How to fix a sluggish iPhone or iPad

With every update of iOS, older devices seem to bog down and suffer from lag.

iOS 9 has been particularly unkind to the iPhone 4S (and there’s even a lawsuit against Apple about it) but, fortunately, there are a few ways to speed up your experience.

Of course, first try a hard restart — hold down the power and home button for around 10 seconds until an Apple logo appears.

Dial back the visuals

IMG_0508iOS has some fancy eye candy that older hardware struggles to render. Turning off transparency (iOS 9) and animation motion can reduce lag.

Head to Settings > General and then Accessibility. Toggle the Reduce Motion option to on. Navigate one layer deeper to Increase Contrast and turn Reduce Transparency on.

Sure, it won’t look quite as nice any more, but a smoother, faster experience is worth the trade-off.

Corral Siri

One of the new features of iOS is Siri Suggestions — a kind of proactive behind the scenes search.

siri_natural_languageIt does use extra resources, though, so turn it off to speed things up.

Head to Settings > General > Spotlight Search and toggle Siri Suggestions to Off.

For older versions, head to the same place but turn off Spotlight Suggestions.

You can also manually disable the functionality individual apps.

Disable background app refresh

iOS has a handy feature that lets apps keep up to date behind the scenes, so they have the latest info when opened.

This does use some extra resources, though, so turning it off can improve general speed and even boost battery life.

Head to Settings > General > Background App Refresh and turn it off. Apps now update when opening instead.

Turn off automatic updates

OS, app and other automatic background updates and installs can take a toll on front-end performance.

Turning them off can leave your phone out of date, but you will need to select updates manually.

Navigate to Settings > and toggle Updates to off.

Always check you have the latest version of iOS available, as various bug fixes can improve performance.

A fresh start

IMG_0506If your iOS device is still sluggish, resetting it to the factory configuration can help. This totally wipes all data and apps, so make sure you are fully backed up.

Connect your iPhone or iPad via USB to your computer and fire up iTunes. Select your device, then click the Summary tab, then the Restore button and follow the prompts.

To reset without iTunes, navigate to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings and click ‘Erase iPhone’.

Downgrade iOS

After every iOS update, there is a very short window of time where it is possible to roll back to the previous version.

If you experience major performance issues with an update, then downgrading is a useful option.

The easiest way is to use iTunes to create an archived backup (not just a normal backup) before upgrading. If the update causes problem, restore the backup and don’t update again.