Maybe I just hit the turbo button
September 27, 2011 2:43 PM   Subscribe

My iPhone is suddenly working five times as fast. Great! How can I keep it from slowing down again?

I have an iPhone 4. For the last month or two I've noticed it working a lot slower than usual - even basic stuff like swiping it on took a couple seconds, and pretty much every single action had a 50/50 chance of lagging for a second or so. The worst was the camera, which would just show the closed shutters for 15-30 seconds before letting me take a picture of anything.

Without warning, though, my phone suddenly starting working great this morning - everything is snappy and fast, it's like night and day from what was going on before. I can't remember it ever working so well. Unfortunately I have no idea what could have fixed it. I didn't reset or download anything. I didn't force-close any apps. The only thing I can think of that's different is that I started listening to a new episode of a podcast instead of one that had been on pause for a week or so, but that doesn't make sense, since my phone was in slow-mode through a dozen episode changes. What happened!? How can I keep it all nice and zippy?
posted by theodolite to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Restart the phone when it starts getting slow.
posted by The Lamplighter at 2:59 PM on September 27, 2011 [6 favorites]

If you take it to the Genius Bar at an Apple Store, they can plug it in and check on some stuff to see if it's a software problem - in which case they may tell you to restore it to factory settings. Or they might replace it. Either way, you should make sure you've done a full sync including getting a backup before you go.
posted by glhaynes at 3:24 PM on September 27, 2011

Like The Lamlplighter says, you should restart it when it starts to feel sluggish. One slowdown like you describe on the camera app would be enough for me to restart it. It is a little computer and sometimes rebooting will get rid of some gremlin processes running in the background. And of course, make sure you're updating apps as they become available. A month or so ago the Weather Channel app released an update with the bug that kept the GPS on which pretty much drains the battery. They issued an update that fixed it a few days later, but the lesson is sometimes updates will make misbehaving apps behave.

If it does start slowing again, restoring from a backup should fix it. If that doesn't work, Genius Bar.
posted by birdherder at 3:34 PM on September 27, 2011

That Camera app problem you mentioned has happened to me a few times, restarted it and back to normal.

There's a reason the first question any tech support person will ask is: "Have you turned it off and on again?"
posted by Sphinx at 3:59 PM on September 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

Restart the phone when it starts getting slow.

Sometimes the simplest answers are the best.
posted by theodolite at 5:41 PM on September 27, 2011

The Lamplighter: "Restart the phone when it starts getting slow."

The Lamplighter, I would like to marry you and bear your children... I haven't turned my phone off in ages and was having the same slow-down problem. DUH!
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:25 PM on September 27, 2011

I am not a programmer, but I think what happens is a piece of software requests memory from the OS, but then does not return it when it is done (if the app crashes or something or is poorly written - a memory leak). Over time, these orphan bits of memory that cannot be re-allocated by the OS accumulate, so your device has less and less memory available to use.
When you power cycle the device, all the previous memory allocations are forgotten, and you have the full RAM available for use again.
posted by bystander at 9:44 PM on September 27, 2011

No offence, bystander, but that's not how OSes work. When an app is killed, its entire heap and all its resources are reclaimed. A leaking app is only a problem while it's running. In the bad old days it wasn't like that but with hardware MMUs and modern OSes, an app can't create leaks that outlive the app.

In theory, anyway.

In the iOS devices though, backgrounding is handled "magically". The OS decides when to kill apps, not you. So you can easily have background apps running, sucking up memory, battery power, extra magic, etc. If it gets slow, try killing a bunch of the apps that show up in the task manager strip. If that fails, then reboot.
posted by chairface at 10:44 AM on September 28, 2011

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