Why is my iPhone so slow? How to deal with a lagging iPhone

When you first got your iPhone, it was probably amazing. There’s even a good chance that it was the fastest device you had ever used. But as time went on, your phone started to slow down, making those newer and shinier models of iPhone seem all the more impressive. 

Well, before you run out and treat yourself to a new phone, read this article about some of the common reasons why iPhones slow down and what you can do to fix them.

Why is my iPhone slow? Possible reasons

Although it’s normal for iPhones to slow down as they get older, just because you’re not using the newest phone doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. A couple of things could be causing your iPhone to run more slowly, such as:

  1. Low storage
  2. Outdated iOS
  3. Background apps still running
  4. Buggy software
  5. Too many visual effects
  6. Safari cache too big

1. You’re running low on storage 

The less free space you have on your iPhone, the more likely it is that it will run slowly. Typically, it’s recommended that you keep about 10% of your storage free to keep things running smoothly. So if your iPhone has 128 GB, you should have about 13 GB of free space. 

Think about your phone like a room; the more stuff you have crammed in the room, the longer it will take you to move from one side to the other.

How to speed it up: Free up storage

Photo libraries are a common culprit for eating up a lot of free space on iPhones. Aside from the countless pictures you take, there may be hundreds of old screenshots or blurry photos that you’ve been meaning to sort through and clean up. 

Fortunately, you can use an app like Gemini Photos to help you quickly scan your library and tidy it up. Follow the steps below to get started.

  1. Download Gemini Photos and open it to start scanning.
  2. Tap Blurred.
  3. You’ll see all the blurry pictures in your library. If there’s a picture you want to keep, tap to remove the checkmark in the bottom corner.
  4. Tap Delete All.
  5. Tap Your Library to go back through the other categories and clean up the rest of your library.
  6. When you’re finished cleaning, open the Photos app.
  7. Tap Albums > Recently Deleted > Select > Delete All to permanently remove all of the pictures.

2. You have an outdated iOS

As Apple releases new iOS updates to fix bugs and patch security issues, app developers also update their apps to optimize performance with the new software. That means that as time goes on, if you’re not keeping your phone’s iOS up to date, it could be causing everything to run more slowly than it should.

How to make the iPhone faster: Update your iOS

Updating your iPhone’s iOS couldn’t be easier. It can all be done on your phone as long as you’re connected to Wi-Fi and power. 

While the intention is for everything to update just fine, there’s a chance you might run into a hiccup. So, before you do anything, you should make sure you have a backup of your phone to restore from. After you’ve verified your backup, you can update your phone.

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap General > Software Update > Download and Install.
  3. Follow the prompts to install the update.
How to make a slow iPhone faster: Update the iOS

3. Apps are running in the background

The more you use your phone, the more apps you’re likely to open and keep open. If an app is downloading or sending a large file while you’re doing other things on your iPhone, everything will slow down. 

How to speed up your iPhone: Close apps and stop background processes

If you’re using your phone and notice things starting to slow down, an excellent step to take is to close the open apps, but you can also limit which apps update while they’re in the background.

The more straightforward step would be to force close the apps that are open:

  1. Swipe up from the bottom and hold your finger in the middle of the screen. Note: If you have an iPhone with a home button, double press the button.
  2. Swipe up on the app cards to close them. 

If you’re experiencing lagging overall, you can stop specific apps from updating while they’re in the background.

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap General > Background App Refresh.
  3. You can select individual apps to turn off or tap Background App Refresh to set it for the entire phone.
  4. If you tap Background App Refresh, you can choose to turn it off, allow it only when on Wi-Fi, or allow it when you’re on Wi-Fi & Cellular Data.

4. Your phone needs a restart

Typically, when you finish using an app, parts of it still run on your phone so that when you open the app again, it opens back up more quickly. Well, the longer you use your iPhone without restarting it, the more apps and processes remain running in the background. It’s a good idea to get into the habit of occasionally restarting your phone. 

This is also a reasonably easy process to do. It should also be your first troubleshooting step when you notice things are acting up.

How to fix a slow iPhone: Restart it

The process for restarting your iPhone will depend on which model you have. If you have an iPhone 8 or earlier:

  1. Press and hold the Power button (either at the top or on the side).
  2. When the slider appears, drag it to the right.
  3. Once it completely shuts down, press and hold the Power button again to turn it back on.

If you have an iPhone X or newer:

  1. Press and hold the Side button and either of the Volume buttons.
  2. When the slider appears, drag it to the right.
  3. Once it completely shuts down, press and hold the Side button to turn it back on.

5. Your phone can’t support new visual effects

As new iOS versions come out, they’re being designed with fun, albeit subtle animations that help your phone come to life. The problem, however, is that they also require the newer graphics processors that Apple is putting in new iPhones, which means that if your older iPhone is still kicking, it might not be able to handle the visual effects in the software.

How to make an iPhone faster: Reduce motion and background effects 

Fortunately, you can reduce motion and background effects to help improve your iPhone’s performance.

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap Accessibility > Motion and set Reduce Motion to On. Note: On older iOS versions tap General > Accessibility > Reduce Motion.
  3. Go back to Accessibility and tap Display & Text Size.
  4. Turn on Reduce Transparency.
How to speed up a slow iPhone: Reduce visual effects

6. The Safari cache is too big 

Because Safari is one of the apps built into iOS, it can affect your phone’s overall performance when your browsing history and cache get too big. But thankfully, just like on your computer, you can clear the Safari cache on your iPhone.

How to make your iPhone faster: Clear Safari cache

You can quickly and easily clear Safari’s cache and browsing history.

  1. On your iPhone, open the Settings app.
  2. Tap Safari > Clear Website History and Data.
  3. Tap Confirm.

Even though it’s perfectly normal for your iPhone to slow down a little bit over time, there are still steps you can take to keep things running fast. The last thing you need is another reason to buy the latest iPhone. Apple already gives you plenty of reasons to do that without your current phone slowing down.

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