The smartphone slows down, glitches and works poorly – crooked hands or is it outdated?


One of the most common complaints that we find in letters and comments is a complaint about the speed of the smartphone after a while. As in any issue, complainants cannot achieve one hundred percent support for their point of view, other people answer them that everything is in order for them and a stormy polemic arises. The question of why Android smartphones can slow down and work not as smoothly as on the first day of their life is multifaceted. Although it comes down to flexibility, sometimes unnecessary, Android and the user’s ability to interfere with the system. If you adhere to the point of view that the best of the world and other people know what and how is happening in your phone, and it should work regardless of what you do with it, then you should not read the text further. It is impossible to convince you, and it is not necessary, the Dunning-Kruger effect in this case is fully manifested. For the rest I will try to tell you what the problems can be and what can be done with them.

The psychological effect of obsolescence – is there or not

When we buy a smartphone, we expect it to be fast, the interface is responsive, and these characteristics will stay that way for years to come. Surprisingly, people hardly distinguish between inexpensive smartphones and flagships, it seems to them that everything should work instantly, both in high-end and budget models. Alas, this is not so and cannot be so, the hardware characteristics, the amount of RAM, the type of memory used and much more differ. Therefore, I can immediately say that comparing a budget smartphone with a mid-range model or a flagship will show these differences, they are present and visible in the speed of the interface, launching third-party applications. It’s funny that there are people who deny such a difference and believe that in flagships they take money for air, but in the middle segment they get the right price / quality ratio. Rather, in the flagships, we see excess performance for a wide range of tasks and a large reserve for the future, the absence of rapid obsolescence. Such smartphones are bought for a long time.

For example, we can take a smartphone with 3 GB of RAM, a budget graphics accelerator and see how it behaves when launching “heavy” applications, for example, XNUMXD games. Most of the games will start and it will be even more or less comfortable to play in them, but the graphics will not run at maximum settings, and the screens of such devices will not stretch such pictures. What will happen in a year with such a smartphone, when more resource-demanding games appear? Its capabilities will not be enough for them and you will not even be able to launch them, which will create a feeling of obsolescence.

Let’s take a middle segment model. Usually there is a better chipset, faster processor and a different type of memory, and the volume starts from 4 GB. Today, all games are also launched here, their quality is slightly better. What will happen in a year when the next generation of games arrives? Most likely they can be launched and they will be playable, but without maximum settings. Conventionally, we can say that such a model will support new applications and games for about two years, after which the first signs will begin to appear, applications that will work slowly (but they can be launched!). The reason will be that in these two years the market will go ahead quickly and the possibilities of smartphones will increase.

We look at the flagship. Within three to four years, you will be able to run any applications you want, there will be no problems with them. It is possible that in some applications the speed of calculations will not be maximum, but certainly at the level of the models of the middle segment that will be on the market at that moment. The flagship remains the flagship even several years later.

The effect of obsolescence directly follows from human psychology, we get used to the device and it often seems to us that it started to work slowly, we want something new and we need to find reasons for this. The most obvious reason for dealing with the internal toad is to convince yourself that the old device is slow! The stereotype says that all new devices must be fast, otherwise they would not be new, right?

Recently I had a pre-existing dispute with a friend, he used the same MacBook Pro as mine (late 2013 model) and changed it to a new MacBook Pro this year. His delight was endless – a new laptop, instant application opening and a responsiveness that he had never seen before! I doubted that he was objective and a heated argument ensued, in which an old MacBook was taken out and we just had fun by launching different applications, switching between them and doing simple, standard operations. The configurations of both machines were more or less comparable, the new machine has a little more RAM and one version is newer than macOS.

The result puzzled my friend, it turned out that the new MacBook Pro does not outperform its old man in the speed of work, they were the same! In some problems, the gain was in a couple of seconds, but against the general background it was invisible. It turns out that a seven-year-old computer worked as fast as a new one, but the perception was radically different. For smartphones, this factor certainly plays exactly the same role, by default we believe that new models work faster than old ones and do not even try to compare them with each other. A stereotype of perception to be reckoned with.

When talking about obsolescence for smartphones, I usually draw a table to show how long a particular model will meet your needs.

(in years)
Actual time
(in years)
Budget smartphone
(up to 10 thousand rubles)
1,5 1,2
Budget +
(from 10 to 20 thousand rubles)
1,8 2,2
Medium segment
(from 20 to 30 thousand rubles)
2 2,1
Medium +
(from 30 to 50 thousand rubles)
1,7 2,9
flag officer
(from 50 to 100 thousand rubles)
3 3,2
Flagship +
(from 100 thousand rubles and more)
4 3,4
Source: Mobile Research Group © 2019

The numbers in the table are not speculative, we assessed obsolescence as part of a large study where we looked at buyers and when they started looking for a replacement for their previous smartphone and what category of devices it belonged to at the time of purchase. Cases of broken, stolen or lost devices are outlined. The worst situation is with the budget segment of up to 10 thousand rubles, satisfaction with such smartphones is lower than for other price segments, and every month it falls more and more. This can be linked to modest technical characteristics, limitations that users see in everyday life. And therefore, they have a desire to change their devices for something more interesting, faster. These buyers are of the greatest interest to retail, as they are willing to pay at least two times the cost of their previous smartphone, automatically jump to the Budget + segment or even the Medium segment.

