Tech

How To Make An Old, Slow Phone Feel Like New Again

Just like the day you got it
IMAGE Alex Holyoake/Unsplash
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It's sad but inevitable that your once-pristine smartphone will slowly morph into a grimy, slow device unrecognizable from the cutting-edge gadget you bought home from the store. Here's how to get your phone back to its best, inside and out.

Reducing app clutter

Aside from installing any Android or iOS updates as soon as they come down the pike (unless your phone is very old), the best way of keeping your phone clutter-free is to remove the apps you're not really using—not only does it free up some precious storage space, it can also improve performance, as your handset has fewer apps and processes to worry about.

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It's time for a serious audit of what you do and don't need on your phone: That smash hit game you last played in 2015? That social messaging app all your friends have left? The good news is Android and iOS remember the apps you've paid for, so you can always install them again—just make sure you're not deleting any important data along with the app itself.

On iOS, press and hold an app icon until it shakes, then tap the small cross. On (stock) Android, press and hold on an icon in the app drawer and drag it up to the Uninstall link at the top (if you're not using stock Android, your phone will have something very similar). For a closer look at which apps are taking up room on your phone, head to General, Storage & iCloud Usage, then Manage Storage on an iPhone, or the Apps menu in Settings on an Android device.

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Remember that with a lot of apps, including Facebook, Gmail, and Twitter, there are equivalent websites you can visit in your mobile phone web browser, if you need to. As an added bonus, you might notice better battery performance the fewer apps you have weighing down your phone, just don't expect access if you don't have service.

More smartphone decluttering

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Getting rid of unused apps is a good start in tidying up your phone, but you can go further. Photos and videos are probably the next biggest space hogs on your handset and both Google and Apple provide built-in ways of freeing up some room—and you might not even have to pay for the privilege.

Google Photos, which is available on both iOS and Android, will upload all of your pictures and video clips to the cloud for safe keeping, and then delete the originals to free up space. If you're happy with a small amount of resizing (down to 16 megapixels for photos and 1080p for videos) then you can store an unlimited number of files for free; otherwise, you can pay for space on the web if you use up the 15GB you get for free.

Apple has the iCloud Photo Library, which works in a similar way, though you only get 5GB of room for free. Once your pictures and videos are on the web, you can delete the originals to save space on your iPhone—head to Settings then Photos & Camera, and tap on the Optimize Storage button to keep only the most recent pictures on your iPhone. Other photos in iCloud are still shown as thumbnails, and can be downloaded in a tap.

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For the ultimate in decluttering, you can wipe your phone back to its factory settings and start again from scratch—just make sure you've backed up everything important before you do so. You can find full instructions online from Apple and Google.

Cleaning your smartphone

Thanks to all the surfaces and skin it comes into contact with—not to mention the bottom of your pockets—your phone is probably one of the dirtiest gadgets you own, whether you can see the grime or not.

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An inexpensive microfiber cloth is usually the material of choice for phone cleaning, as it won't scratch the screen on your device while it picks up dirt and dust. For displays that are a little more worse for wear, you can add a small amount of water—some guides recommend adding some alcohol to the mix but this can damage your phone. Soap should be avoided for the same reason.

A damp microfiber cloth should be enough to take care of most of the dirt on your phone—fortunately, a lot of handsets are now waterproof, making your job easier—but some cotton buds can dig out dirt from nooks and crannies. Again, add a few drops of water if you need to. If you're really struggling with buttons and holes then some tape or a quick blast of compressed air might be enough to clean out the muck.

You can pick up cheap screen cleaner kits for the job that include cloths and a solution, and beyond that—if you're really serious about killing off the bacteria on your phone—sanitizing docks are available that blast your handset with ultraviolet light. The light frequency kills off the germs you can't see and leaves your phone fresh and clean. And of course, if you don't want to do all that, you can just pick up a fresh new case.

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This story originally appeared on EPopular Mechanics.

* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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