Avast Academy Performance Speed How to Speed Up Your Phone’s Slow Data & Internet: Reasons & Fixes

How to Speed Up Your Phone’s Slow Data & Internet: Reasons & Fixes

Whenever we need to look something up or want to stream a quick video, nothing is more frustrating than a slow mobile data connection. Here, you’ll learn why your phone internet is slow and how to fix slow data. And if you’re on Android, we’ve even got a special software tool to boost mobile internet speed.

Written by Ivan Belcic and Nica Latto
Published on September 13, 2022
Reviewed by Sandro Villinger

Key takeaways

Follow the tips below to help boost your phone's internet speed:

  • Use a different browser, restart your phone, or reset network settings.

  • Disable unnecessary background apps draining data.

  • Clear your browser cache and use an ad blocker for smoother browsing.

  • Update your phone's software and scan for malware.

Why is the internet so slow on my phone?

A slow data connection on your phone is usually caused by a poor connection in your location, network congestion, or too many background apps running. Slow iOS or Android internet is a familiar problem for smartphone owners, and there are many reasons why your phone internet is slow.

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    Here are a few reasons that might be causing slow data:

    • Poor connection in your location: With bad reception — “no bars” — you’ll have a hard time connecting to your mobile data service. And if you’re on a public Wi-Fi network, you might be competing with many other people for bandwidth. Changing your location and moving elsewhere may give you faster internet.

    • Too much traffic on your network: Wi-Fi and cellular connection speeds are faster when fewer people are on your network. If too many devices are hogging up bandwidth, your network connection speed will slow down.

    • Too many active apps or tabs: Too many demands on your data connection will result in speed reductions across the board. Even the fastest mobile data plans can’t keep up with dozens of tabs and background apps. If your 4G or 5G connection is slow, this might be the reason.

    • Problems with your cache: Your browser stores data in a cache so that it can quickly load the websites you frequently visit. While this should speed up your internet experience, issues with your cached data could have the opposite effect.

    • Your network settings need a reset: Your phone’s network settings may be causing your internet slowdown. Sometimes, these settings can get mixed up, which will leave your mobile internet much slower — even if you think your 5G speeds are top notch. We’ll show you how to reset your network settings to speed up your phone’s connection.

    This article will help you troubleshoot all these issues and more to boost your mobile data speed. If your phone’s internet speed is slow on Wi-Fi (rather than data roaming), check out our tips to speed up your home internet connection.

    For iOS users, navigate directly to our iOS sections:

    For Android users, navigate directly to our Android sections:

    LTE vs 4G speeds

    4G speeds (up to 1,000Mbps) are significantly faster than original LTE speeds (100 Mbps) on mobile. If your phone is 4G-capable (or even 5G), but seems like it’s stuck on a LTE, 3G, or even 2G connection, this may be the cause of your slow internet.

    Try resetting your network settings on iOS to increase download speeds. It may also help to make 4G faster on Android.

    If you’re on a 4G network in a crowded area, network congestion can cause your data speeds to slow to a crawl. Try switching to a less-busy 3G network, which may actually speed up your internet.

    What about 5G speeds? Why is my 5G so slow?

    5G rollout promised speeds 600 times faster than 4G networks. But, 5G connections are often slow due to less dedicated bandwidth for 5G networks vs. 4G or LTE networks, which are still more widely used. Until there’s more demand from mobile carriers, 5G will likely remain slow in certain areas.

    How to make your mobile data faster

    Now that we know why your internet is so slow on your phone, let’s boost your mobile internet speed. Here, we’ll show you the best tricks to get faster data speeds on both Android and iOS devices.

    Try the following tips to increase your mobile data speed:

    1. Restart your phone

    A quick restart can solve more problems than you think. And it might also make your 4G or 5G connection faster on your Android and iOS. Similar to restarting your phone, you can also quickly activate Airplane mode or reset your network settings to boost slow data speeds.

    Restarting your phone on iOS

    On iOS, hold down the power button and slide the power icon at the top of the screen to the right.

    Powering off an iPhone 6S running iOS 13.4.1

    After your phone powers off, wait a few seconds and then hold down the power button again to turn it back on.

    Restarting your phone on Android

    To restart your Android phone, hold down the power button and power off or restart.

    Powering off or rebooting an Android phone.

    How to activate Airplane Mode on iOS

    Similar to restarting your phone, enabling Airplane Mode can reset your device’s internet connection if your phone internet is slow. Airplane Mode disables your phone’s wireless capabilities, including your mobile data and Wi-Fi connection. Turn Airplane Mode on and off to see if your internet gets any faster. If so, you’ve successfully figured out how to make your phone internet faster with a simple tap of a button.

