How to Manage Bloatware on Your Android Device

Get those pre-loaded apps off your smartphone

Samsung Galaxy S6

Kārlis Dambrāns / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Bloatware—apps pre-installed on your phone by the operating system, hardware manufacturer, or carrier, which you can't uninstall—is a significant pain in the you-know-what. It's frustrating to be stuck with apps you don't ever use, that take up space on your phone and even run in the background, stealing your battery life and slowing down your smartphone. Android bloatware is especially egregious. So is there anything to be done about this? Thankfully, there are ways that you can remove or disable bloatware, some more difficult than others.

The directions below should apply no matter who made your Android phone: Samsung, Google, Huawei, Xiaomi, etc.

Rooting Your Phone

If you've ever even thought about it, you know that removing bloatware is a considerable benefit of rooting your phone. When you root your phone, you get full control over it so that you can install and remove apps with relative ease. Once you root, you can install apps, like System App Remover, designed to clean out bloatware. You just have to be comfortable with the rooting process, which is somewhat complicated and has some drawbacks, such as voiding your smartphone's warranty.

System App Remover for Android

As I've recommended before, it's important to weigh the benefits of rooting against the disadvantages. If you decide to root your smartphone, know that it's not a very difficult process. Once your smartphone is rooted, you can remove any app you want, making space for the apps you enjoy using.

Disabling Unwanted Apps

So maybe you don't want to root your smartphone. Fair enough. In many cases, you can disable bloatware apps, which prevents it from updating, running in the background, and generating notifications. It's worth also rolling any unwanted apps back to its original version, as any updates may have increased the app's size. 

Disable an app on Android

To disable an app, go to Settings > Apps & notifications > See all ## apps. Select the app, and press Disable. Unfortunately, this option isn't always available; sometimes the button is greyed out. In that case, unless you want to root your phone, you'll have to settle for turning off notifications.

How to Avoid Android Bloatware

Much of the bloatware you find on your phone is from either your carrier or the manufacturer of your phone, or in the case of Android, the creator of the operating system. That's changing, though, as we've seen with Google's Pixel series and unlocked smartphones from manufacturers including Nokia offering a pure Android experience.

At the same time, while Motorola's Z line of smartphones offers a near-pure Android experience, the Verizon versions are stuffed with pre-installed apps. However, some Nokia and HTC U phones feature the pure Android One operating system.

The best way to fight bloatware is to avoid it in the first place and invest in a pure Android experience. Here's hoping the wireless carriers will come to their senses and stop trying to push unwanted apps on us.