Out of the box, pristine new smartphones are almost always fast, responsive, and trouble free. But load up thousands of emails and attachments, various apps and games, songs, videos, photos and things can slow them down significantly.

Smartphones are handheld computers and they suffer from the same bottlenecks that often plague our PCs. Whether its too many photos, music or video files or outdated settings, its a challenge to keep things running smoothly.

Unlike PC’s, however, the usual solutions of upgrading hardware or adding RAM and storage aren’t available to smartphones. This means that users need to exercise some form of management to get their devices running like new again. Here are some general things to consider if your smartphone starts freezing or slowing down.

Update the software

Ensuring your device has the latest system software or firmware update is key in making sure it runs smoothly. It is no secret that most consumer electronics ship with early versions of the software or operating system and manufacturers squash bugs, fix issues and add new features with subsequent software updates.

Even older smartphones can enjoy new features and better handling of applications by updating the software to the latest available version.

The hindrance here is that some smartphones need to be update via carriers and this takes a lot of time, but it is good practice to know what is available for your devices in terms of operating systems and to check and see how you can upgrade as it is made available.

Understand the issues

Much like cars, smartphones are subject to recalls when components in the system need looking after. One such example is the iPhone where a software update has caused performance throttling and slow-downs enabled by the system due to decreased battery life.

This means some users will see their devices’ battery life deplete suddenly when reaching 40 per cent or 30 percent. For this issue, Apple has updated some software fixes as well as offered discounted battery replacement on these affected devices (iPhone 7, iPhone 6, iPhone 6S and iPhone SE).

Knowing what the issues facing your phone and finding the solutions and services that can mitigate these issue can help your device run smoother or as close to how it was when new.

Check the charger

Sometimes, it is the charging cable or the plug that could be causing problems such as poor charging, generating heat or causing the smartphone to restart. Plugs and wires take a lot of beating in day-to-day use and sometimes need to be replaced in order for the smartphone to go back to normal.

Cut the junk

Spring cleaning the contents of your device doesn’t only free up space, it can also speed up performance.

If you have any games, videos, apps, photos, songs that you don’t really use or access, it is best to remove them from your device (provided you have them stored in the cloud or on your PC).

This won’t just lighten the load on your device since there’s less stuff to manage, it will also give you more space for newer files you want to carry. I often backup all my photos to cloud services in order to free up what is on my phone.

Add storage when possible

For smartphones that can accept microSD card storage, adding these has never been cheaper.

While microSD cards can handle media, photos and some apps, they aren’t part of the core OS and are really good for storing content you are planning on playing back. microSD card storage isn’t great for applications which are still installed on your phone’s built-in storage for security purposes but adding storage does add more flexibility.

Also worth considering are cloud storage services like OneDrive, Google Drive, Box and DropBox. These services offer free tiers and have companion apps that ensure you can access information wherever you have an Internet connection.

Start fresh

Sometimes your smartphone will slow down and feel sluggish despite doing your best to manage your resources and space.

The best thing to consider doing is to start fresh by backing everything up and resetting your device from scratch.

This makes it easy to determine which apps you really need to use and can add again.

Not only does resetting your device clean out all the bad code and digital detritus that has collected through time, it makes it possible to get the latest OS, newest firmware and make your device feel new again. Just make sure you back up all your data and files before erasing your device since once you delete them, the can’t be recovered.

Check the Weather

Weather affects everything and specially electronics. Most smartphones will slow down or refuse to work properly in extreme weather or temperatures. I’ve experienced a spike in heat from smartphones that are used for navigating via GPS when placed on a dashboard on a hot day.

Similarly, extreme cold can affect various components of smartphones. Touchscreen sensitivity can be dampened and your phone might not respond to touch or work as expected. There’s not much you can do in these situations but try and keep your smartphone’s temperature in check.

Weather exposure also affects battery life. This varies from phone to phone but considering that batteries are basically chemical components, its not surprising that exposing these to heat or cold can adversely affect both short-term and long term battery performance.

Conclusion

There are third party apps that promise to help speed up smartphones and declutter them, but while some of these might work on the short term, I tend to trust the device’s native OS itself to manage resources and speed up bottlenecks.

The above suggestions have helped me speed up older or underpowered phones and have helped to extend the useful life of these devices.

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Gadjo is a veteran journalist covering consumer technology, lifestyle and business. He has written for international newspapers, magazines and online publications. He is founder of Canadianreviewer.com as well as an avid photographer and travel enthusiast.

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