If you’ve owned your smartphone for a few years, you may have noticed that it isn’t quite as zippy as it once was. Although some app updates are easier for your phone to run, the majority of app and operating system (OS) upgrades are more demanding. This means that your phone will never be quite a fast as it was when it was new. However, before you start to think about buying a new phone, it’s worth running some speed tests, known as benchmark tests, to see how your phone is really doing. Here are six free apps for doing just that and five free ways to reclaim some of the speed your handset used to have.
What is benchmarking?
Benchmarking has been around for decades in the world of personal computing. It began as a way to measure different components such as processors or graphics cards against its other. This helped users to measure how much extra performance they could gain from upgrading their graphics card or by adding extra RAM to their computer.
Benchmark tests for phones help compare the performance of one phone against another. Although benchmarking used to be the preserve of experts, there are now many free apps that can help anyone test the speed of their handset.
Although benchmark tests are often used in tech reviews to compare one phone against another, this isn’t particularly helpful as all phones are optimized in different ways. For instance, a number of websites compared the iPhone 8 Plus against the Galaxy Note 8 using benchmarking tests and found that the Apple’s A11 Bionic chip was far superior to Samsung’s offering. However, a more thorough overview noted that the Note 8 has double the RAM of Apple’s handset and can load websites and web apps more quickly.
Benchmarks are very useful in terms of tracking the performance of your phone over time. You can tell at a glance whether your phone is still running at the same speed it once was. Fortunately, no specialist knowledge is required! Here are six free apps that can help you dive into the world of benchmarking and test your phone’s speed with ease.
#1. Antutu Benchmark
With over 100 million users, Antutu Benchmark is one of the leading benchmarking apps. Available for free on both Android and iOS, this app puts your phone’s processor and RAM through their paces. According to Anututu, their latest tests “better reflect real-world use cases,” meaning that you will get an accurate overview of your handset’s speed. This app gives detailed information about your battery level and its internal temperature meaning that you can see at a glance how your handset is holding up.
#2. Geekbench 4 by Primate Labs Inc.
Primate Lab’s Geekbench is one of the most trusted names in benchmarking tests and their results are often cited by journalists and reviewers. While Geekbench 4 costs $0.99 on iOS, the Android app is free. Both versions test the processor speed and memory performance of any phone and take the guesswork out of benchmarking. Geekbench scores are easy to understand and the app keeps a record of your scores over time. This makes it easy to identify any degradation in your phone’s speed.
In common with Antutu, Geekbench runs tests that simulate real-world tasks. Geekbench 4 can differentiate between single and multi-core CPUs to ensure that it is measuring the full potential of your device. You can also measure your phone’s GPU with Geekbench 4’s new GPU Compute tests.
One of the most popular benchmarking apps is 3DMark, available for iOS and Android. This app benchmarks the CPU and GPU in your device and gives you a score. You can compare your score with those of other devices around the world and see whether it’s time for an upgrade. As we mentioned earlier, OS upgrades are more demanding and can be a major reason behind smartphones slowing down. 3DMark lets you see how your phone’s speed has been affected by each OS upgrade.
While any of the three apps described above will give you a good overview of your phone’s speed, you may want to know more specific details about your device. Here are three supplementary apps that can help you pinpoint why your device may be slower than it once was.
#4. GSam Battery Monitor
You may have heard that Apple is being sued by a number of disgruntled iPhone users after it emerged that the company was intentionally slowing down older handsets. In a statement, Apple said that this move was necessary to help older devices with weaker batteries. This shows the effect that an old battery can have on your phone’s performance. It also illustrates how OS upgrades increase the demand on your phone and result in a slower experience.
Of course, you can easily spot dwindling battery life by checking how much power you’ve got left at the end of every day. For a more thorough test, try a battery-testing app. As explained by CNET, Apple users will need to install the official Apple Support App to test their device’s battery. Android users can use GSam Battery Monitor, AnTuTu Tester or PCMark. This will help you decide whether changing your phone’s battery is necessary. A new battery may be able to speed up your phone without any additional changes.
#5. Speedtest by Ookla
Occasionally, slow download and upload speeds will create the illusion that your handset has slowed down. Speedtest by Ookla, for Android and iOS, is one of the best apps for testing this theory out. Speedtest is a simple, one-tap test that accurately tests upload and download speeds on any device. You should run the test three times to create an average and then compare the speeds with those claimed by your ISP (Internet Service Provider). This will help you determine whether it’s your phone or your connection that is to blame for slow performance.
#6. Vellamo app or Basemark via browser
Our sixth and final speed test is a free app called Vellamo (only available for Android). This app was created by Qualcomm to test the efficiency of mobile browsers. A good alternative is Basemark, which can be accessed via its official homepage. If your phone seems up to speed but your browsing seems slow, this app will help you discover whether your browser is the issue. If this is the case, switching to a faster browser such as Firefox or Opera is a good solution.
A Free, 5-Step Plan to Reclaim your phone’s performance
Now that you’re familiar with the top benchmarking apps, it’s time to use them to reclaim some of your phone’s lost performance. Here is a free and easy-to-follow 5-step plan.
Step #1. Start running benchmark apps regularly
All of the apps we covered above allow you to log your benchmarking scores. Start using the apps regularly to see whether your phone’s performance is improving or worsening over time. Don’t worry about measuring your phone against other handsets, you don’t know how those other phones are set up or what applications they are running.
Step #2. Delete unused apps, widgets or excess files
If you’ve run a benchmarking test and wondered why your phone has a worse score than someone else’s handset, the number of apps on your phone could be one reason. All phones will drastically slow down if their storage space is too low. One way to speed up your phone is to delete apps that you no longer use and backup photos and videos elsewhere so that they aren’t cluttering up your device. Phones run far faster with large amounts of spare storage space.
If you are wondering where to begin, consider deleting or disabling multiple apps that perform the same function. On Samsung phones this may include the built-in web browser and the Chrome browser. You cannot delete Chrome but you can replace it with the factory-version and then disable it.
#3. Use an optimization app
There are plenty of free optimization apps available for both Android and iOS devices. One of the most trusted names is Advanced Mobile Care Security (AMC) by IObit. With over 20 million users worldwide, this app will clean and boost any mobile phone and should result in significant speed improvements. As an added bonus, it also offers protection against phishing websites and malware, making it a must-have app on any device. There are dozens of other similar free apps to choose from but AMC is a convenient all-in-one option.
#4. Pinpoint the problem
If the unlikely event that the first three steps don’t help, a app called Trepn Profiler by Qualcomm will help you pinpoint the problem. This free app shows you your phone’s CPU load in real-time along with network traffic, GPU loads and RAM usage. This can help you discover whether it’s an app, multiple apps or the system itself that is causing the problem.
#5. Full factory reset
Over time, your smartphone will have built up a significant amount of junk data. Even when you delete an app, some files may be left behind. Although a full factory reset will never restore your phone to its original speed (OS updates are invariably more demanding), it is one of the best ways of reclaiming lost speed.
Begin by safely backing up all of your files including your photos, videos and documents. The reset will wipe them out. If in doubt, save them onto your device’s micro SD card and then save this onto a computer or hard drive. Factory resetting an iPhone is as simple as going to ‘Settings’, ‘General’, ‘Reset’ and then selecting ‘Erase All Content and Settings’. Android users need to open ‘Settings’ and select ‘System’, ‘Reset options’ and ‘Eras