Use this one simple trick to speed up your old iPhone or iPad

Is your old iPhone or iPad starting to feel a little sluggish? Here's a tried and tested way to speed up an iPhone or iPad that's simple to do and is only going to cost you a little time.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

Have you owned your iPhone or iPad for a couple of years? Is it starting to feel a little sluggish? Here's a tip that might allow you to squeeze an extra year or so from your existing hardware.

Over the years a lot of electrons have been spilt on the subject of making an iPhone or iPad faster, and let me tell you that most of them are just snake oil. No, Apple hasn't built some secret switch into iOS that only Tim Cook and his buddies know about.

That said, there is a tried and tested way to speed up an iPhone or iPad that's simple to do and only going to cost you some time. And it works for all versions of iOS, all the way to the latest iOS 12.

Here's what you do: Wipe the device and reload the data from a backup.

I told you it was simple.

Top 10 iOS 12.1 features you should try out today

Some pointers before you go all hog wild and wipe all your data.

  • MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A BACKUP! You can either create a local backup using iTunes, or back up to iCloud by going to Settings > iCloud > Backup, and then turning on iCloud Backup. If you don't have a backup then you're going to have to reload your stuff manually, and that's going to take a lot longer.
  • This process is going to take some time, so put aside a couple of hours where you won't be disturbed or need your iPhone or iPad.
  • The longer it has been since your iPhone or iPad was wiped (or new) the more mileage you'll get out of this tip. Normally, this is something I do once a year.

The process is easy to carry out:

  • Familiarize yourself with the process before you start.
  • Make sure you have a backup!
  • Once that is done, wipe your device (Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings, and from there you'll be guided through the wiping process).
  • Let the reset process do its thing. This should be done in seconds.
  • Now you're ready to recover from a backup.

I've carried this out many times, and the results have always been quite noticeable.

Another thing you can do if you're feeling braver and have more time on your hands is to wipe your device and then set it up as a new device (which means you reload all your apps and data into it manually). I tend to do this when:

  • I purchase a new device
  • When a new version of iOS is released

I find that when I do this I experience far fewer problems following the release of new hardware or software, and it also gives me a chance to purge myself of apps and data that I no longer use (my devices tend to accumulate a lot of detritus; your may be different).

That said, be aware that you will have to set up everything -- apps, passwords, settings, Bluetooth pairings, etc -- from scratch. If you're not up to that task, or just don't have the time, then this is not for you.

Apple, you really need to fix these stupidly outdated iOS design decisions

See also:

Editorial standards