complex process that almost certainly voids your warranty, see below), you can’t always delete preloaded apps. But you can disable them so that they can’t run in the background, update themselves or appear in your app drawer. Disabling apps is different from uninstalling them. Uninstallation removes the application files from the phone but no file is removed/deleted when you disable it. These disabled apps are not shown on the home screen or app tray but you can re-enable them for use whenever you need them.
5: Get a High-Speed Memory Card
Your memory card is the “hard drive” of your device. A quality memory card adds not only capacity but also speed. You can get between 2GB to 32GB of storage space to support high speed read/write operations. Look for memory cards of Class 6 or Class 10.
6: Use Fewer Widgets
Unlike most apps, widgets are always running in the background. Some keep track of the weather and important dates. Others such as Extended Controls allow quick access to essential configurations such as switching Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or GPS on or off.
They can be useful but bear in mind that having too many of them running on your homescreen will degrade your device performance.
7: Remove or Modify Live Wallpapers
Devices from different manufacturers come with different live wallpapers. Live wallpapers that are badly made will need more CPU cycles to run, thus draining the battery faster. Every time you activate the home screen, you run not only your apps, but also your live wallpaper.
8: Stop Sync
Sync is a feature which synchronizes your data with Google servers. Keeping sync on allows you to be notified when new email comes in or when you get new notifications or updates for apps. To do this, it performs a refresh operation at preset intervals. For example, checking your mail server every 5 minutes for new incoming mail. This will eat into your device resources, limiting what’s available for other activities.
You can disable Sync for unrequired services or enable it only when you need to transfer content to or from Google servers.
9: Turn off Animations
What animations? For example: your phone screen fades in and out between windows as you switch from one task to the other. When you shut off Animations, the screen simply snaps to position without any CPU-intensive special effects. You can also turn off Transition Animation Scale in the same way. If you are a heavy user, you’ll likely notice that your device gets a noticeable performance boost with all animations off.
10: Use a Task Killer or Manager
Use a task killer (such as Advanced Task Killer or Super Task Killer from Google Play) to kill background processes and other apps that you don’t need or don’t use.
Set options to automatically kill unnecessary apps (based on your selections) after every set period of time. Some of the examples include Update Manager (updates don’t come every minute/hour) or any manufacturer-installed app which you don’t require.
11: Root your device
Android is built on the Linux kernel. Like any other OS, it can be “rooted”. Rooting your device gives you administrator level access, which means that you can uninstall the apps that came with your phone but may not be what you want to use.
Rooting gives you additional options to do with your phone. Although rooting is a risky solution, it is not as risky as it used to be. Fair warning: this might “brick” your phone (make it unuseable and in need of extensive firmware repair). In addition, a successful root will void your warranty. However, you can unroot the phone (which will restore your warranty, as the manufacturers cannot tell if you previously rooted the device). Rooting is an advanced procedure, and you definitely want to research this option for your specific device. If at all possible, ask the advice of someone familiar with performing this sort of operation.
Here’s some of the things you’ll be able to do after rooting your device:
- Overclock (speed up) your device processor. This will speed up your phone, but will also consume more power. It also causes the device to generate more heat, and may reduce the useful life of the device.
- Install a custom ROM. The ROM is the version of the Android OS on your phone. A custom ROM is not an official one, but (depending on your needs) might serve you better. While this might solve some of your Android issues (lag issues and having a newer version of the Android OS, for example) it is a very advanced, risky and not a recommended solution. Sometimes the custom ROM might not be stable, or could contain bugs. You are likely to find features missing that were in the official ROM.
- The ability to delete unwanted pre-installed applications. In case you wanted to delete some applications, notice two things here:
- Download a backup application to back up the application before deleting it (in case you wanted to restore it later).
- Take care not to delete important system application, such as the launcher or the status bar.
- Rooting also gives you access to more advanced applications such as root call blockers, normal and notification ad blockers and root memory managers.
With these and other tips: Bear in mind that your Android phone or device – just as with any other computer – is not a static, unchanging bit of hardware. Customizations, upgrades and optimizations are a continually moving target. With regular tune-ups, your android device can have a much longer life as an essential and useful tool and save the expense of upgrading to a newer device as often.