We’ve all been there — you have a strong cellular or WiFi signal, but your phone is struggling to perform the simplest commands: opening or updating apps, performing a simple search, playing videos, or responding to simple game commands. A few easy-to-fix reasons why your phone might be slow include:
- A need to clear your random-access memory (RAM)
- A low-performing battery
- Low or no storage
Luckily, these common fixes (listed below) can help make your phone faster.
1. Do a soft reset
The first solution to just about any problem with an electronic device is a reset. It’s not magic — the more apps you use on your phone, the more pieces of software code fill up your phone’s RAM. As the RAM fills up, bits of computer code from the same app get scattered about in different areas. When you reset, everything in your RAM gets cleared out, like sweeping away those dust bunnies. Here’s how to reset your phone based on the model that you have:
iPhone: Press and hold down the Home and Power buttons at the same time until the phone shuts down. Even after the screen goes blank, continue holding down these buttons until the Apple logo shows up on the display. Once that happens, you can release the buttons, and the phone should open to your home screen.
Android: For phones with a removable battery, remove the back of the phone, pull out the battery, and then put it back in. For phones with a non-removable battery, hold the power and volume buttons down simultaneously and don’t release until the boot-up animation appears on the screen.
2. Check your battery
Two or three years in a battery’s life is ancient. If you find your older phone slowing down, you might have a low-performing battery. Even newish batteries can act up, especially if they’re defective or if they’ve been overused. Here’s how to check whether your battery is the slow-phone culprit:
iPhones: If you have an iPhone 6 or later (with the latest operating system), go to Settings > Battery > Battery Health. There, you can check your battery’s maximum capacity, which should be somewhere between 0 and 100 percent. A normal Apple battery retains up to 80 percent of its original capacity. As the battery ages, this percentage will shrink until, eventually, the battery will no longer hold a charge.
Under “Battery Health” in your settings, you can also check “Peak Performance Capacity”, which will tell you one of five things:
If your battery is not functioning properly, it’s time to contact Apple Support.
Androids: Phones with an Android-based operating system require an app to check battery health, such as the AccuBattery app, which works on devices with Android 5.0 and higher. This app shows:
- Your phone's current battery capacity
- The battery consumption when installed apps are running in the foreground
- Estimates for how long you can use your phone before recharging
- What percentage of the time your phone is in deep sleep
- The history of the battery’s charging and discharging health
- The charging speeds of your cables via a test
If your battery is on the way out, it’s time to replace it.
3. Free up some storage
With all the photos, videos, games, and apps we store on our phones, it’s no wonder our phones are always running out of storage space. These files can steal resources from your phone’s computer processing unit (CPU), fill up the memory, and bring your device to a crawl. Try these tips to free up some space on your phone:
iPhones: To see where your memory is going, go to Settings > General > iPhone Storage. You can save space by enabling the “Offload Unused Apps” function. Select “Review Large Attachments”, and then see if there’s anything you can delete. You can also see which apps use the most memory and when you’ve last used them. If you use Safari as your web browser, return to the main Settings menu and scroll down to Safari. Tap “Clear History and Website Data” to clear the cache. Lastly, return to the main Settings menu and select Privacy > Location Services. If Location Services are on, be sure it’s only on for apps while you’re using them.
Android: If you have the latest operating system (called “Oreo”), making space on your phone is easy. Go to Settings > Storage and click the “Free Up Space” button at the top. A list of items will appear, such as downloaded files, photos, videos, and “Infrequently Used Apps.” Select what you want to delete and voilà — you’ve cleaned house. To clear your cache, go to Settings > Find Apps, then locate the app and click the “Clear Cache” button.
For both devices, saving your photos and videos to a cloud-based service and deleting them from your phone can be a huge space saver.
Everyone experiences a slow phone from time to time. By doing a soft reset, making sure your battery is good health, and freeing up some storage, you’ll be back on the fast track in no time. And if these simple fixes don’t work, it might be time for a new phone.