Sluggish iPhone Got You Down?

Is your iOS device running a little sluggish since updating to iOS 7? Sometimes it’s just an innevitable and unavoidable downside of owning and using a smartphone or tablet. When you think about it though, as much as we use our devices each day, its a wonder a lot more of us don’t experience this more often. There are some fixes you can try to restore your iOS device back to near peak performance.

One of the first things you can do is try shutting down some of the applications you have running in the background. To do this, double click the home button and scroll through all the open applications. Your iOS device is basically a small computer and the applications running are just like programs or software you would have open on a laptop or desktop computer. If there are numerous programs running on your computer, it would produce some processing drag. Scroll through the open programs on you iOS device and swipe up on those you no longer would like to have running in the background. Closing some application can improve your iOS devices performance as well as battery life (learn how to change your iPhone battery).


If that doesn’t take care of it, try rebooting your device. There are two types of reboots you can execute. A basic power down, where you hold the power button down until you are offered the slide to power off option. The other option is a hard reboot, where you hold the power button and the home button down until you see the Apple appear on the screen. I’ve seen some discussion boards saying to avoid doing hard resets repeatedly. The Apple website describes a hard reboot or reset as something you would do as a last resort. With that being said, I’ve never had any issues when executing a hard reboot on any of the 4 iPhones I’ve owned. It has generally improved whatever it was I was trying to clear up.


If you still notice your iOS device is sluggish, the next option is to restore to factory settings and restore from a backup. It’s the least appealing option, but more than likely will correct any software issues taking place on your iOS device. Before you restore to factory settings you should backup your device or you will lose everything since your last backup. Did I lose you yet? Don’t worry, just go to Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup. Here you will see at the bottom of your screen under Backup if the iCloud backup option is on or off. If it’s turned on, you will see a option that says Back Up Now. If you are on Wi-Fi and have a power cord to plug your iOS device in, select that option. If not, wait till both of those criteria are meet. You aren’t able to backup to iCloud unless the device is plugged in and on Wi-Fi. If you do not have the iCloud Backup option selected, you can enable it and do exactly what I discussed above or back up your iOS device to iTunes.


To backup your iOS device to iTunes, you can either do a Wi-Fi sync or by simply plugging it into the computer you always sync it with. I always plug my iPhone into iTunes when I am doing a backup I’m going to use for a restore. Don’t know why, but old habits die hard. Open iTunes if it doesn’t automatically, select your device under Devices, if you’re running with the sidebar shown. If you have the sidebar hidden, your iOS device will show up below the music control functions near the upper right hand side of the screen. Once you click on your iOS device, look under Backups and there you should see Back Up Now, select it. If you have any purchases needing to be transferred, it should prompt you to do so. Go ahead and get everything all squared away here to get your device ready to be reset.



Once you’ve completed a backup, your iOS device is ready to be restored to factory settings. If you’re not already plugged into your computer and logged into iTunes, do so and find your iOS device and select it. Find the Restore iPhone or Restore iPad option, whichever device you’re trying to fix, and select. There may be a prompt to turn off Find My iPhone before you can restore if you have this security feature enabled. You will turn this off by going into Settings > iCloud > Find My iPhone and slide it off. It will prompt you for your iCloud password to turn it off. This password is not your iTunes account password, unless you’ve set them up to be the same. Once you turn that off, you will be able to restore your device. Once you select restore, you may get a couple more prompts, one of which will be to back up. Don’t worry about that one unless you didn’t complete the backup right before trying to restore. It’s not unsafe to go ahead and do another backup, but will require more time if you just did one. Once you select you are sure you want to restore to factory settings it will begin the lengthy process.

Once you get everything reset, your iOS device will act much like it did on the first day you both met. Go ahead and go through all the prompts and set everything up to your liking, but when you get to where it asks you how you want it setup, make sure to select restore from a backup. This will get you back to where you were about 10-15 minutes ago. Once everything is loaded on your device, check to see if this corrected the sluggishness you were experiencing. Many people have noticed an improvement after doing this, whereas others still noticed some performance issues.

Please keep in mind however, iOS 7 does put a bit more strain on compatible devices with older processors. This is not to say it can’t run the software, it just requires a bit more processing. Think of it terms of towing capacity on vehicles. A truck with a towing capacity of 3000 lbs will experience performance issues while pulling a 1500 lbs compared to pulling nothing.  You would also notice a difference in performance between towing 3000 lbs and only 1500 lbs. With that in mind, if you were to get a truck with a towing capacity of 6000 lbs, you would notice a definite improvement between carrying the same two loads. Your iOS devices can be thought of in very much the same way. Their specs show they can support certain loads, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be noticeable differences when more demanding software is being used. As you’ve seen with older devices,  they cannot support the iOS upgrades because the hardware is unable to support the update.

If you are still having issues with your iOS device, it might be a good idea to schedule an appointment with the Apple Store. They may be able to diagnose an underlying hardware issue we commoners are not able to view. Some people loathe going into the store, but I look at is as time to spend with a good friend. I just have to remember, I’m going to the Apple Store today, so put the checkbook away.

About Author

Jeremy McGinty

Jeremy McGinty is an iOS expert and has written over 350 articles relating to Apple and their products over the past two years. Writing about iPhones, iPads, and anything relating to Apple is what Jeremy does in his free time and you’re going to love reading how he’s a normal guy just like you. Jeremy is the most approachable person you’ll ever meet and you should try it out for yourself, send him a message here!

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