Smartphones are an amazing piece of technology. Advancements in electronics and engineering such as the design and fabrication of chips have enabled these compact devices to become as efficient and as useful as most desktop and laptop computers.
However, these devices are not built to last. An individual who holds the same model of smartphone for the last five years or more would notice hitches and glitches. The fact remains that smartphones get slow over time. Upgrades are inevitable.
Why exactly do smartphones get slow over time? What are the factors that affect their performance and longevity? This article enumerates and discusses the reasons why a seeming technological marvel tends to have a shorter lifespan than other consumer electronic devices.
Understanding the Reasons Why Smartphones Get Slow Over Time
1. Too Many Installed Apps and Stored Files
One of the most basic reasons why smartphones slow down over time is the number of installed apps and stored files. A particular device can still have enough storage space to accommodate apps and files but this does not mean it would be able to work efficiently.
Several apps run in the background. Examples include social media apps and navigation apps. Even some mobile games run in the background. This means that these apps consume RAM even when unused or unopened for a long time.
Consuming more than 90 percent of the RAM will result in noticeable lags when it comes to launching and running a particular app. Note that some apps are resource-heavy and they would need a sizeable system memory to run without hiccups.
Furthermore, storing too many files such as photos, videos, and documents, as well as cached files from using existing apps and web browsers, in addition to deleting and saving new ones over and over again would make read and write speeds inefficient.
A particular file is stored in small chunks of data spread across the storage. Deleting this file means freeing up storage space in an ununiform manner. The system will have a hard time retrieving and storing files with the repeated storage and deletion process.
2. Limitations of the Solid-State Flash Storage
Another important factor explaining the slow-down of smartphones is the disadvantages or limitations of solid-state drives. Most devices use flash storage to store data. This storage medium is inherently faster and more compact than hard disk drives.
However, one of the drawbacks of solid-state drives such as flash storage is that their performance slows down upon reaching maximum storage capacity. The rule of thumb is not to use more than 70 percent of the storage space.
It is also important to reiterate the fact that the continuous process of storing and deleting files transpiring over a period also affects the capabilities of the storage medium to store and retrieve data. Understanding better requires a further understanding of how SSD works.
Note that a deleted file stored on an SSD is not actually deleted. The system only tells that the designated section is marked free. The solid-state drive still retains the data. The SSD only frees up the space on that section when it needs to write or store new data.
The process becomes slower due to repeated storage and deletion, as well as due to the absence of free sections in the storage medium. Storing larger files will require more time and effort because the SSD needs to move smaller files to other sections.
It is also important to highlight the fact that an SSD has a limited lifespan. It has limited read and write cycles. An older solid-state storage medium will eventually fail after maximizing these cycles. The lifespan varies depending on the frequencies of storage and deletion.
3. Software Updates on Older Hardware
Another one of the primary reasons smartphones get slow over time is the outdatedness of the hardware. Newer devices are almost always based on the latest and most advanced generation of designing and manufacturing systems-on-chip.
Developers of operating systems and apps intend to maximize the features and advantages of new chips and other similar hardware components. The result is that they release updated operating systems or apps that require more computational load than before.
Processors fundamentally age due to these updates. Older ones are not able to keep up with the system requirements of newer versions of an operating system or a particular app. Older devices would not be able to run newer or the most latest version of apps.
An example would be the streaming of high-definition and 4K videos. Older mobile processors do not have the native capability to decode and process these files. The same is true for mobile games that depend on advanced integrated graphics and higher RAM.
Some apps also introduce features that take exploit the capabilities of newer hardware. These include the use of artificial intelligence built in the chip or the image signal and digital signal processors used in social media, photography, and other apps.
4. Presence of Malware and Planned Obsolescence
A malware or malicious software is a software intentionally developed and deployed to cause some form of disruption to a system. Examples of malware include virus, spyware, adware, Trojan horse, worms, ransomware, and wiper, among others.
These malware operate in the background without the knowledge of device users. They also consume system resources such as storage space, system memory, and processing resources. These facts mean that they can slow down a smartphone.
Consider worms as an example. These malicious software use system resources to replicate in a particular device and spread to other devices. Another example is adware which uses the internet connection to send and receive data over-the-air for targeted ads delivery.
Another purported factor blamed as one of the reasons why smartphones get slow over time is planned obsolesce. Advocates have criticized manufacturers for intentionally slowing down their products and forcing their consumers to purchase new devices.
Note that Apple has admitted that it intentionally decreases the performance capabilities of older generations of the iPhone with each iOS update not to force them to purchase newer devices but to ensure optimization between the hardware and declining battery health.