Speed up your HTC Hero (or any Android phone)

Update: Before you try any of the following, make sure you have the latest ROM update (2.73.405.5) from HTC (UK version here). This makes a huge difference to speed and is highly recommended.

Original article follows:

I love my HTC Hero Android phone, but one of it’s biggest criticisms is its speed (or lack of it), and occasional lags. I too had noticed these lags more and more.

Don’t automatically blame HTC Sense though. There are some simple things you can do which may give you a noticeable speed increase. Follow these steps in order, until you get the improvement you are after:

Uninstall the crap

If you’re like me, one of the first things you did when you got your new phone was to get straight on the Market and install every free app that looked fun. You’ve probably not used most of these more than once or twice, if at all, and half of them probably don’t even work properly.

Most of these apps won’t be causing any problem, but there’s a chance that some of them use up resources even when you don’t know they are running. Whether they are or not, it’s worth uninstalling them – it will save space and make your “All Programs” easier to navigate!

Open up the Market, tap “My Downloads”. You will see a list of all the apps you’ve installed. From here you can select them and tap “Uninstall”. While you’re there why not update any apps for which it says “Update available” – newer versions may well be better behaved with resources.

I uninstalled a fart app, a bubble-wrap popper, and a few more.

Tweak some settings

Many apps run in the backgroud. Generally this is a good thing as it can give some great functionality (such as notifying you of new tweets, or monitoring network usage), but they all use precious system resources.

Work out what’s running (most will offer notifications or have options like “open at startup” which should give you a clue),  and decide whether you use the functionality. For example, the Babbler Facebook app can run in the background and give you notifications. This is great, but I get emails (and therefore gmail notifications) anyway so it’s not something I need. I reduced the frequency of Peep (Twitter client) updates, as I really didn’t need to know waht people are up to every 20 mins. I also set the contacts Facebook sync to every 12 hours.

Don’t forget all this widgets on your homepages se resources, so get rid of any you don’t use. The full page ones are nice, but is it much harder to open the app than to switch to that page (and wait for it to refresh)?

I don’t know how much of this made any significant difference, but if you don’t need it running, its definitely worth a go.

Search for a culprit

After trying all of the above, my Hero was still a bit slower than I would have liked. I decided there must by something causing the problem, and I eventually traced t down to a widget/app I had downloaded called QuickCalendar. It’s a great app (I wanted a homescreen widget that would display more than one calendar entry, and only from selected calendars), but unfortunaly has some bugs, and also seemed to be the culprit for my slowdown. I noticed a significant speed increase once I uninstalled this app. I would like to add that I’m not sure this was causing the issue – see the response from Jim in the comments.

It may take some trial and error to find the culprit. Try uninstalling or disabling one thing at a time and see if it makes any difference. It may of course be that there is nothing causing a problem and you’re just being impatient!

There are of course other things you could try. You could try switching to the standard home screen instead of TouchFlo, although I’m unconvinced it makes a difference. I also noticed that when my phone lost the Facebook login details (not sure what caused this) it seems a little bit faster. I may have been imagining it. Maybe it’s because I have over 500 Google contacts, and quite a lot of Facebook friends, and it was just a lot of data being syncronised? Either way, if you don’t use this feature much it might be worth disabling.

So, my phone is now much faster, and as an added bonus the battery life seems significantly better. Let me know how you get on if you try this.

12 responses to “Speed up your HTC Hero (or any Android phone)”

  1. Hi Rob

    Glad to read you enjoyed Quick Calendar but distressed to read you had problems with it. When you’re not actually in the application, QC polls the internal calendar every 5 minutes to update any widgets you have or the status bar. This generally takes less than a second. Outside of that period it is sleeping (this is managed by the phone OS) so right now I can’t think of any technical reason why it would cause slowdown to other apps.

    Could I point you at two resources you may find interesting, if you’re happy to connect your phone to your computer via USB and to download and install the Android SDK. Firstly the ‘adb’ command line application, which when run with ‘adb logcat’ will show you logging messages from all applications running. http://developer.android.com/guide/developing/tools/adb.html. You will see which of your applications are still executing in the background (taking battery and CPU resources) which can be enlightening. Secondly ‘ddms’ is more advanced but is the profile application that I use (and other developers too) to try to visualise Quick Calendar’s use of resources http://developer.android.com/guide/developing/tools/ddms.html .


