11 tricks to make your Android run faster

August 6, 2014

It’s frustrating to drop several hundred dollars on a high-end smartphone only to find that the smooth and speedy performance you expected remains elusive. Mid-rangers and the budget end of the market are even more prone to stuttering and lag. There are various ways to speed up that Android performance, and a few things you can do to make it feel faster.

Make sure you’re up to date

android system update

The latest software will often contain bug fixes and general improvements and it can help your Android device to run better. Software updates tend to come OTA (Over The Air) and you should be automatically prompted to install them, but it doesn’t hurt to check. Go to Settings > About device > Software update and check for updates.

The same logic applies to apps, so fire up the Play Store, open the menu at the top left and tap My apps and make sure all of the apps you use are up to date.

Clean up your home screen

All UIs Android 4.4 Nexus Stock Android Touchwiz LG UI

If you choose to use live wallpaper then consider replacing it with a good static image. You should also clean away any unused icons and limit your widgets to the essentials. The less cluttered your home screen is, the better in terms of performance.

Uninstall and disable unused apps

galaxy-s4-how-to-uninstall-apps-aa-0015

You don’t want to allow apps that you never use to take up space on your device and potentially eat into system resources. Go to Settings > Apps and swipe over to the All tab. Take a good long look down the list and identify the apps you don’t want or need. If you’re in doubt about what any of them do then it’s time to hit Google and check.

Tap on any app you don’t want and then choose Uninstall or, if the option is not there to uninstall, tap Disable. Disabled apps will be listed in a new tab, so you can always enable them again in future if you change your mind.

You should also take a look in Settings > Apps at the Running tab. Some apps want to be running all the time and they can seriously impact on performance. Think carefully about whether you need what’s listed there.

Turn off or reduce animations

LG G Flex vs Samsung Galaxy Round Quick Look Hands on AA (10 of 11)

You can make your Android device feel snappier by reducing or turning off some of animations. You’ll need to enable Developer options in order to do this. Go to Settings > About phone and scroll down to the System section to look for Build number. Tap on it seven times and you should see a message about being a developer. You can now go back to the previous menu and you should see Developer options listed under System. Head in there and scroll down to find Window animation scale, Transition animation scale, and Animator duration scale. Tap each in turn and set it to .5x or off. Pick an option and find out what suits you, if you don’t like just go back in and change the values again.

Clear cached app data

Best-Android-Browser-Fastest-Nexus-6

Cached data for apps should help them to load more quickly, but it can build up over time to take up quite a lot of space and there will potentially be cached data in there for apps that you no longer use. Sometimes clearing cached data for an app can also help clear up flaky behavior.

If you want to pick individual apps then head into Settings > Apps and slide over the All tab and tap on the relevant app then choose Clear cache. If you’ve decided to just clear the whole lot then go to Settings > Storage and tap on Cached data and then tap OK. Also, check out CCleaner, it cleans out your app cache and helps perform this kind of maintenance.

Turn off or reduce auto-sync

dropdown close up android 2014

Most of us end up adding a list of different accounts to our Android devices and we allow them to automatically sync in the background to pull in new data and provide us with updates. All this syncing has a big impact on performance, not to mention battery life.

You could go to Settings and find Auto-sync under Accounts and just turn it off altogether, but that will be too drastic for most people. Instead why not just reduce the sync frequency and remove any accounts you don’t really need? For a lot of apps, like Facebook, you’ll need to open up the app and find the settings to reduce the sync frequency.

Wipe cache partition

The cache partition is separate from your app data cache and it contains temporary files. It’s worth cleaning this out every once in a while. You’ll have to boot into recovery mode to do it. The method of entering recovery mode varies depending on your device, but you’ll find it easily with a quick Google search. Once in recovery mode you use the volume keys to navigate and the power key to select an item. You’ll want to choose wipe cache partition.

