What You Need To Know About Removing Android Bloatware

Android Logo   What You Need To Know About Removing Android BloatwareMany Android phones come packed with useless software preinstalled by the device’s manufacturer and your cellular carrier. Sprint even includes a NASCAR app with some of their phones. This bloatware takes up valuable storage space, clutters your list of installed apps, and may even run automatically at startup, draining battery power in the background.

Unlike on a Windows laptop, which also come packed with useless software, it takes a bit of work to actually uninstall these apps on Android. Android 4.0 and newer versions of Android allow you to get rick of bloatware fairly easily, but there’s a catch.

Disabling Bloatware on Android 4.0+

To disable preinstalled bloatware on a device running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich or newer, open the Settings screen, tap Apps, and swipe over to the All category.

android view system apps   What You Need To Know About Removing Android Bloatware

Scroll down until you find a preinstalled app you want to disable and tap it. If the app has an icon in your app drawer, you can also press and hold on the app’s icon and drag it to the App Info option at the top of your screen to access its details screen.

android built in app info   What You Need To Know About Removing Android Bloatware

Tap the Disable button to disable a preinstalled app. You’ll see a warning, so ensure you aren’t disabling anything important. Many built-in Android system apps cannot be disabled, but some important apps can be disabled. Use your best judgment – for example, disabling a NASCAR app is fine, but disabling the Messaging app will prevent you from sending and receiving SMS messages unless you have a third-party SMS app installed on your phone.

android disable app warning   What You Need To Know About Removing Android Bloatware

You can find disabled apps at the bottom of the All apps list. Tap a disabled app and tap the Enable button to re-enable it.

android view disabled apps   What You Need To Know About Removing Android Bloatware

Disabled Bloatware Still Wastes Storage Space

The above process only disables the useless software. It won’t appear in your app drawer and can’t run in the background, so this helps declutter your phone and save battery power. However, the bloatware apps remain installed in the system partition. Apps installed in this special partition are locked in read-only mode so they’ll persist after you factory reset your phone. This ensures useful apps – like Gmail, Google Play, or the Android system apps – remain installed even after a factory reset. However, bloatware abuses this mechanism, wasting your phone’s valuable storage space.

Actually Removing Bloatware

Most people will be okay with disabling the bloatware and forgetting about the wasted space. But let’s say you actually want to remove this bloatware and free up that space. There are several ways to do this, all of which will technically void your phone’s warranty – so exercise caution.

  • Flash a Custom ROM: Replacing the stock ROM with a custom ROM like Cyanogenmod will overwrite the operating system that came with the device, replacing it with the custom ROM. This will free up the space currently being used for bloatware. Quite a few Android geeks buy popular phones like the Samsung Galaxy S and HTC Oneline before installing Cyanogenmod on them.
  • Root and Use an App: If you root your phone, you can then use an app to forcibly delete the bloatware apps from your system area. This could cause problems, especially if you delete important apps. For example, the popular Titanium Backup app includes this function – tap the app and select Uninstall instead of Freeze — but recommends against using it.
  • Use a Script Without Rooting: There’s a clever bloatware removal script on the XDA Developers forum that can delete system apps without any rooting required. However, you’ll need to edit the script by hand and know what you’re doing. Misusing the script could prevent your phone from booting until you re-flash its operating system. Android geeks may find this is the fastest way to remove bloatware on multiple devices as the script can be re-used on other devices and runs in just a few seconds, but average users should stay away from it.

cyanogenmod bootup   What You Need To Know About Removing Android Bloatware

Disabling Bloatware on Older Versions of Android

On an older version of Android, you can’t easily disable the bloatware with the included interface. However, you can root your Android phone and use an app like Titanium Backup (paid) or Gemini App Manager (free) to disable the app in the same way it would be disabled on Android 4.0. This is often referred to as “freezing” an app, as it blocks all access to it.

