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Why is my phone so slow?

John Sears

John Sears


May 23, 2022


8 min read

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In the digital age, our phones are our lifelines. We use them for everything from communicating with loved ones to getting our work done. Believe it or not, 7.26 billion people (source: own and use a mobile phone – over 90% of the world's population. For that reason, 'Why is my phone so slow?' is a fairly frequent Google search.

When our phones start to slow down, it feels like everything is coming to a standstill. We can't load emails properly, our apps take forever to open, and even basic tasks like making a phone call become a challenge. Streaming Netflix or playing games is out of the question.

A number of factors can cause your phone to slow down, but don't worry – we're here to help. Stay with us to explore some of the most common reasons why your phone might be running slowly, and find out how you can speed it up again.

So, why is my phone so slow?

Before delving into some of the key reasons for phone sluggishness, it's crucial to understand exactly how a mobile phone works and why it ages over time.

Mobile phones are essentially small computers. They have a number of different hardware components, such as a processor, RAM, and storage, that all need to work together in order to run apps and processes

As we use our phones, these individual hardware components start to wear out. The processor becomes slower as it heats up, RAM starts to fill up and can't hold as much data, and storage gets cluttered with files we no longer need.

In addition, over time our phones accumulate app data, cached files, and other bits of information that take up valuable space and slow down the phone's overall performance.

It's almost like a bicycle. When you first purchase a new bike, the gears are top notch, and the chains are well-oiled. With time, however, you might leave your bike in the rain to rust or not bother to lubricate the chains. Eventually, these elements will start to wear down and the bike won't perform as well as it used to

The same is true for our phones – with age and neglect, they start to slow down. But before you go reaching for that new phone, there are a few things you can do to speed up your current one.

Key causes of a slow smartphone (and how to fix them)

Wear and tear is just one of several reasons why your phone might be running slowly. Here are four of the most common culprits:

1. Too much clutter

One of the biggest reasons for a slow phone is too much clutter. As we mentioned earlier, our phones accumulate data over time – from apps we've used to cached files and photos. This data takes up valuable storage space and processing power, which can slow down the phone and make it difficult to run apps and processes.

How to fix too much clutter

Thankfully, this issue is one of the easiest to fix. Simply delete any unused apps, cached files, and photos from your phone. You can also clear out your browser history and cookies, as well as any other unnecessary data

If you're using an Android phone, you can use the built-in storage manager to see exactly how much space each app is taking up. This will help you identify which apps to delete first.

On an iPhone, you can use the built-in 'Storage' menu to see how much storage space each app is using and how much is available overall. You can then tap on an app to see more details, including how much data it's been storing.

You can clean up clutter, offload your files to a secure cloud, and free up storage on your phone. Here’s how NordLocker can help you do that:

  • In the NordLocker app, click the Plus sign

  • Select “Upload”

  • Add the files to your cloud

Now you can safely delete files from your device to get more storage. NordLocker will sync your files across your devices, but you can download them whenever you want.

To download a file or a folder in one of your lockers, select the three dots next to it and click “Download.”

2. Overloaded random-access memory (RAM)

Have you ever made your laptop glitch out by opening too many tabs? That's because your laptop's RAM is overloaded, and your computer is running slowly as a result. The same can happen on your mobile phone.

RAM works very similarly to the short-term memory in our brains. It stores data temporarily so that the processor can access it quickly and run processes smoothly. When RAM is overloaded, however, it can't store all of the data properly and this can cause the phone to slow down.

How to fix overloaded RAM

You can take several measures to free up space in your phone's RAM and improve its performance. One is to close unused apps. You can also try turning off features like location tracking and background app refresh, which can use up RAM.

Alternatively, try a soft reset. This is a simple way to clear out your phone's RAM without having to delete any files.

  • On an iPhone: Press and quickly release the Volume up button > press and quickly release the Volume down button > press and hold the Side button until you see the Apple logo.

  • On an Android: Press and hold the Power button until the phone turns off. Wait for around ten seconds, then hold the Power button again to turn it back on.

3. Outdated software

As new versions of apps and operating systems are released, our phones can start to lag if they're still running older software. Why? Because the new software is optimized to work with the latest hardware, and our old phones may not be able to keep up.

