Boost your mobile speed: 5 must-know tips

09 February 2024

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Do you feel like your mobile phone is getting slower and slower? Do you have to wait for ages for your apps to load or your photos to appear? Do you get frustrated by the laggy performance and the frequent crashes? In the age of instant gratification, a sluggish device can feel like a major setback. But fear not. Whether you are team iPhone, ride or die for Android or flirt with both, this guide is your ticket to the express lane.

So, buckle up as we explore simple yet transformative tips that promise to get your device running smoother.

Understanding your device’s needs

Mobile speed is influenced by a myriad of factors, from the number of running apps to the available storage space. But it’s not just about what’s on your device – external elements like network connectivity also play a pivotal role.

Before diving into the speed-boosting pool, it’s crucial to know what makes your smartphone tick. Different brands have their nuances, but at their core, all smartphones crave attention in three areas: storage management, software health and battery life, so nurturing these areas can lead to a noticeable performance improvement. Just bear in mind that the path to optimisation can vary between brands, which means that Samsung Galaxy users might navigate different menus than those wielding an iPhone or a Google Pixel, for example.

Why does your device slow down?

Your mobile has a limited amount of storage space, which is used to store your apps, photos, videos, music and other files. When this space is full or nearly full, your device has less room to operate and process data and this can cause it to slow down or malfunction. Your device also has a limited amount of memory (RAM), which is used to run your apps and services. When you open multiple apps or tabs, your mobile uses more memory to keep them active and when your memory is low or insufficient, your device must work harder to manage the tasks.

Here are some tips to follow that will help boost your mobile.

Close up of device

1. Spring clean and declutter

Imagine your phone’s storage is a closet. You can’t keep adding clothes without eventually needing to declutter, right? The same goes for your device. If you haven’t used an app in months or can’t remember the last time you looked at those “saved for later” photos, it’s time for them to go since these still take up space and resources.

To uninstall or disable unused apps on your mobile device, follow these steps:

  • For Android devices – go to ‘Settings’ > ‘Apps & notifications’ > ‘See all apps’. Tap on the app that you want to uninstall or disable, and then tap on ‘Uninstall’ to remove the app completely. Alternatively, tap on ‘Disable’ to turn off the app temporarily. Repeat this process for any other apps that you want to uninstall or disable.
  • For iOS devices – go to ‘Settings’ > ‘General’ > ‘iPhone Storage’. Tap on the app that you want to uninstall, and then tap on ‘Delete App’ to remove the app completely. Repeat this process for any other apps that you want to uninstall.

You may also want to clear your cache and data. The former serves as a temporary storage space that your device uses to store information from things like your apps and websites, while the latter is the permanent storage space that your mobile uses to store your personal information, such as your photos, videos, music, documents, messages and the likes. Clearing these will not only free up some storage space and memory, but it may also fix some common issues, like app crashes, glitches and errors.

2. Keep your software in tip-top shape

System updates are not just about new features. They often include critical performance enhancements, bug fixes, security patches and performance improvements that can significantly improve speed. One way of doing so is to enable automatic updates for both your operating system and apps, which will ensure you’re always running the latest, sleekest versions.

To check for software updates on your mobile device, follow these steps:

  • For Android devices – go to ‘Settings’ > ‘System’ > ‘System Update for OS updates’. For app updates, open the Google Play Store app and tap on the Menu icon (three horizontal lines) on the top left corner. Tap on ‘My apps & games’ and then on ‘Update all’ to update all your apps to the latest versions. You can also avoid having to check for updates every now and again by setting the Google Play Store to auto-update apps.
  • For iOS devices – toggle on automatic updates in ‘Settings’ > ‘General’ > ‘Software Update’. On the other hand, for app updates go to ‘Settings’ > ‘General’ > ‘iPhone Storage’. Tap on the app that you want to clear the cache and data for, and then tap on ‘Offload App’ to remove the app but keep its data or tap on ‘Delete App’ to remove the app and its data. Repeat this process for any other apps you want to clear the cache and data for.

