Why Android Slows Down Over Time (and how to fix it)

by Dan Forster - , Last Updated on July 24, 2015, How To Guides

We’ll start with a blunt truth: all electronics slow down over time. No matter whether you’re talking about your PC, your iPhone, or your Android device, chances are that after a year or more you’re not going to be getting the same speeds as you used to. However, it seems to be Android users that complain the most about lack of speeds, maybe because their system is so customisable and there’s more chance of something accidentally slowing down their OS. So today we’re taking a look at why Android might slow down and what you can do about it…

Your Phone is Too Old, or Your OS is Too New

Phones tend to be built around an operating system, but obviously, as time goes on, newer versions of an operating system are released. It’s not unusual to open a brand new phone, switch it on, and download an operating system update immediately. However, the further away your original Android version is from your updated version (for example, a phone that runs Android 2.0 out of the box updating to Android 5.0), the less speed you’re likely to get. This is simply because your phone isn’t optimised to use this new update. The update will run, sure, but it won’t run seamlessly.

So what can you do? You can revert back to older Android versions if you like, though this is a pretty complicated procedure and not for the faint of heart (search online for more info on that). On the whole though, you’re best sticking with what you’ve got, or getting a newer phone. Downgrading your Android version is tricky, and will also mean that certain apps will no longer work, since app updates are linked to operating system updates.

You’ve Got Too Much Bloatware

Okay, Android wants to upgrade their operating system on your phone, but your phone’s manufacturer also wants to update or upgrade things. Unfortunately, a lot of what phone manufacturer’s preinstall and then update on phones is what is known as bloatware. These are apps and programmes that you simply don’t use, that take up space, often that run on default even if you haven’t opened them, and that can be tough and sometimes impossible to delete.

How do you get rid of bloatware? Again, it’s not easy, but the best way is to install a custom ROM system, something like Cyanogen Mod. This, once it’s installed on your phone, will let you delete default apps more easily as well as letting you decide what runs and when, giving you more control over that bloatware. Installing a custom ROM isn’t as complicated as reverting to an older Android version though, so it might be worth a try.

Your Apps Are Too Heavy

Another factor could be the apps that you’re downloading. Apps are getting better all the time, more detailed, better graphics, more speed. But this means that they’re also heavier, meaning they’re taking up more space on your phone.

If this is your problem, then the fix is simple. Go into your app manager, sort the folders by size and remove the apps that are taking up a lot of memory space. In the future, make sure you check how big an app is before downloading it.

Your Phone is Full

Most phones these days are SSD (Solid State Drive), and SSD memory can become extremely slow when it becomes full. If you’ve got a 16 GB phone and 15 GB of that memory is full, your mobile is going to be slow to react no matter what it’s doing.

The fix for this is an easy one: free up some memory space! An simple way to often get a solid chunk of memory back is to clear your cache files. Go into settings, storage, then cached data and hit delete. You won’t be losing anything important here, and you should get more memory space and therefore more speed. You can also try deleting apps that you don’t use, and looking at your file manager to delete things that you’re not using. The download file is commonly one that’s taking up a lot of space and yet is filled with things we don’t actually use, so try there first.

You’re Running Too Many Background Processes

There are a whole bunch of things that might be going on in the background of your phone, stealing speed, completely unnoticed by you. Some apps switch on by default, particularly apps that are connected in some way to your location. These tend to run as soon as you start your phone, and could be using up resources that would be better used else where.

Again, the fix is pretty easy. Go into your application manager and hit the tab that says “running.” You’ll get a list of all the apps that are currently running on your phone. If you see an app there that you never use then delete it. If you can’t delete it, or if you think you might want to use it in the future, then touch the app name and check the option for “disable.” You can enable the app again any time you want to.

What About a Reset?

Finally, a complete factory reset might get you back some of your speeds, though it won’t solve problems with bloatware and operating system updates, it is a good way of getting rid of files and apps that you don’t use and that might be difficult to find.

First, you’ll need to back your phone up somewhere (using your manufacturer’s free PC software is usually the easiest way). Then head into your phone’s settings menu and find the “factory reset” option. Be warned that this will completely wipe your phone, so anything that’s not backed up will be lost. Once your phone has been reset, carefully choose which apps, photos, music tracks or whatever you want to put back onto your device. Hopefully, you’ll get a bunch of free memory space in the process.

Your Android phone is going to slow down over time, and at some point will probably slow down enough that you’ll just want to get a new device. However, these are a few ways that you can get back some of that speed in the mean time.