How To Speed Up Your Android: Remove Unused Apps


My extended family is quickly becoming an Android family. At each gathering we compare what phones everyone else is using and Bump our updated contact information to each other. After a little while I noticed a trend: even with my aging G1, my Android was much faster than everyone else’s, including a pair of Motorola Droids.

That just didn’t make sense. Sure, I was using CyanogenMod ROM with a swap partition which speed things up considerably, but could Cyanogen really have made the relatively slow G1 outperform the super-fast Droid?

It turns out my suspicions were correct: it wasn’t the custom ROM that was responsible for the dramatic speed increase, it was the amount of apps they had installed that caused their speed decrease.

There has been so much advertising about “apps” that when people get their new phone they want to see what apps are available. They head out to the Market and start downloading apps. They run the apps a couple of times, but then forget about it. There is sits occupying space.

Back in the “olden days” of Windows Mobile there was no Market. If you wanted an app, you had to know about it, then go find it, then install it via ActiveSync on your desktop PC when your handheld was cradled (nowadays you can skip the ActiveSync bit and install via .cab file, of course). Today, you tap an icon, do a search, and install. It’s easy – maybe too easy.

I sat down with one relative who was complaining about the slowness of her Android, opened the Market App, and tapped over to Downloads. I spent the next 15 minutes asking her about every single app that she had installed, when the last time was that she used it, and if she could live without it. We were able to uninstall over 40 apps. After a reboot her phone (an HTC Sprint Hero running Android 1.5) was significantly faster – she claims it’s faster now than when she first bought it.

Of course that’s only part of the reason for the speed increase. A pleasant side-effect of removing all those apps was the corresponding removal of their corresponding icons from the Home screens.

I’ve been able to replicate this with three handsets now, two G1’s (one stock, one with a custom ROM), and the HTC Sprint Hero mentioned above. (I’m waiting for the next family gathering to try it out on the Droids.)

How about you?

What Android do you have and how is its speed compared to the first few days that you used it? How many apps do you have installed? How many do you use on a regular basis? How many icons do you have on your Home screens? How many widgets are you running? Did your Android speed up after uninstalling infrequently used apps?

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About The Author
Joe Levi
Joe graduated from Weber State University with two degrees in Information Systems and Technologies. He has carried mobile devices with him for more than a decade, including Apple's Newton, Microsoft's Handheld and Palm Sized PCs, and is Pocketnow's "Android Guy". By day you'll find Joe coding web pages, tweaking for SEO, and leveraging social media to spread the word. By night you'll probably find him writing technology and "prepping" articles, as well as shooting video. Read more about Joe Levi here.