We all wish our phones were just a little faster. Whether you’re chugging along with a device from three years ago or rocking one of the best new Android phones, it’s the same—more speed is always better.
There’s no shortage of ideas on how you can speed up Android device. Unfortunately, not all of them work.
The good news is, we’ve tested them all for you. Read on to find out how to make your phone faster—and what you should avoid doing.
How to Speed Up Android: Basic Tips
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 speed up your phone’s performance.
1. 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.
2. Use a Different Launcher
The default 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.
You’ll find 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.
3. Change Browsers
The default web browser on Android is Chrome, and it’s a pretty resource-heavy app. There are a few ways you can improve it, but a better solution is switching to an entirely different browser.
Some benchmark tests have shown Puffin as the fastest Android browser. 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.
4. Uninstall Bad Apps
Bad apps are often to blame for slowing down your phone. It’s not always obscure apps, either—some of the biggest names are common 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. There are also lightweight versions of the main Google apps that use less memory and run faster.
5. Remove Antivirus Software
Antivirus software claims to offer peace of mind to Android users, but it’s unnecessary. It slows down your phone and drains your battery. As long as you only install apps from official sources like the Play Store or Amazon Appstore, you’re extremely unlikely to encounter malware.
6. Stop Apps Auto-Syncing
Social, news, weather, and many other classes of apps are set to automatically sync. By default, they go online as often as every 15 minutes. With too many of these apps installed, your phone will soon creak under their weight.
Check the sync schedules for all your apps and set a longer schedule of every few hours or once a day. Or just turn off syncing and update them manually instead.
7. Check for and Install Updates
Each new version of Android offers performance improvements over the last, so if your phone has updates available then you should always install them. Of course, not all manufacturers update their phones, so this is something to consider next time you’re upgrading.
The same goes for apps. Turn on automatic updates in the Play Store to ensure that you receive the latest updates as soon as an app’s resource-hogging, battery-draining bugs get fixed. Go to Settings > Auto-update apps to set it up.
8. Reboot Regularly
Finally, the best way to tune up Android is to reboot it regularly. This helps to keep the OS 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 these tips and find that nothing works, a factory reset may be in order—just make sure you back up your Android data first!
How to Speed Up Android: Advanced Tips
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.
9. 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, this improves the speed (or at least the perceived speed) of your phone.
Go to Settings > Developer options (Settings > System > Developer options on Android Oreo and later) 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, but this looks jarring).
If you can’t see Developer options, you’ll need to enable it first. Go to Settings > About phone (Settings > System > About phone on Android Oreo and newer) and tap Build number seven times to make the option appear.
10. Try a Different ROM
A custom ROM contains a complete build of the Android operating system, and replaces all the software that came pre-installed on your phone. ROMs may have a different look or extra features, or can be optimized for performance.
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 make them bloated, buggy, and slow. Replacing it with a bloat-free ROM like LineageOS can give you an instant speed boost.
11. Flash a Custom Kernel
The kernel manages every interaction between your phone’s software and hardware. 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 drop back to normal as soon as you exit it.
12. 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 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.
It’s less useful on Android Oreo and later, due to improvements in how those operating systems manage resources. But on older devices, Greenfiy is one of the best reasons to root.
How to Speed Up Android: What Doesn’t Work
As well as the tips that do work, there are a few common speed-boosting techniques that don’t. Be wary of any app that makes grand claims about how much it can speed up your phone.
1. 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.
A task killer closes background apps to free up RAM. It works on the idea that free RAM improves performance, but this isn’t true. Android is designed to keep apps in RAM so it can restore them quickly—it will intelligently close apps whenever it needs to free up extra resources.
More importantly, certain app processes will start up again as soon as they are killed because they need to run in the background. This constant stopping and starting will slow your phone down far more than if you just let Android do its job.
2. Closing Apps
For the same reason, there’s no need to worry about manually closing apps. Again, Android manages this automatically. If Android needs to free up resources, it will close whichever apps you haven’t used in a while.
If not, leave them alone. Keeping them in memory will have little to no effect on either performance or battery life. Better yet, it helps make your apps load faster next time you need them.
3. Using Speed Boosters or Defragmenters
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 anything else along those lines that you can find on the Play Store.
They rarely work, are often packed with highly intrusive ads, and can actually slow your phone down.
Also, do not use defragmenter apps for Android. Your phone doesn’t need defragmenting—it uses flash memory and is not affected by fragmentation. All the phone defraggers on Google Play will not make your phone run faster. At best, they’ll have no effect; at worst, they may be scam apps.
The Ultimate Way to Speed Up Android
Of course, there’s only so far you can go to speed up your phone. You can keep it clean and running smoothly 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.
For more, check out iPhone-exclusive features you can get on Android.