    To turn on Airplane mode on iOS, swipe up from the bottom of your screen (or down from the top-right of your screen if you have an iPhone 13) to open the Control Center. Then tap the airplane icon. Tap it again to disable Airplane mode — your slow Wi-Fi connection and mobile data are now reset.

    Activating Airplane Mode in the Control Center on iOS 13.4.1

    How to activate Airplane Mode on Android

    Depending on which Android device you have, the process may vary slightly. Generally, you simply swipe down from the top of the screen to access Quick Settings. Tap the airplane icon to activate airplane mode, then tap it again to deactivate it. This can boost your mobile data speeds.

    Activating airplane mode on Android.

    How to reset your network settings on iOS

    Resetting your network settings returns your phone’s internet configurations to their default states, allowing your phone to “start from scratch” — then you can choose 5G, 4G, 3G, or LTE if your data is still slow. You may need to re-enter your Wi-Fi passwords and other saved information, because this might be cleared as part of the reset.

    1. Open Settings and tap General. Scroll down and choose Reset.

      Navigating to the Reset options in the General Settings in iOS 13.4.1
    2. Tap Reset Network Settings.

    3. When prompted, enter your passcode, then select Reset Network Settings to confirm.

      Resetting network settings in iOS 13.4.1

    How to reset your network settings on Android

    The way to reset your network settings on Android may vary depending on which phone you have. Here are instructions for resetting network settings on a Google Pixel.

    1. Open Settings and tap System (it may be called General Management on other Android devices). Then, tap Advanced.

      Opening advanced device settings in Android (Google Pixel 2).
    2. Select Reset options (it may be called Reset network settings) > Reset Wi-Fi mobile & Bluetooth.

      Resetting Wi-Fi, mobile data, & Bluetooth on Android (Google Pixel 2).
    3. Tap Reset settings at the bottom of the screen and confirm.

      Resetting network settings in Android (Google Pixel 2).

    2. Find the top mobile data–draining apps

    Even when you’re not using it, an app might still slow you down. Many apps remain active in the background, consuming background data along with system resources, storage space, and bandwidth. Here’s how to find the apps draining your data.

    How to find data-draining apps on iOS

    1. Open Settings and tap Cellular (or Mobile Data).

      Accessing the Cellular Data settings with in the Settings app in iOS 13.5.1.
    2. Scroll down to the Cellular Data (or Mobile Data) section. Here, you’ll see how much mobile data you’ve used in the current period — that is, since your last reset. You’ll also see how much data each app has used. You can stop an app from using mobile data by toggling the switch next to it.

      Viewing mobile data usage per app within the Cellular settings in iOS 13.5.1.
    3. Scroll down to see when your current period began. To start fresh, tap Reset Statistics and tap again to confirm. You can begin a new current period at the start of your billing cycle to see how much data your apps use during that time.

      Resetting mobile data statistics in the Cellular settings in iOS 13.5.1.

    How to find data-draining apps on Android

    The steps for finding data-draining apps on Android differ depending on your device. Generally, you can open Settings and search for App data usage. On Samsung phones, app data usage stats are in individual app settings. Here’s how to find data-draining apps on a Xiaomi Redmi Note 10.

    1. Open Settings > Connections & sharing. Then, tap Data usage.

      Selecting Data usage in Connection Settings on Android.
    2. Scroll down to see your top data-draining apps and select an app to force stop.

      App data usage settings in Android.

    When you’re on a data connection, you can stop using these apps. But many of them run in the background even when you aren’t actively using them. Now let’s learn how to disable background apps.

    3. Turn off inactive background apps and programs

    Now that you’ve identified the data-draining apps above, you can prevent them from running in the background — and consuming your phone’s data, battery life, and other resources.

    Turning off unnecessary apps by disabling the Background App Refresh feature can help to speed up your connection. You’ll likely also find that disabling background apps will speed up your iPhone or get your Android running faster.

    How to disable background apps on iOS

    1. Open Settings > General. Then, select Background App Refresh.

      Opening the Background App Refresh settings from the General Settings in iOS 13.4.1
    2. To configure an individual app, toggle its corresponding switch. A green switch means that Background App Refresh is enabled, and a gray switch means that it’s disabled.

