GS5Header

If you’re coming to a Galaxy S5 from a Nexus 5 (as I am), or something else that’s similarly speedy, it can feels like the whole world is moving just a little slower. I expect my gadgets to perform tasks I ask of them quickly and efficiently – what exactly am I supposed to do while waiting for a task to finish, right?

If you’re finding the Galaxy S5 isn’t quite up to speed, you’ve got two options. Firstly, complain. Talk to your friends about it, get on social media, forums or tech blogs and have a great big whinge. You get a bit of cathartic relief but in the end you’ll still be unhappy because your phone is s   l   o   w. I’m not judging anyone here – I’ve done this myself!

Option B, however, might be slightly more productive. Use the tools, settings and features of your phone to speed it up (by the way, you can still use this option even if you chose Option A first ;)).

1. Grab a new launcher

Samsung’s TouchWiz launcher has some neat tricks, but it also has some infuriating limitations, and some of them are specific to Australian devices. One of the great things about Android is the fact that you can change a number of things about the phone, and the launcher software is one of them. Switching the launcher can make your phone feel like new.

My personal favourite is the Google Now Launcher. Having come from the Nexus 5, I found I missed my left-swipe quick access to Google’s predictive assistant, but you can’t install it directly from Google Play yourself – not yet, anyway. Don’t worry though, you can download the APK here and sideload it on your device.

Other launchers favoured by the Ausdroid team include Action Launcher, Nova Launcher, Apex Launcher and Aviate.

We haven’t actually changed any settings here to speed up your Galaxy S5, but changing the launcher can drastically improve the perceived speed of your system by making it easier to accomplish certain tasks. The launcher is one of the most personal aspects of your device, so experiment with a few and see which one takes your fancy.

2. Disable S Voice Double Tap

One of the reasons your Galaxy S5 might not respond immediately to a tap on the home button is that it’s waiting to see if you’re double-tapping the button to launch S Voice instead of going to your home screen. It’s a slight delay, but it can be quite frustrating for users – and you can turn it off.

You can disable this in Settings > Applications > S Voice – untick Open via the home key.

Before you proceed with the other steps below, you’ll need to enable developer options on your phone.

  1. Navigate to Settings > System > About device and scroll down to Build number.
  2. Tap Build Number 7 times (really) and voila – you’re a developer!
  3. Go back to Settings > System and Developer options should now be there
  4. Tap into Developer options and say yes when you’re asked if you want to turn it on

3. Use ART runtime

When Android executes an application, it uses an runtime environment to execute it. The standard one Android uses is called Dalvik, but you can enable Google’s newer, experimental runtime called ART (Android RunTime). Changing to ART requires a reboot, and it’ll take some time on first boot to precompile all your installed apps. After that though, it’s generally believed to be faster than Dalvik and with battery life benefits.

Occasionally you may come across an app that doesn’t run properly under ART. If that happens, you’ll have to switch back to Dalvik, but developers are increasingly fixing ART incompatibilities in their apps, and ART itself is improving over time as well.

You can change this setting under Developer Options. It’s in the first few items in the list.

4. Animation Scale

Again found in Developer Options under Drawing, changing the animation scale values can make things open and close more quickly, at the expense of the pretty animations that occur when switching apps and the like. That’s usually a pretty good trade-off.

The settings you’re after are Window animation scale, Transition animation scale and Animator duration scale and I’ve found it’s best to change them from 1x to 0.5x. If you’re prepared to sacrifice animations altogether, you can select Animation off for each item.

5. Limit background processes

By default Android will stop background processes as it sees fit. If you start up an app that needs a lot of memory then other apps in the background will be killed to make space for it. You can limit the number of background processes by making Android a little more aggressive with its memory management. This will mean more resources are freed up, and might even save some battery life.

Under Developer Options, find Apps and then Limit background processes. I’m using At most 4 processes, but it’s up to you how far you want to go. I’d suggest working at it gradually like you would with overclocking, if that makes sense.


If you’ve gotten this far, you should notice a healthy speed-up in the interface and you should see more free RAM available. Let us know how you go in the comments!

