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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 Google Pixel XL Review and Giveaway Google Pixel XL Review and Giveaway Google's first branded device delivers one of the best devices in the Android ecosystem: the $770 Pixel XL. The XL launched with similar specs as the $500 Nexus 6P, but is it worth $770? Read More , it’s the same — more speed is better.

Here’s what to try, and what to avoid.

What Works: The Basics

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.

declutter-homescreen

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 7 Chrome for Android Settings to Improve Your Browser 7 Chrome for Android Settings to Improve Your Browser These simple but little-known tweaks will make your Chrome browsing experience so much better on Android. Read More 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.

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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.

launchers

There’s a huge number of third party launchers 5 Awesome Free Launchers You May Not Know About [Android] 5 Awesome Free Launchers You May Not Know About [Android] I'm an Android user because I love to tinker with my phone and change it up every once in a while. Android lets me do that easily right out of the box because it was... Read More 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.

Change Browsers

The default web browser on Android is Chrome, and it’s a pretty resource-heavy app 5 Hidden Chrome for Android Tweaks That You Need to Try 5 Hidden Chrome for Android Tweaks That You Need to Try Once you activate these flags in Chrome, your browsing experience is going to be so much better. Read More . There are a few things you can do to improve it, but a better solution might be to switch to a whole new browser.

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 How Facebook Is Ruining Your Android (and What You Can Do) How Facebook Is Ruining Your Android (and What You Can Do) If you care about battery life, performance, or privacy, you're going to want to uninstall the official Facebook app and use one of these alternatives. Read More . Try switching to a third party Facebook app The Best Third-Party Facebook Apps for Android Compared The Best Third-Party Facebook Apps for Android Compared Don't like the official Facebook app? That's okay -- there are some solid alternatives. Read More 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 Malware on Android: The 5 Types You Really Need to Know About Malware on Android: The 5 Types You Really Need to Know About Malware can affect mobile as well as desktop devices. But don't be afraid: a bit of knowledge and the right precautions can protect you from threats like ransomware and sextortion scams. Read More .

Stop Apps Auto-Syncing

Social, news, weather, and many other classes of app are set to auto-sync 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.

autosyncing

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.

Reboot Regularly

Last up, rebooting your phone helps to keep it running smoothly.

reboot

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 Here's A Free, Multi-Layered Plan To Back Up A Non-Rooted Android Here's A Free, Multi-Layered Plan To Back Up A Non-Rooted Android Even with a non-rooted Android device, you can have a solid backup plan – and it doesn't have to cost you a dime! Read More first.

What Works: The Geekier Stuff

Want something a bit more advanced? If you like delving into hidden settings, or if your device is rooted, then you have even more opportunities to speed up Android.

Speed Up Animations

Android is packed with animations and transitions that give the operating system a slick look and make it fun to use. A hidden setting enables you to control the speed of these animations. In turn, that improves the speed — or at least the perceived speed — of your phone.

animation-speed

To access it go to Settings > Developer options and set Window animation scale, Transition animation scale, and Animator duration scale to .5x. This cuts the length of the animations by half (you can turn them off entirely, if you want). If you can’t see the Developer options, you’ll need to enable it first. Go to Settings > About phone and tap on Build number seven times to make the option appear.

Try a Different ROM

A custom ROM contains a complete build of the Android operating system, and it replaces all the software that came pre-installed on your phone. ROMs may have a different look or extra features, or they may be optimized for performance.

cyanogenmod

Installing a custom ROM is a good idea if the stock software on your phone isn’t great. Many manufacturers pack their devices with extra apps and features that makes them bloated, buggy, and slow. Replacing it with a bloat-free ROM like CyanogenMod can give you an instant speed boost.

Flash a Custom Kernel

The kernel manages every interaction between your phone’s software and hardware. There are many good reasons to use custom kernel Why You Should Consider Using A Custom Android Kernel Why You Should Consider Using A Custom Android Kernel Do you want the best performance out of your Android device? Or maybe you want the best battery life? Consider a custom kernel. Read More , and the ability to speed up your phone is among the best. Custom kernels enable you to tweak how the hardware functions. You can change how quickly the processor ramps up to top speed, or how busy it needs to be before it activates extra cores.