Apple phones in particular have been known to slow down (source: or become unusable altogether after a new software update is released. This is because Apple controls both the hardware and the software of its phones, which can lead to conflicts when older software is trying to run on newer hardware.

How to fix outdated software

Old and laggy software is an easy fix – simply download the latest update for your phone's operating system or app. Doing so will bring your phone up to speed with the latest software and hardware and should improve its performance.

Of course, software updates require storage, so you'll want to clear up space on your phone before downloading (or you'll find yourself right back where you started!).

4. Faulty hardware

In some cases, a phone's sluggishness can be caused by faulty hardware. This could be anything from a broken processor to a rapidly aging battery.

How to fix faulty hardware

If you think your phone might have a battery issue, it's best to take it to a technician for repair. Hardware problems can be difficult (and expensive) to fix on your own, so it's best to leave them to the professionals. But how can you tell if your phone's hardware is to blame?

  • On an Android: Navigate to Settings > Battery > Battery Usage to check your battery health

  • On an iPhone: If your battery operation is at lower than 80 percent, the battery unit is considered to be worn out. You can check this by navigating to Settings > Battery > Battery Health.

Apple also has some tips on its website for looking after your battery:

  • Keep your iPhone half-charged when it’s stored for the long term

  • Avoid charging or leaving your iPhone in hot environments

  • Remove heat-retaining cases during charging

  • Stay up to date with the latest software

Why is my Android so slow?

Android and iPhone are the two most common types of smartphones on the market, and they both have their own unique set of problems when it comes to sluggishness.

Android phones are often slowed down by apps that are running in the background. This is because most Android phones don't have a built-in way to close apps as iOS does, so they continue to use up RAM and processing power.

In addition, Android phones are more likely to experience problems with their hardware as they age. This could be anything from a broken processor to a faulty battery.

How to fix a slow Android phone

There are a few things you can do to speed up a slow Android phone in the following ways:

  • Clear your Chrome cache and data: Tap the three-dot icon in Chrome and select “History” and “Clear browsing data”. Select the “Cached images and files“ checkbox, then “Clear data”.

  • Clear your app cache: Navigate to Settings > Storage > Internal Storage > Cached Data. Tap “OK” to clear the cache (and don't worry, you won't lose any of your app data).

  • Close unused apps: Navigate to Settings > Apps. Select apps you don't need, then tap “Force stop”.

  • Update your Android OS: Head over to Settings > System > System (Software) update.

If you're an Android user who's wondering, “Why is my phone so slow all of a sudden?“ these tips are likely to help. Good luck!

Why is my iPhone so slow?

Like Android phones, iPhones have a few issues that are unique to them when it comes to slowing down unexpectedly.

The main issue is that iOS is not as good at managing memory as Android is, which means that an iPhone can quickly become bogged down if too many apps are running in the background.

How to fix a slow iPhone

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to speed up a slow iPhone:

  • Close unused apps: Double-click the Home button or swipe up from the bottom of your screen to see all of your open apps. Swipe up on an app to close it.

  • Update your iOS software: Head over to Settings > General > Software Update. Remember to clear enough space on your phone before you update in order to avoid any potential problems.

Looking to make your iPhone speed up? Try these two tips first, then move on to more drastic measures if needed.

Why is my phone so slow? Wrap-up

If you've ever furiously typed “Why is my phone running so slow?!“ into Google, you're not alone. Phones, both Android and iPhone, can slow down for a variety of reasons, but thankfully there are some things you can do to speed them up again.

By testing out the fixes outlined on this page, you're bound to find a solution. If nothing works, it may be time for a mobile upgrade – but don't pull the trigger without exhausting our list first.

Remember to check out the NordLocker Cloud if you're struggling to let go of files. Low storage is such a pain, but NordLocker can help you free up space on your device while keeping your files safe and sound.

John Sears

John Sears

Verified author

John believes that the best things in life are simple. He uses the same approach when he’s writing about online security. John says that his #1 pet peeve is phishing scams. Ironically, his favorite non-work related activity is fishing.