      Toggling individual Background App Refresh settings in iOS 13.4.1
    3. To disable the Background App Refresh function for all apps, tap Background App Refresh. Then, select whether you want to allow apps to refresh on Wi-Fi and mobile data, Wi-Fi only, or not at all.

      Choosing a Background App Refresh mode in iOS 13.4.1

    How to disable background apps on Android

    Most of the latest Android phones are already optimized to prevent background apps from draining your resources. But some apps may still have to run in the background to maintain their functionality.

    Sometimes a particular app might end up draining your battery, despite your phone’s best attempt to optimize background processes. Here’s how to rein in a problematic app and disable its background data use on a Samsung Galaxy S21.

    1. Open Settings > Apps and select the problematic app.

      Select a problematic app from App settings to force stop it or restrict background data usage.
    2. You can Force stop the app, but it will likely reopen the next time you restart your phone. To permanently stop the app from running in the background, tap Mobile data and make sure Allow background data usage is toggled off.

      Force quitting or disallowing background data usage for an app on Android (Samsung Galaxy S21).
    3. Repeat this process for any apps you want to prevent from running in the background.

    You can also use the Data Saver feature to reduce how much data all apps send and receive while you’re using mobile data.

    1. Navigate to Settings > Connections (Network & internet on some devices) and tap Data usage.

      Opening Data usage settings on Android (Samsung Galaxy s21).
    2. Tap Data Saver and toggle on the Turn on now switch.

      Toggle on Data Saver to ensure all background data is restricted to all Android apps by default.

    Tip: If you have an older device that isn’t optimized to prevent background processes, navigate to Settings > Device Care > Memory and look for a button that says Clean Now (Free up memory by stopping background apps).

    4. Pause resource-draining apps the easy way

    While you can go through the steps outlined above to find your most resource-draining apps and change the settings one by one, you can automate the process with a dedicated cleaning tool. Here’s how to stop apps from draining your phone’s data with Avast Cleanup for Android.

    1. Download and install Avast Cleanup.

    2. Tap Apps.

    3. Under Drainers you’ll see the apps draining most of your data, storage, and battery. Tap Data. (The app may need to run for a few days to get accurate app-usage stats.)

      The main data-draining app summary on Avast Cleanup for Android.
    4. Select any data-draining apps you don’t want running in the background and tap Force stop. You can do the same for apps that hog storage resources or drain your battery.

      Hibernating the top data-draining apps in Avast Cleanup.
    5. Now go back to the main screen on Avast Cleanup and hit Quick Clean. This will run a scan that identifies all the hidden clutter on your phone, such as invisible cache files, temporary files, unnecessary files like downloaded songs or videos you no longer need, browser caches, bloatware, and other junk files.

    With Avast Cleanup, you can easily and automatically clean up your Android phone and get more space with just a few taps. This will reduce drain on your data, CPU, and battery, which should help boost your phone’s internet speed. If you’re on iOS, check out our guide to cleaning up your iPhone.

    5. Install an ad blocker

    Ad blockers improve your internet experience by stopping annoying ads from popping up and distracting you. You may also find that websites load faster when they don’t have to load ads along with the actual content you want to see.

    Before installing any third-party software on your iOS or Android device, consult professional or user reviews. Another way to block ads is to switch to a web browser that blocks them automatically.

    Avast Secure Browser has a built-in feature called Privacy Guard that blocks ads and trackers so the sites you visit load faster. Plus, Avast Secure Browser has a range of other features that strengthen your privacy and security. Install it for free today.

    6. Clear the cache on your mobile browser

    A full browser cache won’t directly affect your internet speed, but it can affect your device’s performance and make everything, including your data speeds, slower. Clearing out your phone, including its browser cache, can help it get a fresh start.

    How to clear your browser cache depends on which browser you’re using. Here, we’ll show how to clear your cache in Safari on iOS and in Chrome on Android. For more, check out our complete guide to cleaning up your Android cache.

    How to clear your cache in Safari on iOS

    1. Open Settings and tap Safari.

      Opening the Safari settings from the Settings menu in iOS 13.4.1
    2. To clear your browser history, delete cookies, and clean up your cache at once, scroll and select Clear Website History and Data. Tap Clear History and Data to confirm.

      Clearing the history and website data in the Safari settings in iOS 13.4.1

    If you want to clear your cache while leaving your browsing history intact, here’s how:

    1. From your Safari settings, scroll down and select Advanced > Website Data.

      Opening the advanced Website Data settings for Safari in iOS 13.4.1
    2. Scroll and tap Remove All Website Data. Tap Remove Now to confirm.