Some even offer per-app settings so you can have the device running on maximum power when playing a particular game and dropping back to normal as soon as you exit it. Many custom kernels also allow you to overclock the CPU and make it run faster. However, this is a contentious topic, and many believe that any perceived benefits are purely placebo.

Control Background Apps With Greenify

Task killers don’t speed up your phone, as we’ll see shortly. The app Greenify sounds like a task killer — it prevents apps from running in the background — but there’s a subtle difference.

greenify

Greenify runs at the system level to not only close apps, but also prevent them from running at all until you need them. This means it also has the effect of stopping apps from auto-syncing, as well as preventing them from loading when you boot your phone. Greenify is primarily intended for battery saving How to Improve Battery Life on Android 6.0 Marshmallow How to Improve Battery Life on Android 6.0 Marshmallow Battery life is finicky, but with this trick, you can squeeze a lot more out of your Android 6.0 Marshmallow device. Read More , but it offers real performance boosts too.

What Doesn’t Work

As well as the tips that do work, there are a few accepted speed-boosting techniques that don’t. Be wary of any app that makes grand claims about how much they can speed up your phone.

Task Killers

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 Why RAM Boosters And Task Killers Are Bad For Your Android Why RAM Boosters And Task Killers Are Bad For Your Android At first glance, RAM boosters and task killers sound incredibly useful, but a closer look shows that they could actually be harming your phone instead. Read More . 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.

Closing Apps

For the same reason, there’s no need to be fastidious about manually closing apps. Again, Android manages this automatically.

android-ram

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 generalizations, 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.

Hitting the Limits

Of course, there’s only so far you can go to speed up your phone. You can keep it running fast and smooth for a while, but sooner or later you’ll hit the limits of the hardware. Then you reach the ultimate speed tip: upgrade to a new device.

In the meantime, give these tips a try and let us know how you get on. Join us in the comments to share your experiences, along with any ideas of your own.

Originally written by Chris Hoffman on July 27th, 2012.

  1. Andrea Pucci
    December 18, 2016 at 9:33 am

    Hi, I'm the dev of SSD Boost,
    a work in progress project which has the goal to speed performance and extend endurance of smartphone internal flash memory.
    Before installing read reviews, then try it and let me know.

  2. Eddie G.
    December 13, 2016 at 9:07 pm

    Because I have CyanogenMod on my OnePlus 2 phone. I don't suffer from speed issues. I also don't go installing every app under the sun. I have a few that I use....daily....but nothing that's "just there" to be there. I try to tell most of my family and friends who have Android phones to keep it as bare bones and minimal as possible, but the problem is lot of the major manufacturers always seem to throw in a lot of bloat-ware that the person buying the phone most likely won't ever use...this is why I went with a Chinese phone maker and with CyanogenMod. If I ever feel the need to change my OS on the phone I would go with Paranoid Android.....AOKP...or something else that's not mainstream.... I'm not thinking of upgrading or getting rid of this phone anytime soon....and the sped at which it runs now is incredible...and this is WITHOUT any kind of speed-booster or task killer. I guess to those people who need a million apps that all seem to basically d the same thing this article would come in handy, but for me....a minimalist?....I'm good with my current setup.

  3. MuoLover
    December 11, 2016 at 6:16 am

    I will surely makeuseof these tips! Thanks a lot!

  4. Coldkyle
    September 21, 2016 at 2:29 am

    I totally disagree. Since marshmallow, task killers don't work and my battery gets demolished way way way faster. Before marshmallow when ram was cleared regularly by a task killer my phone was way faster and the battery lasted a lot longer. This is on lg g4 and Samsung note 3. Now with the screen off and me sleeping the battery gets depleted overnight even with sync and everything like location off. Upon checking battery usage it always says android os and android system. Before marshmallow I would wake up in the morning with over 90 percent battery. Android does NOT do well with my ram full. Please let us use task killers again!!!

