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Why is my iPhone so slow? And how can I make it run faster?

By Josh Levesque

Originally published November 3, 2023

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Last Updated February 8, 2024

Mint Fox with a phone that is buffering and the text says, "Why is my iPhone so slow?"

You’re rewatching old episodes of your favorite TV show and a guest star you recognize comes on the screen. “Where do I know them from?,” you wonder, as you take your iPhone out of your pocket. And by the time you’ve unlocked your iPhone, gone into your apps and tried to look them up, you’re already on the next episode. You could ask Siri, “Why is my iPhone so slow?” But you want an answer now, not in 20 minutes. So let’s take a look at all the factors that could be gumming up the works in that otherwise sleek iPhone of yours and go over the steps you can take to speed things up again.

In this article

Why is my iPhone lagging? 

There are several reasons why your iPhone might have a hard time keeping up with your own fingers. So, let’s get into those right now and try to put an end to the lagging:

You’re using an older iOS version

Apple is constantly rolling out software updates for their iPhones, most of which you don’t even notice because they just consist of minor clean-ups, bug fixes and security enhancements. This is when your iPhone goes from iOS 15 to iOS 15.2.1, for example. It’s very important you keep your iPhone up to date, because after a while these small issues can add up to some serious lag. 

There are also more significant updates, like when your iPhone goes from iOS 15 to iOS 16. These updates are just as important (and far more noticeable) because they tend to include major improvements to existing apps and some handy new features in addition to the minor patches & clean-ups.

Mint Fox with a sign that says "storage almost full"

Your iPhone storage is almost full

Think of how jam-packed iPhone storage can affect performance in terms of how carrying a heavier load IRL can affect yours. If you’re wearing an empty backpack, it’s easier to move around and carry more stuff with minimal impact. But if that backpack is filled to the brim with books, photos, snowglobes, crystals and you’ve got three grocery bags in each hand plus a fanny pack full of batteries…good luck trying to walk at your usual pace. This is what it’s like for an iPhone bogged down with thousands of messages, screenshots, videos of fireworks you saw in 2017, PDFs you downloaded for recipes you’re never going to try, and so on.

Your apps might be updating in the background

One feature that is very easy to overlook is background app refresh. This is when certain apps on your iPhone continue running in the background, even after you’ve exited them. Not only does this use up data & battery, but if you have multiple apps all refreshing in the background simultaneously, it can really slow down your iPhone.

Your web browser may be collecting too much history

Safari and any other web browsers on your iPhone collect cookies and browsing history for every single site you visit. And unlike you after trigonometry class, it doesn’t just automatically forget everything. This can significantly slow down the browser app and also uses up a fair amount of storage.

You have too many tabs open

Another thing that is very easy to overlook is how many tabs you currently have open on your browser. We’re all guilty of it. You don’t want to lose the info you just searched for, so you open a new tab to browse for something completely different. This continues until you’ve got 94 tabs open and now you don’t even remember why you searched for the cast of an off-Broadway show from 1997 (tab 6) or how many lemons life has to give you to create one serving of lemonade (tab 11). Which tab is this blog open on? Be honest.

Your iPhone is old 

We know it might hold sentimental value, but unfortunately, your phone itself needs to be replaced sometimes too. iPhones can only handle so many software updates before it’s time to upgrade the device altogether. You’ll notice your battery life start to deteriorate over time, which causes efficiency to go down, too.

A sign that says how to speed up iPhone performance

How to speed up iPhone performance

Now that we’ve answered, “Why is my iPhone so slow?,” it’s time to address the more important question: “How can I speed up my iPhone?” There are several things you can do to make your iPhone faster, and the best part is just how quick & easy they are. 