      Removing all website data in Safari for iOS 13.4.1

    How to clear your cache in Chrome on Android

    1. Open Chrome, tap the three dots in the top right, and select History.

      Opening settings in Chrome on Android.
    2. Tap Clear browsing data.

      Viewing your internet history in Chrome on Android.
    3. In the Time range menu, choose All time. Check the box for Cached images and files and hit Clear data.

      Clearing your cache and other browsing data in Chrome on Android.

    7. Enter your browser's Reader Mode

    Many browsers offer a text-based mode designed to make websites easier to read. Switching to your browser’s reader mode can improve websites’ loading speeds, since you won’t be loading many of their graphical and other resource-heavy elements.

    How to use Reader Mode in Safari on iOS

    1. Navigate to your desired website in Safari on your iOS device. Then, tap the AA icon to the left of the address bar and select Show Reader View. If that option is grayed out, then the website you’re using doesn’t support Reader Mode functionality.

      You can also long-press the two AA icon in the address bar to switch immediately to Reader Mode.

      Switching to Reader Mode in Safari on iOS 13.4.1

    You can also configure Safari to load websites in Reader Mode by default. Here’s how:

    1. Open device Settings > Safari, scroll down, and select Reader.

      Opening the Reader Mode settings for Safari on iOS 13.4.1
    2. Toggle on the switch for All Websites to load every website in Reader Mode.

      Activating Reader Mode for all websites in Safari on iOS 13.4.1

    How to use Reader Mode in Chrome on Android

    1. Open Chrome, tap the three dots in the top-right corner, and hit Settings. Then tap Accessibility.

      Opening Accessibility settings in Chrome on Android.
    2. Check the box for Simplified view for web pages.

      Enabling Reader View in Accessibility settings in Chrome on Android.
    3. Now when you open an article that supports Reader Mode, a bar at the bottom of the screen will display asking you if you’d like to use Reader Mode. Tap Show simplified view.

      Viewing the option for simplified view in Chrome on Android.

    8. Try to find a Wi-Fi connection

    If your mobile data plan is consistently delivering phone internet that’s too slow, try switching to Wi-Fi. You may find that Wi-Fi data speed is slow on your phone as well, but that’s usually a problem with the Wi-Fi network itself, not your phone.

    Sometimes, your only Wi-Fi options are public Wi-Fi networks. Remember that these networks are often unsecured — meaning your internet traffic on public Wi-Fi is not encrypted and may be intercepted.

    Other users or cybercriminals on the same network can easily eavesdrop on your online activities and help themselves to your data, including any sensitive personal information like credit card numbers and login credentials. Whenever you’re using public Wi-Fi, use a VPN to protect your data with bank-grade encryption.

    9. Scan for malware

    Sluggish internet could be a sign that your phone’s infected with malware, in which case reduced download speeds are the least of your worries. A common hacking ploy is hiding spyware inside fake apps that consume significant amounts of bandwidth by uploading stolen data from your device.

    Run a scan with a dedicated mobile cybersecurity tool to detect and remove any malware that’s lurking in your phone and throttling your internet speeds. Then, make sure you have Avast Mobile Security for Android or iOS installed for ongoing protection against malicious apps and other threats.

    Other ways to boost your phone's Internet speed

    If none of the above tips has worked and you’re still searching for how to raise your internet speed, here are a couple more tricks to try.

    • Switch browsers. Experiment with different browsers and see if one of them is faster. The world of internet browsers is much bigger than just Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. And, some browsers are faster than others.

    • Update your phone’s software. Whether you’re running Android or iOS, always update your phone to the most current version of its operating system to get the fastest speeds. An updated OS is also more secure, because developers frequently issue updates to patch vulnerabilities that can lead to exploits.

    • Back up and restore your phone. Consider this a last resort if nothing else in this article has worked. Back up your phone — Android and iOS both offer cloud-based backup platforms — then reset your device to its factory settings. Afterwards, you’ll be able to restore all your data from your backup.

    Give your phone a fresh start with Avast Cleanup

    We’ve got one final internet fix for Android users — our very own Avast Cleanup. It’s your all-in-one performance booster that’ll make sure you get the most out of your Android device.

    Avast Cleanup can deliver up to 12GB more storage space, 60% more battery life, and 20% more speed. When your phone is blazing along as light and fast as the day you bought it, your internet experience will feel a whole lot faster too. Install Avast Cleanup for free today and get a smoother, speedier mobile experience.

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    Ivan Belcic and Nica Latto