More than ever before, iPhones are much more than phones — they’re small computers we keep in our pockets. We use them to book flights, buy concert tickets, keep track of our kids, Zoom with our boss, video chat with our doctor, navigate our routes, calculate our calories and our steps, and so on. The list is endless.
These phones do a lot for us, and based on the price tags on the latest models, they’re also an investment. It makes sense to protect them with cases and screen protectors, and to be mindful of exposing them to heat and water, but there are other things we can do to keep our iPhones performing at their best, too. If yours is beginning to seem a bit sluggish, check out this list of 12 ways to improve its performance.
1. Update to the latest iOS version
This is the most basic step, and the most important, in part because it helps protect your device from security breaches. If your iPhone’s software is up to date, the device will perform at its best. Not all of us are conscientious about installing the latest updates, but you can make it less of a lift by going to Settings > General > Software Update and selecting ”On” for Automatic Updates.
You may be reluctant to update, and want to wait a few weeks after a new iteration is introduced so any bugs can be worked out. According to Forbes, though, it’s best to fight “update fatigue” and update right away. Update 16.2, which was released in December, fixed 35 security vulnerabilities.
2. Check your storage space
Compared to the older models with 16GB of storage, the newer iPhones may feel like they have unlimited storage space, but that’s not true. Over time, iPhones can get cluttered with unused apps, photos and other files. Apple says its phones need a certain amount of available storage to run properly.
“For best performance, try to maintain at least 1GB of free space,” the company says. “If your available storage is consistently less than 1GB, your device might slow down.”
You can go to Settings > General > iPhone Storage for your device’s recommendation.
3. Turn off unnecessary features
If you’re home or at work and have a strong Wi-Fi signal, using Wi-Fi instead of cellular data will help your iPhone perform better. That said, when you’re out and about, you can improve your iPhone’s performance by turning off unnecessary features such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and Location Services.
Go to the Settings menu and select the features you want to turn off ― but also, get in the habit of turning the Wi-Fi back on when it’s available.
4. Disable background app refresh
Sometimes you may find that your battery drains quicker than usual, even if you’re not doing much with your phone. One likely reason is that you have apps running in the background. If these apps map or geolocate you, they’ll wear down your battery and make your phone run slower.
You can manually swipe up and close apps you aren’t using, or you can go to Settings > General > Background App Refresh and turn it off for all the apps you don’t need running in the background.
5. Adjust visual effects and animations
On older devices, reducing the motion of visual effects and animation can free up a lot of processing power. If you need more speed from your phone, head to Settings > General > Accessibility and then scroll down to Reduce Motion. Turning this setting off should lead to an immediate reduction in processor demand.
6. Keep your apps updated
You might think you download an app once and that’s it, but outdated apps can contribute to slow performance on your iPhone (in addition to posing security risks). It’s essential to regularly check for iOS system updates, as well as updates from individual apps. Apple makes it easy to update apps. Go to the App Store on your phone and you’ll see Updates in the sidebar. From there, you can select individual apps to update or you can choose to Update All.
7. Delete or offload any unused apps
There’s no need to hold on to apps you don’t actually use, and deleting unused apps can help keep your phone running efficiently. You can go through your phone and remove any app you don’t regularly access by holding down the icon until it wiggles.
For a deeper look into your usage, you can go to Settings > General > iPhone Storage to review a list that shows you the last time you used each app and how much storage each one consumes, which will help you decide what you want to offload or delete.
Offloading means you retain the documents and data related to the app while freeing up storage space by removing the app itself. It’s a good option if you’re not currently using an app much but may want it in the future. Just select the app from the list and choose the “Offload” button.
If you don’t plan to revisit the app, you can fully delete it to remove its related data, too.
This one is tricky, because it puts the onus on you to remember to back up your phone. But having your phone set to automatically back up to iCloud takes resources from your device, and for many of us, it’s not always necessary. Go to Settings > iCloud > Backup, and switch the backup mode from “Automatic” to “Manual.” This will help you take better control of when and how often your phone is backing up, improving performance in the long run. Just don’t forget to back up your information!
9. Enable Low Power Mode only when necessary
You may have noticed that your iPhone switches to Low Power Mode when your battery drops below 20%. This is a good feature for extending your battery life, but it’s not great for performance. “Low Power Mode disables some important features and slows down your iPhone,” said iOS expert Monserrat Cancino of Tech Detective. “Only use if your battery is below 20%.”
10. Avoid extreme temperatures
If you bring your iPhone on outdoor adventures where temperatures are extreme, it affects your device’s performance and permanently shortens battery life. “This happens because your device needs to work much harder to regulate its internal temperature,” Cancino said. “Try using your iPhone only when the temperature is between 32 degrees to 95 degrees Fahrenheit, and don’t leave it outside if it’s below freezing or very hot.”
If you want to bring your phone to the ski slopes, it’s probably best to get a locker and leave it in the lodge. If you bring your iPhone to the beach, keep it in the shade and as cool as possible.
11. Check Location Services
When you download a new app, you’ve probably noticed that it asks if it can have permission to track your location. Although this has some benefits in terms of convenience, it can also reduce your battery life and affect your iPhone’s performance. Besides, for security reasons, you don’t need any app to track you all the time.
“If you notice that your battery is draining faster than normal, go to Settings > Privacy & Security > Location Services and change your apps’ permission to track you,” Cancino suggested. Select “While Using” as often as possible so your apps don’t track your location all the time, and see if that helps your iPhone’s performance.
12. Restart your iPhone
Sometimes, the best fix is the simplest, most obvious one. If all else fails, a simple restart may help improve the performance of your device.