There’s like two categories of Android users: the ones that know how to use their phone and others that don’t and like to bitch about it. Not even two days ago I had to “fix” @numismaticchick ‘s phone because it “didn’t work.” Not that I’m bitter about it or anything. If you’re phone is on the sluggish side and you don’t want to make the plunge into custom roms and rooting, then try these five steps first.
1. Download A New Launcher
Most Android users don’t realize that you can install and use a completely different launcher with your phone. What’s a launcher? It’s basically how you access all of your apps and homescreens. For better or worse, some launchers are faster than others, and I’ve personally found HTC’s Sense UI and Samsung’s Touchwiz UI to be a little on the slow side. A good alternative to start with is Launcher Pro, it offers the same functionality as your old launcher but with twice the speed. Upgrading to the paid version of Launcher Pro will unlock some really cool widgets (they even resemble HTC’s Sense).
2. Turn Off Your Live Wallpaper
This is going to seem like a no brainer to some, but running a live wallpaper can dramatically affect a phone’s performance. The one caveat, however, is that all live wallpaper are not created equal and some are very poorly designed can easily strain your phone’s resources. Most of the stock live wallpapers that came with your phone will probably be okay to use, but beware when downloading from the Market (some live wallpapers have made my phone almost unusable).
Browse our live wallpaper category or some good selections of live wallpapers that won’t slow your phone down too much (if you just have to use them).
3. Clean Out Your Cache
Just like I use CCleaner on my computer, it helps to occasionally purge your apps’ cache. I won’t tell you that this will dramatically speed up your phone, but it will help a bit and has the added benefit of decreasing the amount of junk that apps have to store and sort through. There are a number of free Android apps that can do this for you, but we like Cache Cleaner+ and App Cache Cleaner.
I should also note that you’ll probably be fine doing this once a week (it won’t do much if you use it everyday.)
4. Eliminate Terrible Widgets
Just like live wallpapers, widgets can be poorly designed and make it pain to slide from one homescreen to the other. Here’s a simple way to test: slide from one homescreen to another and see if you get any lag or if the transition isn’t smooth then one of the widgets that you’ve slid to is probably the culprit.
Now, if you’re in love with a particular widget there’s really not much you can do, but if you want to give something new a shot there are a number of all-in-one widget programs that will probably fill your need. The two most notable are Beautiful Widgets and Fancy Widgets, which offer a number of clock, weather and toggle related widgets.
There are also some great widgets included in Colorize and Android Pro Widgets. Friendcaster offers a good widget as an alternative for Facebook for Android and nearly every Twitter client offers one if not several widgets (check out our Ultimate Twitter Guide for Android for the complete skinny).
5. Delete, Cut Off and Update Your Apps
The more resources your phone is consuming the less will be available for you when you need to Facebook stalk your friends or drunk dial your Mum. It goes without saying, that you should delete apps you don’t use (this isn’t to say, however, that just having a lot of apps will make your phone slower). It’s also a no brainer that you should have any network connections you’re using cut off (e.g. Wifi, Bluetooth and GPS).
However, there are two other really important ways to keep your phone snappy. For starters, make sure that you’re updating all of your applications and, really, you should go the extra step and make sure they automatically update. Developers are constantly improving their apps and making the code lighter and simpler, which means a faster phone for you. Second, take a serious look at how often your phone’s apps are updating. If you aren’t that into Twitter then tell your Twitter app to check for an update every 30 minutes (instead of, say, every 5 minutes). The less these applications are running the background the more power you’ll have to use and get the added plus of saving some battery life.
The Wrap Up
Depending on the age of your device and the software it is running, it may be hard to make your phone faster than it is — but at least you can make sure it runs as fast as when it was brand new. Take these simple steps as a starting point for making sure your devices runs as it was intended too. If this still isn’t enough speed for you, take a serious look at rooting and custom roms, which provide much more speed than you can achieve with stock firmware.
Thanks to Bruce for allowing us to use his photo under the Creative Commons.