While upgrading your device is important, you should also be careful not to update too frequently or unnecessarily, as this can consume your data and battery. And as mentioned earlier, you can also turn on automatic updates for your software and apps, so you don’t have to worry about checking for updates manually.

3. Find the right balance between speed and battery life

Your phone’s battery health directly impacts its performance. Think of it like this, a tired battery = a tired phone. By optimising your battery, you’ll be able to extend its life and prevent your mobile from reducing its performance to save power.

Here is what you can do before hitting the red zone:

  • For Android devices – battery settings vary by brand, but you can generally find power-saving options under ‘Settings’ > ‘Battery’.
  • For iOS devices – check battery health in ‘Settings’ > ‘Battery’ > ‘Battery Health’. Consider using ‘Low Power Mode’ to extend its life.

In addition, you can adjust your settings, such as screen brightness, timeout, vibration, sound and location. You can also enable the power-saving mode or the ultra-power saving mode, depending on your mobile and avoid charging your smartphone overnight as it can strain the battery over time. Finally, one last resort is to replace your battery if it is old or damaged.

Person holding mobile phone in a coffee shop

4. Optimise your connectivity

When your phone struggles to maintain a strong network connection, it’s like a marathon runner trying to race on an uneven, uphill path – the effort is greater, but the progress is slower. This not only affects your browsing speed and call quality but also drains your battery faster as your device continually searches for a better signal.

To optimise your connectivity:

Prioritise Wi-Fi: whenever possible, connect to a Wi-Fi network since it is typically more stable and faster than a cellular network, plus, it is less taxing on your phone’s battery.

Use airplane mode: switch to airplane mode if you’re in an area with poor or no data coverage. This prevents your phone from constantly searching for a signal, saving battery life and reducing unnecessary strain on its performance.
Network settings tweaks: sometimes, manually selecting your network type can improve your phone’s performance and connectivity.

5. Keep it cool and avoid overheating

Managing your device’s temperature is critical for maintaining optimal performance and longevity. Mobile devices are designed with safety mechanisms to prevent overheating, one of which is thermal throttling. When your device’s internal temperature reaches a certain threshold, the system automatically slows down the processor to reduce heat production. While this helps prevent damage, it also results in noticeably slower performance. Here is what you can do:

Avoid direct sunlight and hot environments: never leave your phone in a parked car under the sun or use it for extended periods in direct sunlight. High ambient temperatures can rapidly increase internal temperature.

Manage intensive tasks: high-performance tasks like gaming, video recording or using GPS navigation can cause your phone to heat up quickly. To avoid overheating limit the duration of these activities and take breaks to let your device cool down.

Optimise charging practices: charging your phone can generate a lot of heat. Avoid using it while it’s charging, use the original charger that came with it since third-party chargers can be inefficient and produce more heat and make sure you charge your phone in a cool, ventilated area.

Close up of mobile with social media apps installed

How to avoid future slowdowns

  • App management: be selective about what you install and make sure that you install apps that you trust, need and use.
  • Limit your notifications: enable notifications that you truly need and customise your notification settings, such as sound, vibration and priority, to suit your preferences. You can also use the ‘do not disturb mode’ or the ‘silent mode’, depending on your mobile, to mute all or some of your notifications.
  • Regular checkups: treat your phone to regular maintenance checks by clearing caches, updating apps and rebooting your phone periodically.
  • Mindful usage: if you must carry out high-intensity tasks like gaming or video streaming, break up these activities with cooler periods.

Boosting your mobile’s speed doesn’t require technical wizardry or a new phone. With the tips and tricks outlined in this guide, you can breathe new life into your device, ensuring a faster, more responsive experience. Remember, the key to maintaining speed is regular maintenance and a mindful approach to app management and system updates. So, take the reins and transform your mobile into the swift, efficient companion it’s meant to be.