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Were you one of those people that bought a Android phone a few years back and thought the phone was going to last you at least three years, only to find out that the phone became sluggish, apps don’t run on it and the battery barely lasts a few hours?
While phones running Froyo/Gingerbread, with 256 MB of RAM and a battery of just 1300 mAh, were considered top of the line just a few years ago, the world has moved on with dual-cores running 1 GHz processors becoming the norm. RAM has also moved up to 512 as the default, with 1GB and 2GB making an appearance – across price points. 3G support is now available on almost all phones launched these days.
These phones still work fine, but apps are hungrier and so is the network.
This is 2013 and the fight back to planned obsolescence has already started! So let’s try to keep those old Androids humming for a bit more, at least.
There are various ways to improve the performance and keep your faithful Android running for a few months more while you manage to scrape money to get that latest shiny new phone. These tips can also be used improve the performance of Android phones bought nowadays.
Tips to save battery
One of the first things you will notice go bad in an old phone is its battery life. A smartphone that use to last for a day won’t even get to midday in an old phone. This has mostly got to do with charging cycles and the life of the battery. Also newer apps will consume more processing power and hence drain the battery faster.
Turn off sensors: The first thing you should do to conserve battery is turn off the sensors and WiFI connectivity when not in use. You can find the toggles to these in Settings of your phone. The accelerometer, GPS, WiFi and even keeping data on consumes a lot of battery.
Also keep a keen eye on those display settings and turn off auto-brightness and keep the brightness at as low as possible.
Remove Widgets/Live Wallpapers: Other than visual appeal, live wallpapers don’t serve much purpose. They just eat up memory and battery. Widgets while being useful to view information at a glance are one the main culprits when it comes to bad battery life. Remove the widgets from the home screen and instead check it once in awhile when needed.
Install an app to manage your Android phone: Our recommendation – Android Assistant
These apps will help you efficiently manage your Android phone. They help you improve your phone’s performance, speeds it up and also saves battery. You will be able to monitor the status of your CPU, memory and battery. These apps usually come with a process manager and a cache cleaner to keep track of what is running on your phone. There will also be recommended battery saving settings and a battery use monitor. Some of these apps will also have App 2 SD and App backup and restore options.
Tips to save space
Move Apps to SD cards: If and whenever possible, move and save apps and all other content on the SD card. This will free up internal memory which will have your phone running more smoothly.
Root your phone and install a CM Gingerbread ROM: Please note that this should only be done by experienced users as it involves a bit of technical know-how and you risk bricking your phone.
A ROM is the system that your device runs on, and by rooting your phone you will be able to flash a custom ROM. Custom ROMs from CyanogenMod are the most popular and are present for most popular Android phone. Before you do anything to your phone, the first thing to do is check if your phone is supported by CM.
The first step to installing a ROM is root your device, which will give administrative powers on your device. After this you will have to replace the recovery. The recovery is a little program that you can boot into before the operating system loads so that you can execute recovery-type actions.
The next step is to download the necessary files that you’ll need. This will be the appropriate ROM for your device, the gapps package, and other possible packages such as updated radio drivers.
Finally, you’ll need to boot into recovery, and use it to erase your device and then flash .zip files to it. Make sure that you also install everything in the correct order, as not following the suggested order may brick your device. Once all packages have been installed, reboot the device, wait a couple of minutes, and you should now be in CyanogenMod.
The above steps are just the rough outline of what one needs to do to install a custom ROM. We recommend that you research the instructions for your particular device before you decide to root your device.
Once you root your phone there are various things you can do with it, like overclocking the phone’s processor. Overclocking will require you to install a custom kernel.
One of the best parts of rooting is you can uninstall all the crapware that came with the phone with apps like Titanium Backup.
Find leaner replacements for commonly used apps:
Most apps these days are updated to take advantage of the latest features of both the OS and also the hardware. But there are some app developers which still keep phones with low specifications in mind while building an app. These apps not only work better but provide you with a much more fluid experience.
Task List: Are you a person that loves to keep track of your task. Then Task List is for you. It is a light-weight app that lets you add tasks by voice, edit or delete tasks using simple gestures, write notes and even share them with your friends.
Pansi: This is one the fastest SMS applications on Android and come with additional features like a SMS scheduler and ability to create folders. You can also have your messages displayed in a conversation style.
FB Plus for Facebook: This one is for all those who are addicted to Facebook. The Facebook app for Android is a hassle to use even on a high-end smartphone. FB Plus for Facebook. It offers full access to all the important features of the official app, just faster and easier to use. And the best part the app is just 121 kb so won’t eat up much space on your phone.
Camera FX: This app can replace the default camera app on your phone, while at the same time adding new and additional features. It adds pinch to zoom on phones that don’t have it and one can also customize hardware buttons such as making volume buttons to control zoom and trackball to snap shots. You can also take a picture by talking or clapping. There are also various filters to process your pictures also.
Opera Mini: This is one of the fastest and lightest browsers we have come across. Using unique compression technology it is able to reduce data costs by up to 90%.
Change the launcher on your phone
After looking at the same phone day after day we don’t blame you if you get bored after some time. While you can’t do much about hardware other than change covers, there is a lot you can do with the way the software looks. The first thing you can do is change the launcher on your Android phone. Custom launchers can customize the way your phone looks and runs. It also gives you control over your own interface, from customizing the look and number of homescreens to application dock behavior. We recommend LauncherPro which is more often than not faster than the stock launcher.
These are just some tips to get your old Android phone, running just a bit smoother. Most of these can be applied to even phones purchased more recently and we guarantee that you will see an improved performance.