Check your iPhone for iOS updates

We mentioned how important it is to keep your phone updated, so here’s what you can do to ensure it’s the best version of itself: 

  • Go into “Settings” on your iPhone
  • Tap on “General” then select “Software Update”
  • If it says a new update is available, select “Download and install”
  • Toggle the “Automatic Updates” feature on so you don’t have to do this all the time

Update your apps, too

Just like your iPhone, the apps on it will get regular updates for bug fixes and security features to keep running smoothly. There are two ways to go about updating your iPhone apps:

  • Open the App Store
  • Click on your account icon (top right)
  • Select “Update all” to…well you can guess what it means
    • OR just scroll through and select the ones you want to update individually 

OR

  • Open the App Store
  • Click on the Search icon (bottom right)
  • Search for the app you’d like to update
  • Tap on the app and select “Update”

Clear out your iPhone storage 

It’s very easy to use up storage space on your iPhone without even realizing it. Every screenshot, every new app, every photo & video takes up valuable space on your iPhone. You can see if this is the culprit by following these steps:

  • Go into the iPhone “Settings”
  • Select “General”
  • Tap on “iPhone Storage” to see the current status

If your iPhone has less than 2GB of available empty space, there’s a good chance this is what’s slowing it down. That airline app you downloaded for a trip 14 months ago and haven’t opened since? You can probably uninstall it. The nine selfies you took at that concert last summer to ensure you got a winner? Pick the winner and delete the other eight. That meme you screenshotted and shared to your Instagram Story? It’s probably outdated now, so it’s safe to say goodbye. 

Set up iCloud

We’ve all been there. You finally convinced yourself to get rid of something only to realize you need it a few hours later, hence why you may be reluctant to delete some of those selfies or messages to free up space. Apple knows this, which is why they let you back up stuff like messages using iCloud. 

  • Go into the iPhone “Settings”  
  • Tap on your name
  • Select “iCloud Backup” and turn it on

After you’ve backed up the most important stuff on your iPhone, you can delete it to free up storage while knowing it’s still accessible from any of your Apple devices through iCloud.

Disable background app refresh

As we mentioned earlier, many of the apps on your iPhone are capable of running in the background even when you’re not using them. Exiting an app isn’t enough, you have to fully close the apps by either double-clicking your home button or swiping up from the bottom of the screen (for iPhone X and newer models). You can also disable background app refresh on specific apps with just a few steps:

  • Go into “Settings” on your iPhone  
  • Tap on “General”
  • Select “Background App Refresh”
    • This will show you a full list of all the apps currently capable of idling in the background 
  • Toggle the switch to “Off” on each app to disable Background App Refresh

Clear your browser cache and open tabs

Just like on any desktop or laptop computer, the info your browser collects can bog it down and it needs to be cleared out sometimes. These steps ought to do it:

  • Go into “Settings” on your iPhone
  • Select “Safari” or whichever browser you use most often
  • Tap on “Clear History and Website Data”
  • Tap on “Close all tabs” while you’re here too

Restart your phone 

You should be restarting your phone pretty regularly. It’s a valuable step you can take after doing anything we’ve listed so far, or it might be all your phone needs right now. Follow these steps and make sure you leave it off for at least 10 seconds before powering it back on:

  • Quickly press & release the volume up button
  • Quickly press & release the volume down button
  • Press & hold the side button
  • Release the side button once the Apple logo appears
  • Swipe to power off iPhone 

Still asking, “Why is my iPhone so slow?”

Reset your phone (AKA the last resort)

We’d like to believe you’re still reading because you just love how informative and entertaining our blogs are, but we know there’s a chance you’ve done everything we’ve recommended so far and your iPhone is still lagging. At this point, it may be time to do a full factory reset. To ensure you don’t lose anything important to you, be sure to back everything up to iCloud first, then follow these steps to completely reset all the data & settings in your iPhone:

  • Go into “Settings” on your iPhone  
  • Tap on “General”
  • Select “Reset”
  • Tap on “Erase All Contents and Settings”
  • Enter your Apple ID password or iPhone passcode to confirm

Make the most of that iPhone with Mint Mobile

Now you’re armed with all the tips & tricks to keep your iPhone running smoothly so you’ll be better prepared going forward. We know a slow iPhone can be incredibly frustrating, but fortunately these fixes are all relatively simple and easy to do. Plus, after you’ve mastered keeping your iPhone up to speed, you can start applying our other phone hacks to get the most out of your iPhone. But we’re more than just iPhone tips here; we also offer premium wireless starting at just $15/mo*. So if you want to save money as well as time, take a minute and use our Compatibility Checker to see if you can bring that refreshed, faster iPhone to Mint Mobile. 

*New activation & upfront payment for 3-month plan req’d. Taxes & fees extra. Addt’l restrictions apply. See mintmobile.com for full terms.

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