Want a flagship Android experience without paying for it? Here are 6 Android hacks to help you on your way.

There are a lot of great Android phones out there. Sure, you’ve got your flagship Samsung Galaxy S20 and Huawei P40 Pro with their eye-watering displays and hundred-megapixel photos.

But just behind these forerunners is an array of lower priced phones, that themselves house solid chips, screens and cameras.

If, like me, you’ve opted for a value-focussed Android, you’ll no doubt want to keep it running smoothly (because there’s nothing more annoying than phone lag when you’re in a rush!).

Here are some handy tips to ensure you keep your smartphone speedy.

1) Keep your phone storage 25% empty

The lower and mid-tier phones in this world get by with less memory than the bruisers at the top.

To compare two Samsung Galaxy models, the behemoth S20 Ultra packs 128GB storage and 12GB RAM, while the more modest A20e has 32GB and 3GB, respectively.

While both flagships and underlings run faster with 25%+ free space, mid-range phones’ storage fills up more quickly, so it’s important to manage your files.

There are lots of ways to free up your phone’s memory. The most obvious method is to routinely go through and delete media and apps that you no longer need.

If you’re particularly popular, it’s worth disabling WhatsApp’s automatic media sync as photos and videos from your many groups will quickly clog up your memory. To do this: open Whatsapp > click the three dots in the top right > Settings > Chats > turn off Media Visibility.

Of course, if you’re one of those folks who just can’t throw anything away, there’s Micro SD cards. You can add as little as 4GB, or as much as 512GB to your storage depending on the model.

Just pop open your SIM slot and insert the card, then open the My Files app > tap the three dots and select Edit> select the files/folders and tap Move > tap SD Card > choose the desired destination folder > tap Done.

2) Don’t hoard, clear your cache

You can also clear the cache on your phone, like you would your internet browser. Just go to Settings > Storage >CLEAN NOW.

You can, if you wish, select specific apps to clear – to do this tap Other Apps, then select Clear Cache on the ones you wish to clean up.

Not all Android phones have the same interface and some have separate tools that will help clean up your phone.

My Alcatel 5 came with Smart Manager pre-installed (accessible in Settings), which can be downloaded for any Android device, should you want an easier way to manage your phone files.

Screenshot of Smart Manager app
Smart Manager

3) Turn off animations

A sneaky way to speed up your Android is to turn off transition animations. These little swooshes and swizzles that come as standard aren’t exactly important for the running of the phone, and they can actually slow down less powerful devices.

To turn them off, you must first enable Developer options– go to Settings > About phone > then tap Build numbera few times.

Once this is done, go to Settings > Developer options > now set Window animation scale, Animator duration scale, and Transition animation scale to zero.

4) Enable Lite Mode in Chrome

I used to experience lag when browsing the web from my Alcatel. I thought it was just a fact of life until I discovered Lite Mode in Chrome, a handy function that compresses pages, meaning quicker page loads and reduced data usage. You can find it in Chrome’s Settings menu.

With Lite Mode enabled, I find that pages load much faster, though images are lower quality, which I think is worth it. One thing to note is that the pages are sent to Google for compression before you view them, so if your data speeds are low, you might encounter issues here.

5) Restrict background services

Whenever I open up a new app, my phone asks me whether I want to restrict it. I tend to tick ‘yes’ to keep my phone’s CPU focused on other things. If you’ve allowed your apps to run in the background, you can change this by going to Developer Options > Apps Inactive apps. Now just untick all the apps that don’t need to be active all the time. Don’t worry – each time you manually open an app it will update, so you won’t be losing out.

Screenshot of HP Pring Service Plugin on a mobile
I find the Alcatel’s broken English rather charming

6) Use GPU rendering

Another techy one. This trick forces your Android’s graphics processing unit (GPU) to render some 2D elements that would otherwise be handled by software. To enable it, go to Developer options > Force CPU rendering. This does use a bit more power though, so expect to lose around 10% of your battery life.

The beauty of Android really is the endless customisation available to the user. I hope that you have found these tips useful, whatever device you own. Now go forth, armed with the knowledge that you saved money on your phone, and didn’t compromise on time.