There are very different consumers in the budget segment, there are those who only call with a smartphone, do not use data transmission. For them there is no concept of obsolescence, and the term of use is approaching 4.5 years! That is, this is a smartphone resource selected to the last drop, the replacement occurs at the time of the final death of the battery. Few extend battery life by replacing the battery.

But most replace their smartphones quickly enough, so the actual use time is less than the obsolescence period, this is a characteristic of this segment. In subsequent segments, there are no such anomalies, with the exception of the most expensive segment from 100 thousand rubles and more. There is a small segment of consumers who change their smartphones once a year or two, it is constant and therefore affects the actual time of use, reducing it.

Buyers of mid-range smartphones and flagships can be called fully realistic, their expectations for the lifespan of a smartphone and how they use it more or less coincide in everyday life. But those who buy smartphones in the Medium + segment end up unhappy. They want more opportunities, they look and lick their lips at new items, but the inner toad does not allow them to fork out for a new device. Calculating the index of satisfaction (happiness from using a smartphone), we get a minimum value for these buyers, even users of budget smartphones treat them better.

As you can see, this is a story about our expectations and how we see them, what we expect from our smartphones at the time of purchase and over time. With the right choice, you will not miss the mark with your smartphone, obsolescence will meet your inner expectations. And therefore, the choice must be approached responsibly, not to let this matter take its course.

The real reasons why an Android smartphone can slow down

It is impossible to argue with the fact that Android smartphones can slow down, these are the most advanced devices on the planet and they allow their users to configure themselves so that they will slow down, freeze and work incorrectly. Everything is in your hands, and if you want to make them behave like this out of knowledge or happy ignorance, then you can do it.

From time to time receiving letters in the style “you are lying, my smartphone slows down and glitches” I meet with their authors, for me this is part of the work and a desire to understand the reasons for what is happening – who is to blame, the manufacturer or the playful hands of the user. All owners of smartphones costing 20 thousand rubles or more (in today’s prices) are 99% to blame, and the manufacturer is in no way to blame, and it can be any company – Samsung, Sony, Honor, Xiaomi, and so on. Showing on their smartphones what they are doing wrong and why their device slows down so much, I encounter a very strange reaction in almost half of the cases, “I don’t care, I’m a user and I don’t have to think about anything, the smartphone must work so that I can I didn’t do it, and no matter how I cripple it ”. When asked how these people drive cars without wheels, for some reason they are sincerely offended.

I’ll try to talk about the most popular problems that I see on people’s smartphones and how they can be solved.

A thousand apps or more – no memory

I can safely call myself a “heavy” user, I have a couple of dozen programs that are necessary in my daily work (VPN, Slack, Meet and further down the list), they are extremely far from ordinary consumers. In total, my working smartphone has about 400 applications, of which I use all more or less often. During the day, this is a dozen applications. And my example is completely atypical for using a smartphone, I am an active user.

The smartphone slows down, glitches and works poorly - crooked hands or is it outdated?The smartphone slows down, glitches and works poorly - crooked hands or is it outdated?

People-great-app-gatherers amaze me with the way they collect software they don’t need. Someone is a subscriber of mailings in which they talk about the offers of the day in the Play Store, when some applications are handed out for free and they are greedy for free downloads. I’ll tell you the secret by downloading a free application, it is not at all necessary to leave it in the smartphone’s memory, you can delete it and reinstall it if necessary. Surprisingly, people do not use such applications, they leave them for a happy future that never comes. In one case, I saw almost a thousand downloaded applications, most of which were never opened by anyone. They just took up memory. The myth that installed applications do not affect the smartphone in any way is very tenacious. Alas, they eat up resources a little bit. No one in their right mind could have imagined that people would need so many applications in memory!

The second important point is that Android smartphones are often sensitive to lack of main memory, they need at least a few GB of free space. Therefore, it is definitely not worth cramming memory to capacity, it is better to store content on a memory card, but applications are in the main part.

The need to clean your RAM is bad advice

It seems to me that I have spent several years of my life explaining and explaining again how RAM is organized in Android. When people open the memory manager built into any modern smartphone, they are sincerely upset, their smartphone has “lost” memory.

The smartphone slows down, glitches and works poorly - crooked hands or is it outdated?

It doesn’t matter how much memory you have, some of it is always eaten by some programs, software, and in their opinion this is a terrible mess. It seems to people that they were deceived, they took away the purchased memory and now they cannot work with a smartphone. To fix the situation, various memory cleaning managers are used (it’s good if these are built-in utilities, but often something downloaded from the application store). In some cases, the process is automated, the smartphone constantly cleans the RAM, especially zealous people manage to set a timer for every 15 minutes!