Try a third-party launcher

Nova-Launcher-Update-July-2014

Some of the customizations that OEMs make to their devices can be heavy-handed. If you want to change the feel of navigating around, and tweak some settings to make it feel speedier, then you might find that a third-party launcher does the trick. Try out something like Nova Launcher, Go Launcher EX, or Apex Launcher. Experiment with the settings and you should find that your device feels a lot faster.

Perform a factory reset

Android L dialer dropdown notification location settings

This is a drastic step, but some people recommend that you do a factory reset periodically if you want your device running in tip-top condition. It’s a shortcut to cleaning up your device and getting rid of any junk you’ve accumulated, but it means wiping all of the data and settings. If you decide to try it then make sure you back up everything that’s important to you first. You can find the option to do it in Settings > Backup & reset > Factory data reset.

Overclock your device

LG G2 Benchmarks

One of the reasons you’ll see differences in performance between Android devices with essentially the same processors, is that some OEMs limit speed in order to reduce heat and extend battery life. If you’re willing to root your Android device then you can overclock it using an app like SetCPU or Android Overclock. It’s wise to proceed with caution if you do decide to do this.

Install a custom ROM

Rooting your Android device doesn’t automatically offer any performance improvements, but a custom ROM can. For some devices that are no longer being updated custom ROMs are a way of getting a newer version of Android. You can also find custom ROMs that dispense with bloatware entirely and offer some interesting tweaks and modifications. You’ll need to do some research to find the right custom ROM for you.

We’ve reached the end of our tricks to make your Android run faster, but we’d love to hear your suggestions.

Comments

  • Damon Salvador

    Did AA mentioned abut Go Launcher !! Lol .Even Touch_Wiz is faster than this . :P

    • dodz

      yeah, go launcher went to sh*t, too much bloatware, i remember go launcher in early 2012 where it was fast, now its like installing more sh*t on your sh*t filled touchwiz samsung phone.

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    • not a chance

      drop Android and use iOS, you’ll go much faster :P

      • Rohan J Singh

        stock kitkat is faster than ios, i have both devices so i can see the difference .. also have you tried android L preview ? its going to take a huge leap ahead of ios in terms of smoothness

      • Jayfeather787

        Not at all. Completely the other way around. Have you seen ios on an iphone 4? It runs like shit. Kitkat runs like a boss on a phone with the same specs.

      • Damon Salvador

        OK .. get lost frm AA blog . XD

    • Stanley08

      AGREED! Lol.

    • Will S.

      Its not fast, but if you want all the cool features from other launchers in one place, Go Launcher is great.

    • DivyanshuSharma

      Nova definitely works better than touchwiz

      • Damon Salvador

        absolutly .

    • Groud Frank

      You mean TW on low end phones. I’ve never seen my Note 3 lag(except when I put a launcher on it) and I’m willing to bet it will outperform any Nexus or GPe device to date. I can understand someone making fun of Touchwiz because of aesthetics but no for performance.

    • RH

      If it wasn’t for golauncher bugging you 1,205 times a day to check out their premium features and the overhead/bloat….it was a good launcher back in the day, but Nova has it beat by a long shot.

  • Anonymousfella

    1) Install Nova launcher
    2) Set animation speed to “faster than light”.
    3)Watch as the photos slide off the display and travel into a wormhole.
    4) Never again complain about lag or slow UI in Android.

    • Damon Salvador

      U Sir .

  • Yowan

    I’m surprised greenify wasn’t even mentioned.

  • lavezarez

    the very 1st thing: root your phone. then install cwm. clear dalvik and cache. then go ahead with detecting wakelocks, and uninstall those. then last, but not the least, xposed framework and greenify.

