Whether you are resisting the temptation to upgrade to newer, faster hardware, or a year worth of use has made your Android phone feel slow and laggy, here are some ways to make your older phone run a bit smoother.
This guide provides a number of tips you can use to speed up your phone, and while not every tip will apply to you or your phone, you should find at least a few tips in here that will. Whether you have rooted your phone, overclocked, flashed a new ROM, or none of the above, you will be able to take advantage of a number of the tweaks below to get your phone from sluggish and glitchy to quick and smooth.
Everyone phone is different, too, so note that some of the more advanced tweaks may take a bit of trial and error on your part. I haveve experienced good things with these tweaks on my Galaxy S, but I will note where a different approach to a specific tweak will help owners of older or more underpowered phones. Users with newer phones (like the Galaxy S) may not need these tips as much, but I have heard from several sources that even speedy phones like those have benefited from these tips, so they're worth playing around with no matter what phone you have.
If You Have not Rooted Your Phone
There are a lot of great tweaks out there for rooted phones, but there are a ton of really simple things you can do to speed up your phone, even if you haven't done any hacking whatsoever.
Try a New Home Screen Launcher
We have talked about the benefits of other home screen launchers on more than one occasion, but I cannot stress how great of an upgrade this can be. As always, I am a huge proponent of LauncherPro, as it will not only bring you a noticeable speed increase upon installing it, but it also has lots of advanced features we can tweak to boost our speed even further. Of course, ADWLauncher is also very popular, and the Android Market is rife with other options.
I am going to write the rest of this tutorial from the perspective of a LauncherPro user, since from what I have seen, it has the most speed-boosting options, but you should be able to find many of the settings I mention below in other launchers, too I will note where a few of them are along the way, but you may have to do some poking around of your own depending on what Launcher you are using.
Lower the Number of Home Screens You Use And Ditch Those Widgets
If you have an HTC phone with the exclusive Sense UI and you would rather not ditch it for something like LauncherPro, thats fine you can still put this tip into practice. While some phones, like the Motorola Droid, come with a mere five home screens, many come with up to seven. While this is pretty handy if you like lots of icons and widgets, they can really take up a lot of memory on your phone, which can cause jerky animations, lag, and force closes.
In our guide to organizing your Android home screen, we mentioned the two philosophies behind home screen usage. It's fine to have lots of home screens, icons, and widgets, but if your phone is not performing up to your standards, you may have to compromise and try using fewer home screens. I went down from seven to three home screens and have not looked back the jump in performance was pretty incredible.
If you are using LauncherPro, you can pick your number of home screens by hitting the Menu button on your phone, tapping Preferences, then tapping Homescreen Settings. If you are sticking with your stock launcher, you may not have the option to actually decrease the number of home screens, but you can still benefit by removing some icons and widgets from two to four of your home screens. It probably won't give you as big of a benefit as getting rid of the screens entirely, but those widgets can still suck up tons of memory, and deleting them from your home screen should make your phone run noticeably smoother.
Uninstall Misbehaving Apps
When we discussed the myth of Android task killers, we mentioned that one of the real problems with slow phones is running poorly coded apps apps that use up too much CPU in the background. Previously mentioned Watchdog is still a great way to keep track of those apps: if something is constantly running in the background, it may be causing some of the performance hits on your device. Unless its something you cannot live without, uninstall it and find an alternative.
Note: that some of the worst offenders in this category are apps that come pre-installed on your phone. Unfortunately, you need to be rooted to uninstall these, but we will talk about that in a bit.
Uninstall or Move Apps to Free Up Space
Its also worth mentioning that even if an app does not misbehave, it can cause slowdowns on your device. Believe it or not, the more free space you have in your phone internal memory, the faster your phone can write to the disk. If you are not sure how much free space your phone has, you can check it by going to Settings > SD Card and Phone Storage to see. You can also see which ones are taking up the most space by going to Settings > Applications > Manage Applications, hitting Menu, and sorting them by size. If you find you aren't even using an app thats hogging space, you might as well uninstall it, no point in keeping it around just so it can slow down your phone.
Your other option is to use the ever-handy Apps2Sd to move some of those apps off your phone internal storage and onto your SD card. By default, the developer of a given app usually decides whether an app will install to your SD card, but with the App 2 SD app, you can do it yourself. Just pop open the app, and you will get a list of apps that are on your internal storage that have the ability to move to the SD card. Just move them over to free up space.
Tweak Your Launcher Memory Usage
If you really want to dig into your system settings, there are a few more advanced tweaks you can make to your launcher that should help it run a bit smoother.
If you are using LauncherPro, hit the Menu button and go to Preferences > Advanced Settings > Memory Usage Settings. While you can tweak the Advanced Settings to your liking, the easiest way to take advantage it to use one of LauncherPro many Memory Usage Presets. These presets tweak different settings to fit the needs for different people and different phones.
Overclock Your Phone Processor
A surefire way to get a speed boost out of your old, underpowered phone is to overclock it. We have also discussed this already before, so we will not get too deep into it here, but I will remind you that to overclock, you'll need to install a custom kernel. These are specific to your device, so you will have to do some googling for compatible overclocking kernels to find one thats right for you. Generally, kernels are organized by two things: voltage and clock speed. The higher clock speed you choose, the more likely you will need a higher voltage kernel. As long as you are not going overboard with the overclocking, you should be able to get by with a low or standard voltage kernel without a problem.
If your phone came pre-installed with all sorts of applications that you do not need, you can unisntall them with an app called Titanium Backup. Once you have downloaded it, just open it up and hit the "Backup/Restore" button at the top of the screen. Tap the app you want to get rid of. You will probably want to back it up first, in case it ends up being integral to your phone operation, but once you have you can uninstall it from the same screen. Alternatively, you can just freeze the app, which will not free up space on your phone memory, but will keep it from running in the background and slowing your phone down. Note also that, like all these root-only options, you could seriously mess up your phone if you go too crazy, so maybe a full-phone backup is also a good choice here.
Special Thanks to LifeHacker.com