  • JeniSkunk

    Needing to do all this, straight out of the shrinkwrap to fix the shortcomings of a brand new released device, shows just how poorly it was factory configured

    • Conan

      yep. “five tips to fix your brand new phone!”

      • Glenn B-May

        No. 5 tips on how to make a market leading phone better.

        • Jason

          Every blog I read that a person writes for a positive always seems to get people that have to add some negativity. He was simply saying five simple things to make your our device better.. What’s wrong with just saying thanks for the info man.. And for the others.. Just don’t buy one, or return the one you have.. Go spread your rain somewhere else.. Ya ya freedom of speech free country I got it.. But he’s trying to be a solution.. And you (Negative blog hackers) are the . With my freedom of speech I say “why so serious” and Thank you for the info it’s worth a shot :)

        • Jason

          Sorry Glenn this was in no way meant or aimed at you.. I just was adding to the conversation as a newby:p

    • derp

      You dont ‘need’ to do this at all though.

    • Sean Royce

      Are you negative about every device that’s ever released? No phone will ever be perfect.

      • Phil_A_Shio

        “Are you negative about every device that’s ever released?”

        I don’t think that needed to be asked, i’ve yet to see her post anything positive on here lol

        • Sean Royce

          Same. I like things about all different devices. Keeps it fresh.

    • whispy_snippet

      Exactly.

      While the tips here are all worthwhile and useful, it simply underlines what a terrible job Samsung do with their software. They have one of the gruntiest phones on the market in terms of specs – there simply shouldn’t be any need for this. It’s inexcusable. The inflated cost for a sub-par user experience simply adds insult to injury.

      And yet it’s this damn phone that will continue to rule the Android roost. The worst Android flagship available.

  • frente69

    Are you sure point 5 is worthwhile?

    I’m not an expert but I beleive RAM power requirements don’t change depending on how much of it is being used.

    I’m also pretty sure Android memory management takes care of closing apps as needed to free up memory when required from 4.0 onwards. Backgrounded apps don’t normally drain battery unless they are designed to (like music players and download apps for example). Android will “pause” them.

    If you open an app that isn’t currently in memory it needs to load it from storage rather than ram which causes the app to load slower and use more battery as stuff is being transferred from storage to ram. Of course this only applies if you run the same apps regularly. If you load 100 different apps one after the other then they will need to be loaded from scratch each time.

    • http://twitter.com/gfieldew geoff fieldew

      No we’re not sure and we’re certainly not making such a claim. We’ve put together some suggestions for people who have the phone to try out.

  • http://twitter.com/gfieldew geoff fieldew

    Just so we’re clear guys, the Galaxy S5 that I’m using isn’t by definition slow or laggy. It’s a fraction slower than a more streamlined phone like a Nexus 5. We’re not talking anything serious here. I doubt there’s more than a handful of phones on the Australian market that I could call even slightly more responsive.

    The S5 has plenty of performance for 99% of the population I’d venture to guess. These tips I’ve given are for those who want to eke out a fraction more speed so they feel like their experience is about on par with a Nexus 5.

    Yes, you’ll get some occasional noticeable latency (1 second wait maybe) in the Gallery. This was more pronounced on a demo phone I used a couple of weeks ago. The retail model I have performs responsively throughout the OS.

  • Joshua Hill

    2 tips to speed up your Galaxy S5

    1) Install a custom OS rom, I used to really like slimbean/slimkat on my SGS2.

    if your not comfortable with that

    2) Buy a different phone.

    With the power of modern hardware and the reduced footprint of kit-kat there is no excuse for releasing software that lags.

    Having said that I haven’t had a chance to try the S5. I know people used to complain about lag on older Galaxy S devices. I owned an S2 for 2 & 1/2 years and could occasionally notice lag when I had stock OS but I never once wished I’d purchased a different phone.

  • Chris B

    Changed my runtime to ART and it BRICKED my phone. Sat in a loop of ‘android.process.acore has stopped’ until it would re-boot itself and do the same thing over and over again. I have no clue what to do and my phone is now unusable. Thanks a lot…

  • audadi

    Thankss!!