Is your iPhone not performing how it used to? Do you experience frequent lags? Are apps crashing on you all the time? Would you like to extend the life of your older iPhone by making it faster? If you’ve answered yes to any of those questions, this article is for you.
Do Some Spring Cleaning
Digital hoarding is a real issue. People hoard old documents, music, videos, multiple copies of identical pictures, saved web pages, and even apps. While most of us manage to maintain some moderation, everyone can benefit from some digital spring cleaning—your iPhone included.
What does a typical spring cleaning involve? Several things, actually. Here’s a brief checklist that you should go through every time you notice that your iPhone is showing signs of slowing down:
- Delete unused apps: App Store features over 2 million apps, and the number is growing rapidly. If you’re like us, you want to try all the latest hits and make your iPhone as useful as you can by installing apps for every occasion. Unfortunately, the more apps you have installed, the more likely is your iPhone to slow down. Storage space is the obvious issue, but many apps automatically start in the background robbing your device of precious CPU cycles. We recommend you go over every app on your device and try to remember when was the last time you’ve used it. We’re willing to bet that you’ll discover at least a few apps that you no longer need.
- Delete saved web data: Just like all other web browsers, Safari automatically saves various web data, such as cookies, history, forms, or images, to decrease loading times, offer smart suggestions, and do many other useful things. From time to time, it’s a good idea to give Safari a fresh start by going to Settings and clicking on the Clear History and Website Data option. Keep in mind that doing so will disable URL suggestions until Safari accumulates some web browsing history.
- Delete old conversations: These days, messages go far beyond smiley faces and few-dozen-kB-large images. Videos, high-quality GIFs, and voice recordings have all become part of our daily text-based conversations, taking up a lot of space on our devices. One of the most common causes of insufficient storage space on the iPhone is the Messages app. By default, it’s set to never delete old conversations. Most people should, however, change the setting to free up storage space. To do so, go to Settings, click on Messages, and change the Keep Messages setting from Forever to 30 Days.
- Clear app cache: Most apps use the local storage to store user settings, temporary files, or other types of app data. While some developers go out their way to code their apps to take up as little storage space as they can, others are not so considerate. Consequently, it’s not unheard of for a simple app to take up hundreds of megabytes of storage space for no good reason at all. What’s worse, the storage space often remains occupied even after the developer has released an update. On iPhone, the fastest way how to delete app cache is to reinstall the app. An alternative is Jailbreak and a special software utility.
- Close background processes: While you’re at it, you should close all background processes that don’t need to be running. We don’t advise you to do this because we’re concerned by the amount of memory the apps may take; we advise you to close background processes to prevent them from becoming active occasionally, causing lag spikes. You can do this by double-clicking the Home button, activating the app switcher, and swiping up to close any non-essential
- Reboot your device: You might be surprised by how much can a simple reboot solve. When you reboot your iPhone, you completely clean its memory, cause all apps and system processes to start again and go through their start-up sequences.
Update to the Latest Version of iOS
Most iOS updates released by Apple bring with them some performance boost. It may be just a slightly better multi-core performance, or it may be a minor memory management optimization, but these small changes can stack up over time and become noticeable.
To manually check for iOS updates, go to Settings, then General, and click on Software Update to check if you’re running the latest version of iOS. You must be connected to a Wi-Fi network and have your device plugged into a charger. Because system updates may take a while to install, you can choose whether you want your iPhone to install the update when you’re asleep or immediately.
Alternatively, you can update your iPhone using iTunes. This is handy when you can’t update wirelessly. You’ll need the latest version of iTunes and a cable to connect your iPhone to your computer. In iTunes, select your device, click on Summary, and then click Check for Update. If an update is available, click Download and Update.
The only time we don’t recommend updating to the latest version of iOS is if you own a very old iPhone. The performance of the latest iPhone is significantly better than the performance of just two or three generations old iPhones. The only way for Apple to introduce new, more hardware-demanding features is to disregard their performance impact on old iPhones. Installing iOS 9 on iPhone 4s, for example, is a horrible idea. “I got a bad case of slowness when it came to the camera app, where speed is key. Capturing an adorable-yet-fleeting cat face (or human face, I guess) requires the app to be ready to go,” commented Chelsey B. Coombs on the performance of iOS 9 on iPhone 4s.
Tweak a Few Settings
The Settings app hides a lot of useful options for making your iPhone faster. It’s not immediately obvious what each option does, and they all come with some compromises:
- Disable app auto updates: By default, your iPhone updates apps automatically in the background. This is convenient because you always get to enjoy the latest versions of your favorite apps without ever thinking about updating The downside to auto updates is their unpredictability. An update may start while you’re in the middle of watching a YouTube video or when you’re playing a demanding game, causing your Internet speeds to fall and your gameplay experience to degrade as the result of slowdowns. You can change the update behavior in the iTunes & App Store section of the Settings app. There, turn off the option for Updates.
- Disable automatic downloads: Apart from app updates, your iPhone also automatically downloads the changes made on other devices such as if you purchase a song or make changes on a document in Pages. We advise you to disable automatic downloads along with app auto updates. You can do so in the iTunes & App Store section of the Settings app. Look for a setting titled Automatic Downloads and switch the corresponding sliders to off.
- Disable background app refresh: With the release of iOS 7, Apple has made it possible for developers to make apps run in the background and carry out whatever tasks are requested. All background apps should be able to check for new information only in an intelligent and controlled manner that doesn’t negatively affect battery life nor performance, but reports of massive battery drain caused by background apps are plentiful. If you have no use for background apps, you can disable the feature by going to the General section of the Settings app and turning off the Background App Refresh option.
- Enable the Reduce Motion setting: The Reduce Motion setting is aimed at people who experience motion sickness because of the animation and parallax effects introduced in iOS 7. When enabled, the setting changes or downright disables many system animations, freeing up hardware resources for more important things such as apps. The setting is located in the General section of the Settings app, under Accessibility. Turn it on and try switching between apps to see what it does.
- Enable the Reduce Transparency setting: The transparency effect that has been characterizing the design language of iOS since the version 7.0 is not only liked by everyone because it can be downright confusing and hard to use, but it also can negatively impact the performance of your iPhone. Luckily, since iOS 7.1, you can disable it by opening the Settings app, going to General, Accessibility, and turning on the Reduce Transparency option.
Reset to Factory Settings
Smartphones are in many ways like bicycles. They run great and without any problems for the first month or two. Then, almost as with a flip of a switch, random creaks, clicks, and clucks appear and never go away. The only difference being that the creaks, clicks, and clucks smartphones make are of a digital nature.
To restore your smartphone to that pristine condition it was in when you first unboxed it, you need to perform a reset to factory settings. Such reset erases the information and settings on your iPhone and installs the latest version of iOS.
Before you can do it, you should have the latest version of iTunes on your computer and make a backup. You can also restore your device to factory settings directly from the settings menu by going to General, Reset, and tapping on the Erase All Content and Settings option, but the iTunes method is safer.
With the latest version of iTunes installed and your iPhone backed up, open iTunes on your computer and connect your iPhone with a cable. Select your iPhone and click Restore in the Summary panel. Click Restore again to confirm and wait for your device to restore to factory settings.
Get a New iPhone
You may not like to hear it, but sometimes it’s best to say goodbye to your old iPhone and get a new one. Jumping just two generations forward will give you a ridiculous performance boost as well as many new, exciting software and hardware features.
Because iPhones keep their resell value for a much longer time than Android devices, it’s a good idea to sell and update relatively often.
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