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7 ways to speed up your smartphone

Good Housekeeping UK logo Good Housekeeping UK 06/07/2022 Carrie-Ann Skinner

A smartphone can set you back hundreds of pounds, so when it starts to slow down, it's easy to feel frustrated and worried about how much longer it might last you.

Smartphones are amazing pieces of tech which hold a whole world of information and memories within them and with all the photos, apps, music and messages we store in our handsets, it's no wonder they can become a little sluggish over time.

No one wants to wait around for their phone to open Facebook or load the camera roll, so if you've found yourself doing that recently, we've put together our guide on how to speed up your smartphone.

Delete unused items

When was the last time you gave your phone a good declutter? Not only will this speed up your device, but according to research by Ccleaner, 59% of people who had a digital declutter reported feeling positive, calm and productive.

Start by removing any apps, photos, text messages and even contacts that you don't need anymore:

1. Delete unused apps

On an iPhone press and hold the app you want to delete until the icons begin to shake and small crosses appear in the top left-hand corner of the icons, then tap the app you want to delete, followed by any others. They will now be removed from you device. Android users should head to the Settings app and then select Apps. Tap the app you want to remove and then select Uninstall from the top right-hand corner.

how to speed up your smartphone © MoMo Productions - Getty Images how to speed up your smartphone

2. Get rid of unwanted movies, TV shows and music

These files take up a lot of storage, thereby slowing down your phone. On an iPhone, open the TV app and choose Library from the bottom middle of the screen. Select either Movies, Home Videos or Downloaded and then swipe to the left and tap delete on any you want to remove. To remove music, open the Music app and then select the Menu next to Playlist you want to delete (this is depicted by three dots in a horizontal line) and then select Delete.

Those with Android handsets should open the Play Music app and then tap the Menu icon (three horizontal lines) in the top right-hand corner. Select My Library and then press the song you want to delete. Now, from the Menu choose Delete or Remove from My Library. Removing videos follows the same steps as above but open the Google Play Movies & TV app instead.

3. Remove old text messages

On an iPhone open the messaging app and swiping to the left on the conversation, then press the red trash icon. Those with smartphone running Google Android should open the Messaging app and the tap the conversation they want to delete messages from. Now press the Menu button in the top right hand corner and select Delete.

how to keep up your smartphone © Tim Robberts - Getty Images how to keep up your smartphone

4. Erase unwanted photos

Open the Photos app on an iPhone, then select Recents. Tap the photos you want to delete and then press the Trash Can icon in the bottom right-hand corner. Your recently deleted photos will go into a folder called Recently Deleted. You can clear up more space by deleting photos from this folder the same way — images will be permanently deleted once you delete them from your Recently Deleted.

On an Android device, the latest version of the operating system uses the Photos app but earlier versions with the Gallery app can still follow the same steps. Open Photo or Gallery and then from the top right-hand corner, press select. Now tap the photos you want to Delete and then press the Trash Can icon at the top of the screen to delete them.

GHI Tip: Deleted a photo by accident? Go into your Recently Deleted folder, select the photo and click Recover in the bottom right corner of the screen.

Empty out downloads folder

Both iPhones and Android smartphones have folders where you can download files from the internet, whether photos sent to you or even PDFs attached to emails.

On your iPhone open the Files app and then choose Browse for the bottom right-hand corner. Now press 'on my iPhone' and tap Select from the top right-hand corner. Choose the files you want to remove and press the trash can icon from the bottom of the screen.

If you’ve got an Android phone, you’ll have a downloads folder that will store PDFs, word documents and any photos you’ve chosen to download. Open the Downloads/My Files folder and delete anything you no longer need.

how to speed up your smartphone © Keep It 100 - Getty Images how to speed up your smartphone

Clear browser data

When surfing the web on your smartphone, you will leave a trail in the form of your browsing history which includes a list of sites you’ve visited as well as images and data. Clearing this on a regular basis will help to speed up your phone.

If you’ve got an iPhone, open the Settings app and then press Safari. Scroll down and tap Clear History and Website Data.

On Android smartphones that use Chrome as the web browser (a red, yellow, green a blue circular icon), press the Menu icon in the top right-hand corner and tap History, then select Clear Browsing Data from the bottom of the screen and make sure all items are ticked apart from Save Password. Press Clear and the data will be removed. Alternatively, you can open the Settings menu, choose Storage and then select Other Apps. Find the relevant app, tap it and select Clear Cache.

Clear cached app data

Just like we pages leave traces of data on your smartphone, apps do the same, so regularly clear out their data too.

On an iPhone, open the Settings menu and then select General followed by Usage. Scroll down to the section marked Documents & Data and tap the individual apps that you want to delete data from. Now tap Edit from the top right-hand corner and select Delete All. Follow the steps labelled above to clear cached app data on Android devices.

Latest version of operating system

Make sure you’ve got the most up-to-date version of your phone’s operating system. To check which version you're running, and if there are any updates available, on an iPhone open the Settings app then Press General and Select Software Update. If an update is available follow the instructions on screen to install it.

Got a handset running Google Android? Open the Settings app and then scroll down and tap About Phone. Tap System Updates and the phone will automatically check for any available. Follow the instructions on screen if updates are detected.

how to speed up your smartphone © Nora Carol Photography - Getty Images how to speed up your smartphone

Factory reset

If none of the other methods above work, then you could try factory resetting your smartphone. However, we can’t stress how important it is to make sure you back up your smartphone before factory resetting the device.

On an iPhone, head to Settings, and then General. Scroll down and tap Reset, then select Erase all Content and Settings. If you’ve set a passcode on your smartphone or tablet, you’ll need to enter this before all the content will be erased and the smartphone returns back to its original condition when you first got it.

Android smartphone owners should open the Settings app from the full list available and then scroll down and select Backup & Reset. From here press Factory Data Reset. You’ll be warned that all your data will be removed, but carry on to factory reset the phone.

Replace your battery

According to Mobiles.co.uk, older and inefficient batteries can have a negative impact on how fast smartphones run. However, if you do decide to replace your battery make sure it is performed by an authorised source. For iPhones, head to you nearest Apple store, while for Android smartphones contact your manufacturer to see who they advise you use.

Check if your iPhone battery needs replacing by opening the Battery section is Settings, then tap Battery Health. Look at the percentage next to Maximum Capacity, which reflects how worn out the battery is. On newer phones this will be 100% but on older handsets, this will be lower, meaning it won't last as long between charges.

If it's less than 80%, you'll see a message lower down the screen under Peak Performance Capability explaining that the battery is seriously degraded along with a link to the battery replacement options offered by Apple. These start from £49 for iPhones out of warranty.

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