  5. Potatoman
    March 24, 2016 at 10:16 pm

    You don't actually need root access to change apps with startup permission

  6. Er AB
    September 4, 2015 at 6:38 pm

    How to make the smartphone work faster without the use of any app for this.
    Do check out my website on smartphones too... http://www.smartphoneandprice.com

  7. LRND
    May 10, 2015 at 8:11 am

    Well, It works, but not a lot. Thank you for the tips.

    from the Philippines

  8. Sofia
    April 13, 2015 at 8:57 am

    Is it possible to make the smartphone faster without installing an app?

  9. Sudeep Kumar G
    January 19, 2013 at 9:02 am

    Very useful tips of course ! Thank you.

  10. Ronamae Calingasan
    December 12, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    I think task killers are made to prolong battery life though it makes the phone lag. But I already deleted my Advance Task Killer and installed the Watchdog. Gonna watch out for the difference. :) Thanks a bunch here from the Philippines :D

  11. Ray
    December 7, 2012 at 10:57 pm

    Hi, I recently (foolishly) downloaded the app android defrag from CNet before I read some of these forums and got educated. Sometime afterwards, I lost my phone number - my phone was simply no longer registered with my provider. I contacted them - apparently they received a message from my phone asking to transfer the number to another SIM, which they apparently did. I now have my number back, minus my credit - fortunately it is prepay, so they only got the balance of that. I don't like to think what may have happened if the phone was on a plan. And I don't know what other data they may have mined from my phone, either!

    I am now checking my computer and phone for malware etc., but I am fairly certain that the android defrag app was responsible - I did nothing else that could have triggered something like that.

    Evereyone should be aware of the possibility that this app is an active malware.

  12. sachin goral
    November 8, 2012 at 5:38 am

    Had been using task killer since I got my phone. Thanks for the tips.

  13. Eric Thieszen
    October 26, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    I have been considering the Cyanogen mods for my Droid and S3

  14. Matt D
    October 26, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    Great article! My Droid 3 is dreadfully slow so I think it is time to Flash a Custom ROM upon it. How about deleting cache and wiping data from apps? Will this speed things up or will it just give you more space? And how about cleaning the Dalvik Cache, will this do anything for you?

    • Chris Hoffman
      October 27, 2012 at 10:40 pm

      You an always use the built-in recovery option to set your phone to a default state and see if that helps.

      Clearing app caches will give you more space, but I don't think it will speed anything up.

      I don't think clearing the Dalvik Cache will help, either. Android will just recreate it -- the data in the cache helps apps work faster.

  15. Kukuh Frehadtomo
    October 13, 2012 at 7:57 am

    wow, that is very help me to make my phone more faster

  16. A From
    October 1, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    Android file system fragmentation seems very real to me, having ~70 apps (including the ones I can't get rid of).

    I cannot update many of my apps, due to out of memory though having free space both in RAM and on the SD card.

    Phone updated to ICS recently, so I hoped that something might have been solved in the update, but I have basically the same problem.

    Sometimes, for certain apps be it small or large (not predictable), if the app is moved to the SD card, I might get the update to work if I move the app into phone memory. I might sometimes succeed in updating apps where update is 5MB, whereas small apps of 200kB do not work...

    But this "backup way" of moving the app into phone doing the update and back again to SD card does not always work.

    Currently available space for me is 2.17 GB (8 GB card) on the SD card, and 39 MB (of 380 MB)

    • Chris Hoffman
      October 21, 2012 at 8:02 pm

      This seems more like a low-memory issues than a file system fragmentation issue. You can try reverting your phone to its hardware default state and reinstalling all your apps, which would definitely fix file system fragmentation (works on Windows, too), but I don't think that's the issue.

  17. Curtis C.
    September 24, 2012 at 11:12 pm

    Task killers sometimes cause than help...

  18. Totoy Badiola
    September 10, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    Thanks for the heads up on task killers. I am using ICS.

  19. lanie a.aldeguer
    August 16, 2012 at 4:42 am

    it is nice and had a clear screen...

  20. Alex Livingstone
    August 3, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    LOL defragging an android is so unnecessary.

