7 Reasons Your Smartphone Has Slow Internet Speeds
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Smartphones are now well established as the main way most of us connect to the internet. It’s a trend that looks irreversible. And it means getting the fastest possible internet speeds on your mobile devices is more important than ever.

But sometimes this doesn’t happen. There might be problems with the way you’ve set up your home router, or with the quirks of public Wi-Fi, or even issues with your carrier.

Let’s take a look at the main reasons why you have slow internet on your phone, and how you can fix them.

1. Poor Router Position

One of the most common reasons for slow internet speeds is that the router has been positioned in the wrong place 8 Tips to Effectively Boost Your Wireless Router Signal 8 Tips to Effectively Boost Your Wireless Router Signal If your wireless router's signal doesn't seem to reach very far, or if your signal keeps dropping for some weird reason, here are a few things you can do that might fix it. Read More . A Wi-Fi signal has a range of up to 230 feet, and the further it travels the slower it gets. It can be blocked by large physical objects, like walls, floors, and doors.

So, if you’re a distance from the router — like in the furthest bedroom in your house, or even outside — and there are obstacles between it and you, the speeds you get may be a lot slower than you’d expect.

There’s a quick way to test. The Wi-Fi icon on your phone’s status bar gives you a rough indication of the signal strength.

why slow internet speeds on smartphone

  • When the icon is full, you’ve got a strong signal. This suggests your slow internet has a different cause.
  • When it’s empty your signal is weak, and other Wi-Fi devices like your laptop should also be affected. Move closer to your router and your signal strength — and internet speed — should improve.

A weak signal that does improve shows that your router’s position is the problem. You can try to solve this by finding the best place to put your router Wireless Feng Shui: How to Optimize Your House For Best Wi-Fi Reception Wireless Feng Shui: How to Optimize Your House For Best Wi-Fi Reception Setting up a Wi-Fi network should be an easy prospect, shouldn't it? I mean, a house is a closed-in box, and you'd think when you place a device that transmits wireless signals in all directions... Read More .

If your connection strength doesn’t improve even when you get closer to the router, you may have other problems you need to fix.

2. Congested Wi-Fi

Congestion can be a problem with Wi-Fi. Routers broadcast their signal on a specified channel. But if your neighbors all have routers set to work on the same channel How to Pick the Best Wi-Fi Channel for Your Router How to Pick the Best Wi-Fi Channel for Your Router What's the best Wi-Fi channel for your router and how do you change it? We answer these questions and more in this quick guide. Read More it can become congested, and degrade the performance for everyone.

This can be a problem especially in apartment blocks, where you have a lot of routers crammed into a relatively small area.

why slow internet speeds on smartphone

To fix this, you need to use software that can scan all the nearby Wi-Fi networks and find which channel they’re using. This will tell you whether you need to change the settings of your router and help you find the least congested channel to switch to.

You can do this directly on an Android phone, using the Wi-Fi Analyzer app Improve Your Wi-Fi Signal at Home & Outside with These Android Apps Improve Your Wi-Fi Signal at Home & Outside with These Android Apps Looking to improve the Wi-Fi signal in your home or find a Wi-Fi connection when you're out? This article has you covered. Read More . If you’re on iPhone, you need to do it via a laptop instead. Check out our recommendations for Wi-Fi scanning apps for Mac Two Awesome Free WiFi Scanners For The Mac Two Awesome Free WiFi Scanners For The Mac Read More and for Windows How to Fix a Slow or Unstable Wi-Fi Connection How to Fix a Slow or Unstable Wi-Fi Connection One simple trick could speed up your Wi-Fi connection. We explain the issue, how to analyze Wi-Fi networks around you, and how to use the information to speed up your Wi-Fi connection. Read More .

