A smartphone gives you the flexibility to get online from different kinds of wireless networks and many locations. Unfortunately, the speed with which phones browse and communicate online can sometimes disappoint. Use these tricks to increase the performance of your phone’s network connections.
Try Both Wi-Fi and Cellular
In most situations, Wi-Fi connections perform better than 3G or 4G mobile broadband cellular links. Check the phone’s available Wi-Fi networks list and try any that you are authorized to use first before settling for the cellular connection. Wi-Fi connections have an added benefit of avoiding the fees that most phone providers charge for using their cell networks.
- When the local Wi-Fi network gets overcrowded with users, everyone’s speeds slow to a crawl.
- When walking, standing in a place with wireless signal interference, or standing near the edge of a Wi-Fi network’s range, your phone’s connection to Wi-Fi can drop or occasionally stall, causing frustrating delays in even simple tasks like checking email or browsing the Web.
- If your LTE cellular service is high performing, like LTE, it can outperform Wi-Fi hotspots
The bottom line: Online connections run at all different speeds depending on the technology they use but also how they are being used. Wi-Fi often can outperform cellular links, but you can’t rely on that until you try.
Limit the Network Activity of Background Applications
A majority of smartphone apps use Internet connections to support features like notifications, online database updates, and searching. These so-called “background services” can run and consume resources on phones even when you’re not using that specific app. You might be able to improve the performance of apps you’re using by changing settings on the phone to limit this background network activity.
The bottom line: Phones are designed to run background services efficiently, but turning them off does reduce your network data load and can help in those situations when you need maximum performance. If your phone has relatively few apps that support background services, you’re likely to see minimal performance gains, though.
Consider Upgrading Your Operating System and Apps
Phone operating systems like Android or iOS get upgraded regularly with new features and bug fixes. Many of these changes have no effect on a phone’s network capabilities, but some are intended to improve its performance. Upgrades sometimes don’t work as intended, however, and can introduce new issues including lower performance.
The bottom line: Research each operating system upgrade before installing it. No matter how promising they appear, consider holding off all upgrades temporarily until you see positive feedback from friends or online message boards.
Consider Clearing Your Application’s Data Cache
Apps that run Android or iOS smartphones utilize a feature called a data cache. Similar to those used by Web browsers on home computers, these app data caches store copies of data that you recently downloaded. This can help improve the responsiveness of your phone by enabling apps to work with data locally in their caches instead of needing to download from the network more than once.
Because a data cache is designed to improve the performance of network devices, suggesting to clear (meaning, empty) it seems counter-intuitive. The reason why some professionals recommend it for phone’s is as follows: If a person has different apps on their phone and switches between them frequently, then the phone’s cache will tend to get filled with data for apps not currently being used, and purging that unused data will make space in the cache for fresher data.
When you choose to do this matters a lot. If you clear your cache while you are using a particular app, you will likely delete data that was helping your phone perform better and actually slow it down! Additionally, clearing caches with little data in them has no real effect on performance (but it does waste your time).
The bottom line: Consider clearing you caches, occasionally, but don’t count on this to improve your online performance.