If you don’t want to root and just wish the bloatware wouldn’t clutter your app drawer, you could also try using a third-party launcher. Many of these launchers, such as Nova Launcher, have a built-in feature that allows you to hide app icons from your app drawer. If these apps are still running in the background, they’ll continue to waste some battery power – but at least you’ll reduce the clutter.

nova launcher hide apps   What You Need To Know About Removing Android Bloatware

Buying Phones Without Bloatware

Not all Android devices are saddled with bloatware. Nexus devices sold straight from Google, such as the Nexus 4, come without any bloatware and feature Google’s vision of a pure Android software experience.

We wish we didn’t have to recommend a single device or single line of devices here, as diversity and choice is the strength of Android. However, other Android device manufacturers aren’t providing Android phones with clean, uncluttered operating systems. You can get that uncluttered experience by installing a third-party ROM like Cyanogenmod on a phone, but average users shouldn’t be required to do this. For an out-of-the-box Android experience, go Nexus and send a message to Android manufacturers and carriers.

nexus 4 review 2   What You Need To Know About Removing Android Bloatware

What’s the worst bloatware you’ve ever seen on an Android phone? Leave a comment and share your horror stories or tips for overcoming bloatware!

Image Credit: Johan Larsson on Flickr

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18 Comments -

0 votes

Kirby

I bought an ASUS Memo Pad last week and there are indeed pre installed apps there. My dilemma is that I don’t know which of this are system recommended apps and which are the bloatware.

2 votes

Chris Marcoe

So…here I go. Jumping into the Custom ROM pool. Wish me luck!!!

0 votes

Kannon Yamada

Good luck Chris!

I would at this point suggest three key things – first, avoid rooting phones that have overly complex instructions. For example, Sony phones are notoriously hard to root. However, if you have a Nexus, it’s remarkably easy.

Second, you must install a custom recovery. Without the recovery, you will not be able to recover the phone in the event of a disaster.

Third, once you have the recovery, make a complete Nandroid backup (which is a copy of your entire operating system) and find a way to backup the backup. I always save my backups to Dropbox.

1 votes

Nevzat A

The biggest bloatware is Samsung’s Touchwiz, and many Samsung apps that are the duplicates of the Google services and apps. Samsung even made their own sync ecosystem, where it syncs contacts, settings, photos to it’s cloud. I’ve disabled many of the services in settings and used Nova Launcher instead of TouchWiz, now I have hundredths of megabytes more free RAM.

0 votes

gresham

What has made Samsung top the android platform is touch wiz which is a step ahead of pure or stock android. Touch wiz is refined android and the results are there for all to see as Samsung now is head above even stock android. So let’s not view touchwiz as bloatware but the best android featured os.

0 votes

Nevzat A

Maybe I was a little harsh to TouchWiz but it’s a matter of choice. TW brings so many things but also needs more system resources which is crucial for the smooth operation of a limited-hw Android phone. I like it’s innovative features, but my phone’s RAM becomes less usable by other applications and battery lasts shorter.

0 votes

Giovanni

There are a lot of other factors as to why Samsung tops the android based phones.

And TouchWiz has some of the biggest bloatware possible. I’m not saying TW’s bad, and for the casual facebook addicted dude or dudette TouchWiz can be handy and nice looking.

But there are a trainload of features not neccessary and eating up resources. For example, why does Samsung need a second Play Store? It’s basically the same thing but with samsung apps. And it’s forced to run and update sometimes.

No doubt Samsung gets my respect for their great phones and accomplishments, but TouchWiz is nothing better than other bloatware loaded operating systems.

0 votes

Bob Henson

The suggested method of disabling doesn’t work on my HTC Incredible S running ICS 4.0.4. There is no disable option, in the same position on the screen as shown in your shots is only an option to remove previous updates. I wholeheartedly concur that an international campaign to buy only those phones that have “pure” Android would help a lot. It won’t happen, but it’s a nice thought.