3. Wi-Fi Noise

Wi-Fi is also susceptible to noise from other appliances in your home. Things like microwaves, wireless doorbells, and cordless phones can interfere with the signal from a router running on the 2.4GHz band How Dual-Band Routers Can Solve Your Wireless Woes How Dual-Band Routers Can Solve Your Wireless Woes Using a router that supports the dual-band standard can significantly boost your Wi-Fi speeds in many circumstances. Read More .

This is the next thing to check when you’ve ruled out the router’s position and channel as the cause of your slow internet.

Most modern routers can work on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. The latter is a lot less prone to interference. If you’ve got a reasonably recent router that supports this, you can delve into the router’s settings 10 Things You Must Do With a Brand New Router 10 Things You Must Do With a Brand New Router Whether you just bought your first ever router or upgraded your old one to a new one, there are several crucial first steps that you should take right away to set up properly. Read More to make the change.

Before you do it, though, you need to make sure all your connected devices support 5GHz, or they’ll no longer be able to connect. Unless you’ve got a dual or tri-band router, it won’t be able to switch between the two. You have to choose either one or the other.

If you’re sticking with 2.4GHz, make sure you don’t have any other devices near your router that could cause interference. And prepare for possible disruption if you’re streaming Netflix while standing in the kitchen making microwave popcorn.

4. You’re Connected to a Slow Network

One of the most obvious reasons why you’re getting slow internet speeds on your phone is that you’re connected to a slow network.

At home, the reason why your internet is working slower than you’d expect is most likely to be that other apps and devices are hogging your bandwidth. Streaming movies, downloading video games, or installing operating system updates How to Limit the Bandwidth Allowed for Updates in Windows 10 How to Limit the Bandwidth Allowed for Updates in Windows 10 When it comes to how much bandwidth Windows uses for background updates, Microsoft actually gives you complete control. Read More will all cause a slowdown in your general internet use. And some of these things can happen in the background without you even knowing.

On public Wi-Fi, the speeds you’ll get can vary wildly, and you shouldn’t rely on getting a superfast service from something you aren’t paying for. However, even after checking your expectations, you might still end up getting a lot worse performance that you could.

why slow internet speeds on smartphone

There are so many public Wi-Fi hotspots, and your phone is liable to latch onto one of them at random. It’ll even stay connected after you’ve moved into range of a closer or better one. It means that while your favorite coffee shop might have fantastic Wi-Fi, there’s no guarantee you’ll actually connect to it every time.

A good way to try and work around this is to set the Wi-Fi network priority How to Set Wi-Fi Network Priority on Android and iPhone How to Set Wi-Fi Network Priority on Android and iPhone Tired of your phone connecting to the wrong Wi-Fi network? By setting your Wi-Fi network priority, you can ensure that you always have a strong connection. Read More on Android or iPhone. This forces your device to always connect to one of your chosen networks whenever you’re in range, and only use other free hotspots as a last resort.

The other thing to consider is that a 4G connection will very often be faster and more reliable than public Wi-Fi. If your free service becomes intolerable, then turn Wi-Fi off on your phone and use mobile data instead. Just keep an eye on your data usage while you do so.

5. You’re Using a Slow VPN

If you use public Wi-Fi a lot, we highly recommend that you use a VPN 7 Secure Strategies to Use Public Wi-Fi Safely on Phones 7 Secure Strategies to Use Public Wi-Fi Safely on Phones Is that public Wi-Fi network you just connected to safe? Before you sip your latte, and read Facebook, consider these simple secure strategies to using public Wi-Fi safely on your phone. Read More . It encrypts the connection between your phone and Wi-Fi hotspot, preventing anyone else on the network snooping on your data.

But did you know that your choice of VPN can have a significant effect on your internet speed?