    • Ishmeet kalra

      Along with recieverstop and boot manager

  • Ethan Beck

    totally disagree with you about keeping everything up to date. You’re absolutely right that the latest software often includes big fixes and improvements… but it usually includes more and often bigger bugs and redesigns that reduce functionality or break things (especially Google apps).
    It’s a complete fallacy created by Microsoft that the latest version of everything is always the best, and only an idiot would blithely and blindly download the latest version of everything all the time.
    It is far more sensible to keep an eye out for updates and read reviews of latest versions to get an idea whether or not the update is stable or problematic or removes functionality.
    System firmware updates are another matter but even then some of them break stuff. Furthermore, a phone that was designed for one version of android is not necessarily going to run better on a version of android produced two years later and shoe-horned onto it.
    One thing is certain is that it’s pretty reckless to get every latest update the instant it becomes available, a leap without looking.

    • Android Developer

      1. if people wouldn’t update, there won’t be any reviews about the updated version, so you won’t be able to read them and decide if you wish to update or not.
      2. each version has its own issues. old version, like new version, can have its own issues and might have more than the new version. It all depends on what was done to the app.
      3. No matter how much the company tests a version, it can sometimes be nothing compared to the magnitude of having so many people updating the version . Usually, there are more users than company workers…
      4. It’s up to the company to decide if it’s time to publish the new version. Google allows to publish it to a fraction of the users, if needed, so that the damage could be minimal.
      5. There are services out there that allow you to go back to previous versions of apps, if you wish.
      6. Only thing I don’t like about new versions is that many companies add new permissions without any explanations. That’s why I suggested to force them to explain the reason for each permission:
      https://code.google.com/p/android-developer-preview/issues/detail?id=466

      • Ethan Beck

        essentially I agree, and I came from a development background too, however I think your first point is moot as loads of people don’t know how to disable auto-updates, but also, there are plenty of people who like to live on the ‘cutting edge’ and will happily grasp every update the instant it becomes available ;) I don’t think there’s likely to be any shortage of reviews for popular software products detailing how peoples’ lives have been ruined :D
        I agree with everything else you’ve said. As far as your point 5, I suggest exuninstall if it’s still available at Google play is not bad as a quick n dirty backup(/restore) app prior to(/after) doing updates. The user interface is fugly and it was already dated when it came out a couple of years back, plus it can’t backup absolutely everything, but as an unobtrusive solution it’s compact, simple, doesn’t stay resident and it mostly does the job.

        • Android Developer

          Well, usually people shouldn’t be that afraid to update their apps.
          There are multiple phases till an app goes to the public, so unless the developers are careless or they were out of luck finding any special issues, lives shouldn’t be ruined… :)

          About tools, you could disable auto-updates for all apps, and use a tool like “Changelog Droid” to decide when to update (it shows the change log of multiple versions of each app) , and use either “Titanium backup” or “Ease Backup” to backup the app in case you wish to go back.

    • Christian Guth

      I have to agree. Not only this, but I have grown to suspect there’s something fishy under Play updates to apps. There’s no other way I can understand why the same ROM, with the same apps, on the same device, runs smoother after defaulting the whole thing and reinstalling from scratch. This even beats wiping cache and dalvik, so this bog has to be somewhere else.

  • tharrat143

    kick out Samsung Bloat ware device will run smoother and faster

  • Amit_N

    Better to buy a near stock android phone… Nexus / Moto X / G..
    Those Moto devices are damn fast thanks to F2FS file systems…

  • Abd

    Installing any of the GO products is the best advise to give to your enemy. You also shouldn’t use Ram cleaners/App killers

    • DivyanshuSharma

      dont know about GO but Nova works for me, RAM cleaners suck big time

      • Progressive_Joe

        GO products are a scam.

  • ankur850

    3 Trick to get faster mobile :

    Method one :

    1. Sell Samsung
    2. Get Money
    3. Buy New Stock Android Phone.

    Method two :

    1. Root Samsung
    2. Install Custom Rom
    3. Be ready to use rom with bugs.

    • Jayfeather787

      ROMs don’t always have bugs. Most ROMs are more stable than the manufacturer based ROMs to begin with.

    • Woe of [S]unjΔy

      Or just install PurePurformance X with TouchWiz

  • xxEMxx

    LOL…Rather buy iPhone and live life hassle free.

