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Editorial: tricks to speed up your older device if you upgraded to iOS 7

07 Oct 2013 News
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Editorial: tricks to speed up your older device if you upgraded to iOS 7
image courtesy of Dodo-Bird (flickr)

You either love iOS 7 or you hate it. If you own an iPhone 4 (or older iPad) and upgraded (and are now regretting it), you’re probably in the latter category. If you’re experiencing frustrating slow-downs since you downloaded iOS 7, then here are some tips and tricks that might help. These tricks may even help people with iPhone 4S, so read on.

Please keep in mind that these are not magical fixes that will turn your device into one that works as fast as a 5, 5C, or 5S, but they should improve your experience.

Onscreen Keyboard Lags

One of the main complaints is lagging with the onscreen keyboard. Reportedly, one way to fix this is to disable “Documents and Data” in the iCloud settings. I’m not sure why it works, but it does.

General Slowness

All of the fancy appearances added to the OS will slow down your device. Turn off transparency and blur effects by using “Increase Contrast.” Go to Settings > Accessibility > Increase Contrast and turn it ON.

This will change the background color in Control Center, Notification Center, folders, and a few places to a solid color.

Other Tips

Turn Off Background App Refresh

Yes, I know I mentioned this in the battery editorial, but what will use up battery power will also slow down your device. Go to Settings > App Store > Automatic Downloads > Apps and Updates and toggle off the switch.

Clean Up Your Device

First off, delete any apps you don’t use or want anymore. If your iPhone or iPad’s capacity is anywhere near full, deleting some off will really affect its speed. Go to Settings > General > Usage and see how much free space it has. You can delete apps from here directly; press and hold on the app until it starts to wiggle, and then press the X in the top-left corner.

Shut Down Background Processes

One of the changes made in iOS 7 is that apps update themselves in the background. This can take up a lot of your CPU and battery, so if you turn it off you’ll save yourself some speed. You’ll have to update your apps yourself, of course, but I think it’s worth it. Just go to Settings > App Store > Automatic Downloads > Apps and Updates and turn off the switch. You can also turn off the auto downloads for Music and Books if you want more speed, although this means you’ll have to manually synch your purchases across devices.

Turn Off Background App Refresh

Again, this uses up your battery and CPU; in fact, this is the biggest drain on your device if you leave it on. Turn it off. You’ll need to wait for your FB feed to update when you load it, but it’s a fair exchange. Go to Settings > General > Background App Refresh and switch off the toggle screen.

Update to the newest version of iOS 7

Right now the current version is iOS 7.0.2. If you haven’t updated to this version yet, do so. And update every time an update is offered.

Last-Resort Options

This is a bit of an extreme fix, but if you’ve tried everything else and your device is still really slow, you do have the option to reset it to factory settings. BACK UP YOUR DEVICE before you do this if you decide you want to restore from the backup. A reset to factory settings means it will be just like you just opened the box on a brand-new device.  That means all your photos, apps, music, and other data will be gone unless you back it up.

Starting with a clean slate will often do the trick. It’s a bit of a pain in the butt though, so only do this if you’re really sure.

To do this, go to Settings > General > Reset and tap on “Erase All Content and Settings.” Enter your iPhone passcode, and tap on “Erase iPhone” if you’re really sure.


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Rebecca, a former police officer, is an experienced writer and editor. She has used all kinds of different tech and prefers Apple products and apps. Her areas of expertise are in all things Apple, health and fitness, the Paleo lifestyle, and legal topics.