Free VPN apps are notorious for offering terrible performance, along with a host of other questionable downsides 5 Reasons Why Free VPNs Just Don't Cut It 5 Reasons Why Free VPNs Just Don't Cut It VPNs are all the rage, but if you're thinking of going the free route, please reconsider. Free VPN services come with risks that may not be worth taking... Read More . If you’re already using a VPN and are getting slow internet speeds, try disabling it temporarily to see if that improves things.

why slow internet speeds on smartphone

Most of the best premium VPN providers The Best VPN Services The Best VPN Services We've compiled a list of what we consider to be the best Virtual Private Network (VPN) service providers, grouped by premium, free, and torrent-friendly. Read More have apps for iPhone and Android. Once you’ve signed up, you can make use of them on your phone as well as your desktop. These services should guarantee you much better speeds than you would get from a free alternative, along with enhanced security and privacy benefits.

6. Poor 4G Coverage

What about slow internet when using mobile data rather than Wi-Fi? Most of us switch to Wi-Fi whenever we can. It’s cheaper and less heavy on a phone’s battery.

When you do switch to mobile data, you’d expect a 4G connection to be as fast — if not faster — than Wi-Fi. But this isn’t always true What Is 4G, And Is Your Mobile Really Getting 4G Speeds? [MakeUseOf Explains] What Is 4G, And Is Your Mobile Really Getting 4G Speeds? [MakeUseOf Explains] This ads will tell you that 4G is awesome. Fast as lightening, or a motorbike, or a race car. But what does that mean in the real world? Is a 4G phone really going to... Read More .

There are so many things that can affect your phone signal. You’ll see it often in crowded places, like at a sporting event or concert, where tens of thousands of people are trying to connect to the same cell tower at the same time.

And there are other things, too. Your distance from the nearest tower. Whether you’re indoors or outdoors. Even the weather can have an effect. Some of these things can cause you to fall back to a slower 3G connection, and some might leave you with no internet connection at all.

why slow internet speeds on smartphone

In addition, some smaller carriers, like some of the virtual mobile networks in the UK, might have much more limited bandwidth. You might never get up to top speed on those.

Speak to your carrier if you have ongoing problems. If there’s no solution, it may be time to change.

7. Your Phone Is Slow

Finally, slow internet might just be a sign of a slow phone Why Is My Android Phone Slow Even With Good Specs? Why Is My Android Phone Slow Even With Good Specs? Specs aren't the only thing that matters in an Android phone. Here's why your phone may be slowing down despite it's good specs. Read More . Your Wi-Fi connection may be great, your mobile data coverage perfect, and you’re on a fast network. But maybe your phone just can’t keep up with what you’re asking it to do.

The resource requirements of apps and websites creep up all the time. So even when your actual internet speed is good, you might still perceive it to be slow. The phone’s hardware might be taking its time rendering a web page, for example, or be struggling to handle the graphics in an online game.

You can see this on older phones especially, since they all tend to slow down over time 5 Reasons Your Phone Slows Down Over Time 5 Reasons Your Phone Slows Down Over Time Is your smartphone suddenly slow? We've got good news: you're not going crazy. That loss of device power hits both Android and iOS users. Devices do slow down over time. Here's why. Read More . Lower-end Android phones, with slower processors and less RAM, might also be affected.

And even if you’ve got an up to date, high-end device your choice of apps can still have an impact. Too many apps downloading and syncing in the background can hog too much of your available bandwidth.

why slow internet speeds on smartphone

Older or poorly written apps can just slow your phone down generally. Make sure to keep your apps up to date, uninstall those that you don’t use, and keep an eye on which are allowed to run in the background.

Speed It Up

Internet performance can be unpredictable at the best of times. By getting to grips with some of the main causes of problems you’ll be well equipped to make sure your phone is always running at full speed.

Have you experienced slow internet speeds on your phone? What did you do to solve it? Share your tips and questions in the comments below.

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  1. Mohasin.K.R
    February 11, 2018 at 9:05 am

    Wow...what a great post have you written!!! Couldn't find a more brief and effective guide on internet :) The points were brief and easy to understand.

    • sunil Bhujbal
      August 15, 2018 at 10:09 am

      please network speed