    • Chris Hoffman
      August 7, 2012 at 7:23 am

      It is a pretty hilarious image.

  21. Liz Ganser
    August 2, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    I think my battery is. drained by the operating system.. I followed your advice and deleted the task killer app and downloaded the watchdog, but don't have any misbehaving apps. I use to have juice defender but deleted it because it said my device was not rooted and would have to perform a dangerous install fingers crossed. I read your article 100 android apps and was surprised that JD was there. I reloaded it but got the same message. I have a screen shot if you are interested - - just don't know how to attach it here.
    Please reply my phone doesn't last 8 hours I may have to reload the task killer.

    • Chris Hoffman
      August 7, 2012 at 7:23 am

      I haven't tried JuiceDefender myself. You might try asking on MakeUseOf Answers, where you'll get a lot more responses: http://www.makeuseof.com/answers/

  22. Paulette
    August 2, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    I just received an android notebook. Glad I read this before applying anything more to what is already installed. Thanks

  23. Eduardo Carrillo
    August 2, 2012 at 5:30 am

    no more task killer

  24. Liam Ellery
    August 1, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    Getting rid of task killer now, i didnt think it was doing anything, this just concludes it

  25. John Loot
    August 1, 2012 at 6:28 am

    Definitely try these one's out...

  26. Igor Rizvi?
    July 31, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    My brother is running this androind,gonna send this him to read,great stuff

  27. Juan Paulo Ducut
    July 31, 2012 at 9:27 am

    task killers is a big nono. just look at your apps, look at the settings, and if there is an option that keeps it on running while on standby, disable it. else, dont use that app it it wasnt needed. you can also kill apps on application section of the settings app, then on running services, choose an app, kill it(with fire)

    • Chris Hoffman
      August 1, 2012 at 11:29 am

      Thanks, good tips -- that's exactly how to do it. I should've gone into identifying and killing misbehaving apps (with fire) a bit more.

    • Melvin Capco
      August 15, 2012 at 7:25 pm

      clap! clap! that's what i've done to my phone and it works. To add also disabled apps notification that you think you don't need to be notified :D

  28. Alexandra
    July 30, 2012 at 8:30 am

    Mobile apps are hot today. But hiring a programmer is too expensive. I used snappii.com to make apps. It's really easy, the web service allows to make mobile apps in minutes, and without programming skills at all. If you are short of time, they can make an app for you very quickly.

  29. deddy
    July 30, 2012 at 4:03 am

    how can I identify "missbehaving apps? I mean, except the high resource usage.

    • Chris Hoffman
      August 1, 2012 at 11:28 am

      Well, if you open the task manager and see apps using lots of CPU in the background, that's a problem. If they're using small amounts of CPU while downloading data, that's to be expected.

      In other words, if you're using an app and then leave it, it shouldn't be grinding away in the background. It should go to 0 CPU, assuming it's not downloading anything or performing other actions.

  30. Christopher Mortenson
    July 30, 2012 at 12:36 am

    Good article, nothing to toss out here other than what may be slightly off topic.

    Learning what/how to use the keys, buttons, combo keys and hotkeys/shortcuts would contribute to overall efficiency and possibly stress reducer.

  31. Steve Taylor
    July 28, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    Comprehensive review. Good ideas.

  32. Trevor Lenten
    July 28, 2012 at 11:10 am

    Just installed FF. Thanks for the tip.

    • Chris Hoffman
      August 1, 2012 at 11:27 am

      The old Firefox was pretty bad, but the new one is quite good!

      • Chefpatel
        September 21, 2012 at 8:54 pm

        What about Dolphin Browser? Any take on it?

        • Chris Hoffman
          September 29, 2012 at 11:57 am

          Haven't used it much myself but I've heard great things. I'd give it a thumbs up, based on what I've heard.

  33. Mike Green
    July 28, 2012 at 9:14 am

    The best thing I have found is using custom ROMS such as cyanogenmod

    • Chris Hoffman
      August 1, 2012 at 11:26 am

      Especially if you're using an older device that never got updates or one that's packed with bloatware, sure!