Such cleaning of RAM does nothing but harm. In Android, the system itself allocates resources and when a new application is launched, it frees up memory, if necessary, gives more resources to this application. Clearing the memory in manual mode, you knock down the smooth operation of the entire system, while achieving absolutely nothing but increased battery consumption. Do you believe clearing memory helps your smartphone? Then clean, but do not complain about the system’s brakes, when every time it is forced to load the resources that you closed. It’s funny, but by cleaning up the RAM, people achieve exactly the opposite effect – they reduce the performance of the smartphone.

Hackers from God – mods, system and interface changes

Android has a lot of freedom to do whatever you want and that’s a plus for the system. But it is also a minus when, after reading the forums, people begin to “improve” their smartphone. One illiterate schoolboy writes instructions on how to speed up work, other people believe it and set parameters in the engineering, hidden menus, not understanding what they mean and what they can lead to. In the end, the smartphone starts to work badly and the manufacturer is to blame for this, and not at all the playful hands of a person.

It is also a very common story when interface elements are replaced with third-party programs that work very badly – the manufacturer is also to blame. I had a friend who installed three different shells on his smartphone and could not understand why it works so slowly and constantly hangs, and dialog boxes for actions also appear (of course, he chose the answers arbitrarily and all three shells were responsible for their actions!).

The rule is simple – you do not know or are not sure what you are doing, then you should not go under the hood of Android. In most cases, you just screw it up and you can’t fix it later. Why do this?

The smartphone began to slow down – what to do, where to look

You have not done anything that is listed above, but you are sure that your smartphone is slow, programs freeze and everything is clearly not the same as it once was. Let’s figure out what the problem might be.

The first starting point, you need to see how much memory is in your smartphone (there should be several GB free). If everything is fine with memory, then let’s see how the folders in the root directory are distributed (put all your folders inside the directories, for example, if you put a folder with photos or music in the root, then you should transfer them to Pictures or Music, remove them from the root). The fewer folders and files you have in the root directory, the better. Usually the main problem is that not even folders are put here, but files, a couple of thousand photos copied from somewhere. This is definitely not worth doing. This is not the most critical issue, but it can have a negative impact on system performance.

Often the brakes in the system are associated with the speed of writing / reading a memory card. This point should also be taken into account, a lot depends on the speed of the microSD card, as a rule, the card is inferior in speed to the built-in memory and this is a minus. Try not to spare your money on quality cards with good performance. And the resource of such memory cards is clearly greater, but only if you have not bought a fake.

Take a look at the Gallery, if you have a lot of photos in the default folder, then it might be worth creating separate albums for them. I don’t do this on flagships, since the resources allow you to work comfortably and there are no slowdowns, but in the budget and middle segment this will affect performance.

The smartphone slows down, glitches and works poorly - crooked hands or is it outdated?

Look at applications that can run in the background, such as clouds where you save your files. It is worth setting them up to work at the moment when the smartphone is on the home WiFi network and connected to an outlet, which means you are not using it. This time will be enough for synchronization, and the resources of the device will not be occupied by these processes, the performance will not slow down in any way.

Antiviruses are quite gluttonous applications for Adnroid, they constantly run in the background and consume significant resources. With the observance of digital hygiene, you can refuse them and not experience any problems. Often, the suboptimal work of the antivirus is the reason for the brakes in the smartphone.

In the browser, you can open many tabs, their number can reach several dozen, over a hundred. This also takes up smartphone resources, so try to close those tabs that you don’t need. Or get ready for the fact that your browser will eat up battery power faster, and the overall performance may sink a little.

The smartphone slows down, glitches and works poorly - crooked hands or is it outdated?

Some apps love to keep track of everything you do on your smartphone. For example, Facebook collects the maximum amount of information about you, it is a voracious app and data-hungry. Configure it so that it can only work when you explicitly run it, otherwise it will eat up your resources. There are not many such applications, but they do occur. Also, you can find applications of small companies that simply eat up resources due to poorly written code. In Android, you can look after those who behave badly and restrict such applications in rights.

The smartphone slows down, glitches and works poorly - crooked hands or is it outdated?The smartphone slows down, glitches and works poorly - crooked hands or is it outdated?

With the right approach, you will ensure that your smartphone will not slow down even a year or two after you bought it. If we are talking about a flagship, then this is a long time. Almost always the feeling of brakes lies in the field of psychology, or comparison with new models, which is a little faster. And also these are improperly used smartphones, in which the user himself did everything possible to prevent them from working.

In the most advanced cases, the easiest way is to reset all data to its original state and set up a smartphone from scratch, this will help avoid problems for a while. But as for me, it’s better to find the cause of these problems, usually it’s some kind of software or customization made by hand. Unfortunately, after the reset, people install the same programs and do not understand that they are the cause of the problems.

Recently had the opportunity to see the Galaxy S4 still in use, which its owner is happy with. I latently thought that he would brake terribly, he had to brake! But no, the interface is quite responsive and pleasant to use. Not the flagship of 2020, but there is no point in screaming horror-horror.

Hope this article will get you thinking about how smartphones should be handled in order for them to work well. And you should always remember how to choose a smartphone so that it lasts as long as possible and does not become obsolete.

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