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Why is my phone so slow? Plus 7 tips to make it run faster

By Mint Fox

Originally published January 11, 2024

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Last Updated January 12, 2024

Why is my phone so slow?

You just got a new high score, posted it to your Instagram story, and now you’re doing a quick search to see how you can turn this mobile game into a career. But your phone is still…just…processing…about five steps behind you. Don’t fall to your knees and scream “Why is my phone so slow?” to the heavens just yet. In this blog, we’ll cover some of the most common reasons why your phone might be a bit sluggish as well as some steps you can take to try speeding things up.

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Why is my phone lagging?

Why is my phone lagging?

Phones tend to lag for the same reason people do: they’re either carrying too much, doing too much all at once, or they need a socks, er, software update. Let’s cover some of the most common causes for phone lag. 

Phone storage is full

As you might imagine, jogging up some stairs or running laps outside is more difficult if you do it while wearing a backpack stuffed with clothes, toys and other random items. Similarly, it’s easier for your phone to do most things if you don’t have thousands of videos, photos, apps and even text messages filling up its memory. The less storage your phone has available, the slower it’s gonna move. 

Too many apps

An overabundance of apps in particular can slow your phone down quite a bit, and not just because they take up valuable storage space. App behaviors and needs can affect your phone’s processing power more than any meme or screenshot. More on that…right now.

Apps are using too much data

Certain apps require a large amount of data to operate, like streaming services or social media. And if these apps are sending you push notifications, that means they’re still working in the background even after you close them, using data and valuable processing power. This is called “background app refresh” and fortunately, it is optional.

Your phone is running on an older operating system

If you’ve skipped an update or two, your phone might be working harder than usual to accommodate its older software version. 

Your Wi-Fi is slow

If your phone is connected to a Wi-Fi network more often than not and that’s when you notice it’s at its slowest, it could be an issue with your Wi-Fi connection.

Your phone has an old battery

Most phones run on lithium-ion batteries. If you’ve had yours for longer than 3 years, diminished battery power might be slowing things down.

How to make your phone faster

How to make your phone faster 

Now that you know what might be holding your phone back, let’s cover the best ways to remove these digital hurdles. 

Clear up phone storage

It might feel tedious at first, but taking a few minutes to scroll through your photos, videos & text convos and removing anything you don’t need can do wonders for your phone. Those 49 pics you snapped at the dog park? Pick your ten faves and delete the rest. You can also use a cloud storage program to offload some media from your phone, if you’re reluctant to say goodbye.

Uninstall apps you aren’t using

Clearing up storage includes apps too. That app you downloaded to get 10% off a sandwich at that regional chain last year that you haven’t visited since? Time to say goodbye. Keep in mind, most apps can be reinstalled whenever you need them, too. So if you’ve got a video streaming app that you only open once a year when you’re on a flight, it’s probably safe to uninstall it until your next trip. 

Turn off background app refresh

When you closed Instagram an hour ago but it’s telling you about a new follower now? That’s background app refresh. A lot of the apps on your phone are constantly updating, while using data & processing power to do so. You can pick and choose which apps refresh automatically in the background and which ones refresh only when you want them to in your phone’s settings menu. If you need more details based on your phone manufacturer, or just want to know more, we’ve got a whole separate blog that fully explores background app refresh.

Update phone software

A quick query through your phone’s settings menu will tell you if your phone has fallen behind on software updates. 

Fix your internet connection

If it seems like the issue might be with your Wi-Fi, conduct a speed test and reach out to your ISP if you’re not getting the upload & download speeds you’ve come to expect. 

Restart your phone every once in a while

A simple reboot of your phone can refresh it a bit and speed things up. Think of it like a nap for your phone…or an energy drink.

Install a new phone battery

Many third-party vendors can assist with updating your phone’s battery if you think this may be the cause. If you opted for phone insurance, a replacement may also be covered.

Still asking “Why is my phone so slow?”

If you’ve given all of the above a try and your phone still acts like it’s filled with molasses, your next best course of action is a full factory reset. Just make sure your contacts, photos, videos and everything else that’s important to you are backed up first. And, if after a full reset, it still takes several minutes just to open an email, it may be time to upgrade your phone. 

Get a great deal on an upgrade when you switch to Mint

Now that you have an idea of how to get your phone back up to speed, and some tips to prevent it from coming to a screeching halt again, you can dive even deeper into optimizing it with our blogs specifically catered to iPhone and Android devices. But if it’s truly time to move on and get a new phone, we can help you there too. We’ve got killer deals on new phones with all the features you want. Some of them even come with free Mint service, so you can treat yourself to a new phone and get rid of your overpriced wireless carrier all at once.

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Originally published March 2022; Updated January 2024

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