How to Fix iPhone Slow Downs

What to do to speed up your older model Apple phone

The iPhone is known for many things, including its speed. Yet, if you use an older model iPhone, you may experience a slowdown. If you're not ready to upgrade to a newer device, this guide provides some tips for troubleshooting and fixing a slow iPhone.

Person holding phone with angry look on face
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Causes of a Slow iPhone

Older iPhones were deliberately slowed down to protect from battery problems and improve overall performance. Apple admitted as much in 2017. But this is not the only cause for a slow-moving iPhone. There's a range of other potential causes, including:

  • Age: Beyond Apple intentionally slowing down older iPhones to protect the battery, simple aging processes can slow down devices.
  • Memory loss: iPhones with full memories may be slower due to a lack of storage space.
  • Lack of updates: Out-of-date devices become slower over time.
  • Apps running in the background: An iPhone slows down other activities to compensate for apps running in the background.

How to Fix a Slow iPhone

You can use a variety of tips and tricks to speed up your device without springing for a new one.

  1. Restart the iPhone. Many people use their iPhones constantly, charging when there's a few percent left, and using it until the battery is back down again. If you haven't restarted your device in a while, close all open apps and restart it. This may speed up the device considerably.

  2. Check the iPhone's battery health. If you have an iPhone 6 or newer, with iOS 11.3 or newer, check the battery health. If it's low, this may be the cause of the speed issue, which means it's time for a replacement.

  3. Update iOS. Check and see if an update is available for the device. New updates often fix bugs and other problems that may slow down an iPhone.

    The newest iOS, iOS 13, is only available for iPhone 6s and newer. Older devices can't update further at this time.

  4. Update apps. Although apps can be updated automatically, it's best to see if you have any that are falling behind, causing lags.

  5. Turn off Background App Refresh. Stop apps from using data in the background of the device. If you have an iPhone with iOS 13, use Low Data Mode to restrict apps from running when you're not using those apps. Without this extra power being used, your iPhone may regain some speed.

  6. Clear the iPhone cache. A slow iPhone may be bogged down with a slew of temporary files. To delete these files, clean up the cache.

  7. Free up storage space. An iPhone filled to the brim with apps, photos, and more runs slower than normal. Remove apps you no longer use and move photos and other media to iCloud for safekeeping.

  8. Reduce iPhone visual effects. The Motion setting, as well as iPhone transparency, may improve visual performance. However, these features can also cause older model iPhones to slow down. Reduce the motion and transparency within the settings and see how it affects the device.

  9. Change location settings. With iOS 11 and later, change the location settings to While Using the App, which only allows the app to know your location when it's in use. This change can save power and help bring back the iPhone's speed.

  10. Clear browser cookies. You can also free up space by clearing the Safari cookies on an iPhone. Clearing cookies doesn't change your autofill information.

  11. Restore the iPhone to factory settings. A full restore may fix speed concerns within a device. Still, this should only be used as a final step.

    Restoring an iPhone deletes all the data from the device. Create a backup of your iPhone so that you don't lose important information and files.

  12. Contact Apple Support. If all else fails, there may be a problem with a component inside the iPhone. Reach out to Apple Support by starting a request online or taking the device to a nearby Apple Store with a Genius Bar.

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