How to Speed Up Your Old iPhone
How To

How to Speed Up Your Old iPhone

In an age where new iPhones are priced at over four figures, people are keeping their older iPhones around for longer. But with app developers catering to faster devices, slower models can be tempting to toss. Here’s how you can counter that by speeding up your old iPhone.

This venture is somewhat near and dear to me, because while I use an iPhone XS as my daily driver, I still have my old iPhone 6 that I sometimes use in the car for music or podcasts, as well as taking photos during DIY projects where I don’t want to grimy up my shiny, expensive model. So I’ve gotten really good at tuning my iPhone 6 to keep it snappy. Basically, anything and everything that isn’t necessarily useful and could be using up CPU resources gets the boot. Here’s what that looks like.

Get Rid of Fancy Effects

Just like speeding up an old Android phone, getting rid of needless animations and visual effects goes a long way in freeing up precious CPU cycles. 

The Reduce Motion settings in iOS

Navigate to General > Accessibility in the Settings app and select Reduce Motion. Enabling this feature gets rid of the parallax effect and replaces app-switching animations with a simple fade in-fade out.

On that same screen, you can choose whether or not to auto-play iMessage effects. As you might have guessed, you should probably disable this.

If you’re using a Dynamic wallpaper (i.e. one of Apple’s animated wallpapers), go ahead and switch to a static wallpaper by going into the Wallpapers menu from the main settings page.

Limit What Happens Behind the Scenes

Your smartphone does all kinds of stuff in the background, even when you aren’t actively using it. Maybe it’s automatically refreshing your email inbox, or grabbing your location every so often. Those moves use up precious resources, so it’s best to put a stop to them.

Background App Refresh settings in iOS

Head to Settings > General > Background App Refresh. This feature allows apps to grab new content periodically so that they’ll be all ready to go once you eventually open them. It’s convenient, but not really worth the drain on the CPU and the battery when you aren’t using those apps.

You can either disable Background App Refresh for individual apps, or disable it entirely for all apps. You can also choose to only have the feature enabled when you’re connected to Wi-Fi, which is great for when your data plan needs a diet.

Furthermore, disable location tracking for apps that don’t really need it—or, alternatively, enable it only while you’re using the app. Go into the settings and navigate to Privacy > Location Services. Select an app and choose between Never, While Using the App, and Always.

Get Rid of Apps You Don’t Need

It’s really easy for apps to get out of control on your phone, but if you want to keep your iPhone in tip-top shape, it’s best to frequently audit your apps and only have the ones installed you use every day.

Deleting an app in iOS

There are several reasons for this. One, it’s less work you have to do keeping up with apps that are using Background App Refresh. Two, it saves storage, which can slow your iPhone down if it’s close to full. And three, it provides less of a chance for any one app to bug out with memory or CPU usage (rare, but occasionally happens).

Plus, most apps have their own mobile web version that you can access from Safari, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can even turn them into pseudo apps by creating home screen shortcuts to the mobile web versions. Simply visit a web site in Safari, hit the Share button at the bottom, and select Add to Home Screen.

This saves storage space, and the mobile web versions are much less resource-intensive than the native mobile apps you can install on your iPhone—it’s a win-win.

Replace the Battery

if you’re still rocking an older iPhone and haven’t changed the battery in a few years, it could absolutely benefit from a new one. As the battery wears out, iOS will strategically throttle your iPhone’s CPU performance to avoid random shutdowns. So it’s very likely your old iPhone isn’t performing as well as it could.

Luckily, you can get that performance back just by replacing the battery—and as a bonus, you’ll get better battery life, too. It’s also cheaper than you think: Apple will charge you $49 for an older iPhone, or you can save a bit of cash and do it yourself with our Battery Fix Kits. At $30, our Fix Kits come with the replacement battery, as well as all of the basic tools and materials you’ll need to get the job done. And we throw in the step-by-step guide for free. You won’t find a better bargain anywhere else.

Perform a Good Ol’ Fashioned Reboot or Reset

Aside from all these tips, if your iPhone randomly slows down one day, there’s nothing wrong with a simple reboot to hopefully kick things back into place. And it’s the first thing I do on all of my devices when anything is being wonky.

If that doesn’t help, though—and the above tips just aren’t going far enough—you can factory reset your iPhone (Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings) if apps and other content are piling up and getting out of control. Sometimes a fresh start can be all it takes to boost the performance of an older device.

Doing all this still won’t let you play any of the newer graphic-intensive games on your older iPhone, but hopefully switching between apps and overall navigation is a bit snappier than it was before.

Title image from Yanki01/Flickr