  2. Thanks Jim, I’ll take a look at that sometime (a bit busy at the moment so it won’t be for a little while). I quite fancy getting in to Android development anyway, so have no problem downloading the SDK. All I know is it seemed to speed up when I uninstalled it.

    I was also having issues: the app crashed quite a few times, and I quite often had duplicate entries on the widget.

    I also wasn’t using the main functionality of the app: I only wanted the homescreen widget, so thought it was probably overkill for my requirements.

    I hope I haven’t blamed your app unnecessarily – as I say I did lots of things to get my speedup!

  3. Some good points there Rob.

    I got my HTC Hero last week and the first thing I did after seeing some of the review was install a class 6 micro SD card. Runs nice and smooth now… Also, I have read on several blogs else where that “uninstalling” and “stopping processes” from running can make the phone slower! Its abit like Vista using superfetch, its preloads your most used programs into all available ram so they load faster… Just a thought

  4. Some interesting points there. I have a class 4, but may upgrade to 6 if I see a good price on a large one.

    I can’t see how uninstalling unused apps could slow it down in the long term, but I could possibly see that killing processes prematurely may slow things down.

    Last point: I’d appreciate it if you used your real name (or a nickname) rather than the name you used: it’s all a bit spammy!

  5. Using a class 6 card would only help, I guess, if we were able to install apps on the card itself instead of the phone memory. It is possible to do so with a rooted hero but not if it is out of the box.

  6. You would have thought so, but I’ve heard lots of stories of Class 6 cards speeding up non-rooted phones. I am guessing Android creates some sort of swap space/cache on the memory card? Or possibly it’s just functions that do read the card (such as reading media) which are faster? Or maybe it’s just the placebo effect!?

  7. If you want to speed up your HTC Hero, get rid of the rubbish that Orange/T-Mobile etc install and install a custom rom from someone like MoDaCo. There’s info available through Google about the benifits but the biggest has to be the fact that ALL applications get installed onto the SD card by default.

    I use Apps2SD, Cache2SD, have my data and Davlik-Cache on the SD, swapper and a CPU overclocking utility. I have 150MB of internal memory free and a super fast hero! Yes, it’ll void your warranty, but thats what they are there for!

  8. If anyone needs help/guidance on rooting or anything else, just look for agent-5 in the android forums.

  9. Hi Rob, this is a great site to learn more ticks for the Android. I just have one question…how do you sorrt the contacts by its last name? I have been doing it manually by settng it as filed by last name. Is there a way that it automatically sorts it by its last name?

  10. Hi June

    I can’t find a way to sort by last name. I think one problem is that Google Contacts (which android contacts is based on) seems to have a single “name” field, rather than multiple fields.

    I would imagine one way to do it would be to name your contacts “Lastname, Firstname” rather than “Firstname Lastname”. Alternatively of course you could rely on the search which then won’t care what the sorting is!

    If anyone else has any idea let me know.

  11. Hi people,

    I would need Internet browser and People apps to be faster (less lag) on my Hero. How should I proceed please? I don’t want to get rid of this nice piece of phone =)

    I never did any mods myself, totally noob, but got automatic update to Android 2.1 last year I remember. This phone is bought in Ireland but not from operators so it’s SIM free. Current build number: 3.32.405.1, this is ROM version right?

    I m trying to google but so many guides I m more confused now. ie Do I have to do these downgrade steps before speeding things up? GoldCard neccessary?

    I get red triangle when press power+home buttons.

    Or can I somehow ROOT at this point without downgrading back to 1.5?

    Got 4gb Class 4 microSD card already last year. Maybe should buy 16gb Class 6 now if much faster?

    Sorry many questions, I hope someone experienced there could assist me. Don’t have money for new dual-core phone and Hero should be able to get faster by rooting anyway, right?

    Cheers, -ambba.

  12. Btw, thanks Rob on such simple tip to remove unnecessary apps.. it boosted a bit already =)

    Btw 2: captcha code and related audio are often totally different, maybe thats why no comments here for long time.

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