Making Android Faster: Dos and Don'ts
Some commonly followed tricks do little to speed up your smartphone, but a few simple tweaks could make a big difference
We all wish our phones were just a little faster, right? Whether you're chugging along with a device from three years ago or rocking a brand new Pixel, it's the same more speed is better. Here's what to try, and what to avoid.
The default apps and settings on Android aren't always the best if speed is your priority. Making a few changes and keeping your phone free from clutter can give you a quick performance boost.
Clean Up Your Home Screen
If your phone has a slower processor or is light on RAM, then maintaining a lean home screen can help speed it up. Live wallpapers and widgets use resources, and the latter can even continue updating in the background.
Where you're most likely to see their impact is through something called “home screen redraw“. When you switch away from a RAM-heavy app like Chrome you'll see a completely blank home screen and have to wait a couple of seconds while your icons, widgets, and wallpaper all reload. Keep your home screens tidy to avoid this.
Use a Different Launcher
The default app launcher on your phone is usually designed to showcase your device's best features. As a result it isn't always the fastest or most efficient.
There's a huge number of third party launchers in the Play Store, and many are optimized for speed. Our favorite is Nova Launcher, but it's worth experimenting with a few to find the one that's right for you.
The default web browser on Android is Chrome, and it's a pretty resource-heavy app. There are a few things you can do to improve it, but a better solution might be to switch to a whole new browser.
Some benchmark tests have shown Puffin to be the fastest Android browser, or if you prefer something more similar to Chrome, then take a look at Opera. Its data compression feature can help pages load much more quickly.
Uninstall Bad Apps
Bad apps are often to blame for slowing down your phone. It's not always obscure apps, either -some of the industry's biggest names are the culprits. Snapchat is notoriously laggy on Android, while uninstalling Facebook could make your phone as much as 15% faster. Try switching to a third party Facebook app instead. If you're a Snapchat user, you're stuck with the official app.
Remove Antivirus Software
Antivirus software offers peace of mind to Android users, but it's unnecessary, and it slows down your phone. As long as you only install apps from official sources like the Play Store or the Amazon Appstore, then you're extremely unlikely to encounter malware.
Stop Apps Auto-Syncing
Social, news, weather, and many other classes of app are set to autosync with a remote server. By default, they go online as often as every 15 minutes. Get too many of these apps installed and your phone will soon be creaking under their weight.
Check the sync schedules for all your apps and set a longer schedule of every few hours, every day, or just turn off syncing and update them manually instead.
Last up, rebooting your phone helps to keep it running smoothly.
You don't have to do it every day, but an occasional reboot will work wonders, especially if your phone gets particularly slow or starts running hotter than normal. If you try all of these tips and find that nothing works, a factory reset may be in order -just make sure you backup your data first.
What Doesn't Work
As well as the tips that do work, there are a few accepted speedboosting techniques that don't. Be wary of any app that makes grand claims about how much they can speed up your phone.
Task killers are among the most popular utilities on the Play Store, yet they are completely worthless. In fact, they can make your phone slower. A task killer closes background apps to free up RAM. The idea is that free RAM improves performance, but this isn't true.
Android is designed to keep apps in RAM so they can be restored quickly and will intelligently close apps when it needs to free up extra resources. More importantly, some processes relating to some apps will start up again as soon as they are killed because they need to be running in the background. This constant stopping and starting will slow your phone down far more than if you just leave Android to do the job it was built to do.
For the same reason, there's no need to be fastidious about manually closing apps. Again, Android manages this automatically.
If Android needs to free up resources, it will close whichever app you haven't used in a while. If not, there's no harm leaving them alone, where they will have little or no effect on either performance or battery life.
Using Any Speed Boosters
While we try to avoid generalisations, it's safe to say you should avoid any non-root app that promises to improve the performance of your phone. This includes RAM boosters, SD card speeder-uppers, and defragmenters. They rarely work, can actually slow your phone down, and are often packed with highly intrusive ads.
Andy Betts MM26DEC16