Angry man on smartphone

(Photo by pathdoc on Shutterstock)

SAN FRANCISCO — Smartphones can make everyday life pretty convenient, but they’re an absolute nightmare when they start to slow down. From apps not working to videos not loading, plenty of smartphone users have waited through the “spinning wheel of death.” So, what exactly causes our devices to slow down, and is there a way to fix it without buying a brand-new phone?

Trevor Cooke, a privacy expert at Earthweb, shared three of the main reasons smartphones start to slow down over the years. Surprisingly, Cooke tells StudyFinds that one of the biggest causes of this slowdown is actually supposed to help keep our devices working smoothly!

Software updates and compatibility issues

It turns out that installing software updates doesn’t work out as intended when you have an older phone model. Although updates are supposed to improve performance and fix bugs, continually allowing your phone to install these updates can literally kill your older devices.

“New software updates are often optimized for the latest hardware, which can strain older devices, leading to decreased performance,” Cooke says in a statement to StudyFinds.

How can you fix this?

Although installing software updates is usually necessary to keep your phone running, you might be able to skip some if you have an older phone. If you want to keep your current device, Cooke recommends that you do some homework before hitting the “install” button on major software updates.

“Do some research online before you download the update – if it’s causing a massive slowdown on older devices, someone will usually have posted something about it,” the tech expert adds.

Installing Software Update
It turns out that installing software updates doesn’t work out as intended when you have an older phone model. (Credit: Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock)

Battery degradation

Another major problem for older phones is, unsurprisingly, older batteries. Over time, the charge a smartphone battery can hold will naturally decrease. A weaker battery leads to lower performance and shorter battery life.

“As the battery ages, it may struggle to supply enough power to the device during peak usage, leading to performance throttling,” Cooke explains.

How can you fix this?

The best thing to do is to be very strict when it comes to charging your device. Avoid extreme temperatures and leaving your device in the charger too long when it’s already full. This can accelerate battery degradation. You can also use your phone’s battery-saving features and adjust its settings to conserve power.

Hardware limitations

Lastly, hardware limitations play a key role in slowing down older phones. While the newest smartphone models on the market boast faster processors, more RAM, and advanced features, older models will likely struggle to meet the current bar for “top performance.” Also, more modern apps and software will require more power, which older devices won’t have. Simply put, older phones become incompatible with newer features built for this year’s devices.

How can you fix this?

Cooke notes that there are a couple of ways to keep an older model phone around a little longer despite its limitations. Start by adjusting the device’s performance settings to prioritize speed over visual effects. You can also disable unnecessary background processes, animations, and widgets. All of this helps to free up system resources and improve responsiveness.

It’s also important to regularly clean out unnecessary files, apps, pictures, and videos to free up storage space. Cloud storage services or external drives also help people offload data that they want to preserve but don’t have the space for.

“Taking proactive measures to maintain your device and optimize its performance can significantly mitigate the effects of aging hardware and software,” Cooke tells StudyFinds.

About Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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