0 votes

Diana

I’ve found a way to disable on mine that might work for yours, even though I have a Samsung. When you’re in the application manager under “all”, choose the app you want to disable, deselect “show notifications”, then uninstall updates. For mine, that reset the applications to factory version. When it was done, I had to click on the the application again but then the disable button showed up and I was able to disable from that point. It’s a lot slower process but it does work. I don’t know yet if they stay disabled. I suspect if you have to reboot your phone, they’ll all re-enable themselves but hopefully if you don’t update these apps, you’ll be able to keep them set at factory version and be able to disable them again.

0 votes

Tug R

This is exactly why my next phone will be of the Nexus variety. I get that bloatware partially subsidizes the phone, but it’s still aggravating as a consumer.

0 votes

A.D.

I think it’s called crapware; bloatware is a different thing.

0 votes

Lawrie Cherniack

I wish I knew how to deal with bloatware. I have a Google Nexus S with Android 4.1.2. When Google divided Google Play into Google Play, Google Magazine, Google Music, Google Books, and prevented any of these from going to the SD card, my phone memory has filled up tremendously. I couldn’t uninstall Magazine, Music, and Books, but I did undo all the updates, and that released some memory. I now have only 17% memory left, and am still experiencing some problems with the actual phone. I had to change the setting for “automatic update” as well. I am afraid to take risks with rooting the phone or doing anything “geeky”, since I don’t have the knowledge. But the situation is very annoying — to the point that I am thinking of cashing in my remaining 15 months of contract to get a phone with more memory.

0 votes

Kannon Yamada

Lawrie, good choice in phones, by the way.

Also, did you know that it’s cheaper to stay off contract? If your Nexus S comes from AT&T or T-Mobile, you can just buy a MVNO SIM card and swap out your old SIM. It’s really, really easy to do. Here’s what an MVNO is.

If you want to upgrade your phone, it’s substantially cheaper to buy your own unlocked. And (if you have AT&T or T-Mo) then just do a SIM card swap. It doesn’t take any technical knowledge, either.

Most people save about $400-500 a year. However, if you barely use your phone, you can save as much as $1,000 or more per year by switching to what’s called a Pay-Go plan. I get into what plan works best for you here.

However, all users can save tons of money by switching over to a carrier like StraightTalk, which offers $45 per month plans, without a contract.

0 votes

Chinmay S

Samsung Galaxy S4 has the most bloatware. I recently bought 16GB model but i was shocked when i saw 8GB was already occupied by pre-installed apps.

0 votes

Alexmrb

Microsoft does the same thing with their surface tablets, except that the OS alone takes up half of the storage space.

0 votes

Teresa J

I have an LG Motion 4G through MetroPCS. There are a few things I was able to fully uninstall by myself that came on the phone, like live wallpapers, for instance. However, there are a lot of other things that I don’t ever use and take up lots of space such as Google Play Magazines. I am never going to use this feature, nor the Google Play movies & TV app. How do I remove these? All I can every figure out to do is clear the cache or uninstall the updates, but then it’ll automatically reinstall the updates on its own later, so that just wastes my time. What can i do? I Do not know what it means to root a phone. Please help. Thank you.

0 votes

Alexmrb

I bought an LG e720 (actually, it was handed down to me after 3 years of usage,) and the bloatware from LG and Bell Mobility combined left about 20 MEGABYTES of internal storage space left on the device out of around 200MB. Luckily, it was running Android 2.2 (Froyo,) so I fired up Z4Root, booted the device into temporary root mode, installed Link2SD and uninstalled the behemoth of useless crap which LG and Bell included.

(PS-Bell mobility is a Canadian cell carrier, FYI)

0 votes

john

I have the new Maximus HD 12.0.1 custom rom flashed on my HTC One. I also installed GO SMS App for my text messages. Unfortunately when a text comes in it comes in on both apps. Is it possible to delete the app that came with the rom without affecting anything else . ??