    • http://www.rebelwithoutaclue.com/ Rebel without a Clue

      LOL No thanks, iPhone has less battery life, too many bugs, crashes a lot more than Android and if I want any functionality, I have to jailbreak the damn device. So you stick to iPhone as it suits your intelligence level.

    • ChrisM40

      Thats called selling your soul to the devil.

      iOS isnt faster at all, it hides lag behind slow animations, many things take longer than on even a low to mid range android, but its got a pretty animation, so no one notices.

      • adamhs

        It’s pretty and shiny so no one notices.

    • Dan Reed

      Hassle free.
      Intelligence free.

    • Jayfeather787

      You’re no fun.

  • MasterMuffin

    I can’t believe nobody mentioned custom kernel! It can often have a bigger impact on performance than the ROM and I’m pretty sure you need one if you want to overclock

  • MKBHD

    Google Now Launcher by Google! The best option out there!

    • Jesus

      Too boring and big playskool icons.

  • Stanley08

    And where is Greenify? -_-

    • dkbnyc

      PlayStore

      • Stanley08

        -______________-

  • Jose

    For people wanting to install a custom rom, I’ve found this to be THE easiest instructions around, written for the average layman with a stock phone.

    Rooting, unlocking and all that other jargon, is done IN THE PROCESS (so that you can install other roms in the future).
    http://amigotips.wordpress.com/2014/07/02/your-phone-faster-longer-battery-life-no-unwanted-apps/

    • Flip Jumpman

      Good stuff… Thanks!

    • Jon R

      Ummm it says my lg g2 isn’tsupported but allows me to continue anyway but says “do you understand the risks” should i still do it?

  • Woe of [S]unjΔy

    Flash PurePerformance X

  • Guest

    wich is the best ROM for the Sony Xperia Sp?

  • Pablo Calero

    which is the best ROM for the Sony Xperia Sp?

  • Gon

    Clean master app!!!!

  • Will S.

    I mostly got rid of lag on my phone thanks to Nova launcher! In fact, I have more apps & widgets on my home screen than before!!

  • Christian Guth

    OMG and I came here hoping to find some useful insight.

  • Berni Hargrove

    I would have recommended Smart Launcher for a speedy not intrusive launcher that keeps your app drawer organized to boot.

  • Marc Guillot

    CyanogenMod 11, that brought new life to my phone.

  • mikel

    id AA mention abut Go Launcher !! Lol .Even Touch_Wiz is faster than this . :P

  • adamhs

    Re: below – there’s nothing with being completely up-to-date so long as you make a backup first :P

    GO products aren’t bad if you’re willing to put up with the constant barrage of “hey check out and install our other apps too!”.

  • http://galaxysamsungs6.com/ Sahil Arora

    Go Launcher and Next Launcer 3D is great in terms of interface and design but what frustrating is that both of the launchers made my Moto G slow!!!! This is what annoyed me, the default KitKat launcher is the best and runs smoothly.

  • Shoen

    I used iLauncher and it’s sooooohhhhh smoooothhhhhhh….

  • David Hunter

    Can I ask a question? I have an Xperia Z2, have had it for a couple of months now and I consistently have lag when entering the multi-tasking screen, is this normal? Just tried it again there and it must be a good half second to a second of lag between hitting the icon and having the multi-tasking window open. I turned all animations to zero to minimise their influence of my perception and yep, I hit the button and a good half second passes at least before the screen pops up. It should be faster, I don’t see why it’s this slow. I switched from the native launcher to the Google Now one and it’s the same delay. I only have a Gmail, Google Play and Keep widgets, my home screens are minimal, there’s really no excuse for it in my eye. While it’s not breaking my experience, it’s frustrating and half the time it’s quicker to go home and tap the relevant app I want to enter, so I don’t use the multi-tasking view very much as a result, it just feels bogged down. Brilliant phone other than that I must add! :)

  • http://twitter.com/qngml KONG!

    Install app as much as your ram capability