  34. Glenn Bond
    July 28, 2012 at 2:53 am

    Flashed a Viewsonic G -Tablet several times as updates were available. Now running Honeycomb and it works well. It actually increased the speed of the unit. Just follow directions on the flashing and all will go well.

    • Chris Hoffman
      August 1, 2012 at 11:26 am

      Definitely, upgrading the OS will help a lot -- Android 4.1 on my Nexus 7 is pretty amazing.

  35. Achraf Almouloudi
    July 28, 2012 at 2:30 am

    I believe apps running in the background consume more power as it takes electricity to store on RAM cells and they periodically use CPU on 5 to 10 % which further consume power, am I wrong ?

    • Chris Hoffman
      August 1, 2012 at 11:26 am

      If they're using CPU, this will definitely use battery power. However, they're not supposed to use CPU (unless they're downloading stuff or performing other actions). If they're randomly using CPU in the background, they're misbehaving.

      I don't believe it takes more electricity to store stuff in RAM. In other words, if you have 2GB of RAM, it takes the same amount of electricity to store data in it than it does to store nothing -- for example, all 0's.

      What will take electricity is writing data to the RAM -- if an app is killed and then opened later, it will take electricity to place it in RAM. If it was left in RAM, that electricity wouldn't be used.

      • nick
        November 2, 2012 at 11:28 pm

        but, if it is a 0, that means there is no electricity running through the transistor. so it would make sense that ram not being actively used and refreshed would use less power

        • Chris Hoffman
          November 7, 2012 at 10:38 am

          This is getting really low-level for me, but I've never seen any indication that empty RAM uses less power. If it does use more power, it must be minuscule.

  36. tarzan2001
    July 28, 2012 at 1:04 am

    I've read that Task Killers actually do help if you're using a VERY old device or one of the low-end devices that you get on the cheap. I've personally tried some different task killers on a Kyocera Zio from Cricket Wireless and they actually make a difference, albeit a small one. By the way, don't hate me for messing around with a crappy Cricket phone--my brother-in-law bought it, not me! I still use my trusty (but ancient) Nokia 6630! ;)

    • Chris Hoffman
      August 1, 2012 at 11:23 am

      That's a good point. I've heard ancient Android OSes didn't do as good a job, so task killers were once helpful. Assuming you're using a reasonably modern Android (even Gingerbread), task killers won't help.

      • tarzan2001
        August 2, 2012 at 7:18 pm

        The Zio is running Android 2.2.1 Froyo. I've ready many comments by people saying that it's simply better and faster to just restart the phone and start "fresh." While that may be true for newer and more powerful phones, this Zio is soooo slow that it's actually faster to just use the Task Killer to free up the memory and restart the services than to actually wait 3-5 minutes before the phone becomes usable after a restart. I swear, it's just like using my old Pentium III Gateway pc and waiting 5 minutes for Windows to load back in the day, except now the computer is in the palm of my hand! :P

        • Chris Hoffman
          August 7, 2012 at 7:22 am

          Wow, that is extremely slow. My condolences!

  37. Flavius Graur
    July 27, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    No task killers, no live wallpapers, decent clock settings (as battery is concerned), also I try to keep the apps to a minimum. I usually take off apps I don't use regularly - less events the system has to keep track of.

    Also facebook. That app wakes the phone like Donkey from Shrek – every 5 minutes. Also, when managing my autostart list, disabling apps, I also disable all widgets (the Widget Updating event). The only widget I use is the analog clock.

    I also check for wakelocks regularly and fine tune when necessarily.
    That's my recipe for a fast android device.

    • Chris Hoffman
      August 1, 2012 at 11:23 am

      That's a good point. If apps are running in the background, removing them will help (although this may help more for battery life than performance).

      I've definitely heard bad things about Facebook for Android.

      Watching for wakelocks is getting geekier again, but it will help you squeeze more battery life out of your device.

      • Flavius Graur
        August 2, 2012 at 5:53 pm

        Less background processing time = more battery time = better performance when needed.

  38. Larry Johnson
    July 27, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    Yes I quit the task killer since it didn't appear to help.

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