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Why do phones get so much slower over time?

Why do phones get so much slower over time?

If you have ever owned a smartphone, which is almost a certainty for most people nowadays, you have probably noticed that they get noticeably slower and less responsive over time. So, let’s take a look at why that is. At the sound of what I’ve just said, many people will jump up and shout “planned obsolescence”, but we’ll leave that for the end of the article. Right now, we’re going to look at the actual technical reasons for this apparent decrease in performance. Let’s dig in.


First of all, the hardware in your phone is most likely just as powerful as it was when you first bought it.

What has changed is the software. You see, a lot of apps don’t actually close when you exit them and instead continue running in the background. In this state, they use less RAM and processing power, but they are nonetheless taking up a percentage of those valuable system resources. The catch here is that, when you buy your phone, it doesn’t come with a lot of apps installed.

Sure enough, you have the usual youtube, Facebook, and any other software that your phone carrier saw fit to put on your device. However, this is nothing compared to the stuff that most people end up installing on their phones over time. And, as with anything, these background processes, while they may start small, can have a pretty big impact on your phone’s performance if you allow them to build up.

But let’s assume that you are a knowledgeable and careful phone user who likes to meticulously manage their installed applications. This may will still not save you. Mobile technology is constantly advancing, with faster and faster processors, graphics chips, and phones getting more and more RAM memory and storage space. This means that newer phones will undoubtedly have superior performance compared to your 1 or 2-year-old device.

And, while it may seem that this should in no way affect you, that is not quite true, because apps on your device and even the operating system (Android or iOS) will keep receiving updates. Sadly, those updates are designed with newer and faster phones in mind and might not be optimized for slightly older and slower devices such as yours. This means that they might use a bigger percentage of your phone’s resources, consequently not running as effortlessly as before.

One other thing working against you is the actual storage space on your phone. You see, phones use NAND Flash memory for their storage, which might sound familiar if you know a thing or two about PC solid-state drives. In fact, your phone’s storage bares a lot of similarities to those SSD’s, which is great, because that means that it’s really blazing fast.

However, another important thing that you have to keep in mind about SSDs is that, due to the way that they store data, they tend to get slower and slower the closer they get to being full. And, while that may not be that big of an issue for phones with 64 or 128GB of storage, those stuck with 16GB phones may end up constantly having their storage space almost but not quite full, thus making their phones feel a lot slower.


So what can you do?

Well, there’s a few things.

  • First of all, if you notice that you have installed apps that you’re not using, uninstall them and don’t let them build up.
  • Secondly, clean your phone every once in a while. And by that, I don’t mean taking a vacuum cleaner to it. What I mean is clearing up your storage space.
  • Delete the cache memory that has built up, back your photos up to your computer or to a service such as google photos and then delete them from your phone, remove any files that are no longer needed or that have been left behind after an app uninstall and so on.

If all else fails, you can just back up your contacts and data and then perform a factory data reset, which ought to make your phone speedy once more. And now, here’s the thing that everyone thinks is happening but no manufacturers have admitted to. Or at least not until recently, but more on that later.

Many people claim that phone manufacturers artificially limit their older phones’ performance through software updates to make people buy their newer products. And, in a turn of fate that shocked absolutely nobody, this has so far been vehemently denied by phone manufacturers. And then Apple pulled an Apple and, after being asked by an online news publication about their odd slow-downs, admitted to throttling devices with older batteries.

What seems pretty odd is that in December 2017, just over a year after its release, they started doing the same to the iPhone 7, with them openly admitting that they were planning to continue doing this to newer phones as time went on. At first, this seems very slimy and also quite stupid. However, there are actual technical reasons behind it. What may or may not come as a surprise, is that these reasons just make the whole situation look slimmer and more stupid.


Here’s what is actually going on:

Lithium-Ion batteries degrade overtime when it comes to the peak power that they can supply.

What Apple was doing was it was running its phones so close to the battery’s power ceiling in order to be able to claim that they had the fastest phone, that the moment the battery started wearing down, it could no longer support the phone’s power demands. Therefore, the phone would suffer unexpected shutdowns when the battery failed to deliver the expected juice to the components.

To avoid this, apple slows down their phones after a while to make them use less power. The stupid slimy thing about this whole thing is that Apple is advertising and selling their products as the best and fastest on the market, knowing full well that that is only going to be true for a few months to a year because the phone’s speeds aren’t sustainable and they would be hammering the performance of the same phone soon enough in order to make sure that this artificial marketing boost doesn’t lead to device malfunctions.

So, thanks to apple for this one and also to any other manufacturers who are doing it and had enough marketing brains not to disclose it to the full public. So, I really do hope you found this article helpful then gice it a share and comment below.

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