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How To Get iOS 7 Running Faster on Older iPhones

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iOS 7 Running Faster on Older iPhones

The new iPhone 5S and 5C are amazingly fast devices. These wonders of technology run Apple’s newest iteration of iOS, iOS 7, with ease and speed. What about everyone with an iPhone 4? These are still amazing phones and shouldn’t be left out in the cold, especially since many organizations and businesses still use them and that it is only 3 years old, having come out in the summer of 2010.

Apple knew that the iPhone 4 lacked the graphics processing needed to fully run iOS 7 and as such, limited many of the graphically intense features like Parallax from being available.  Even with this, there have been many reports of iOS 7 bogging down the iPhone 4 and with the window to downgrade to iOS 6 closed, people with the iPhone 4 are scrambling to find a fix for their slow phones.

It is possible to get iOS 7 running faster on the iPhone 4 and below are a few of the best tips out there on how to get iOS 7 running faster on older iPhones. These tips can even work on the 4S, which has a small amount of iOS 7 lag.

Background App Refresh

This is one of those features that sounds great on paper, but when using an older device turns into a nightmare. Unless you’re on the newest iPhone 5S or iPhone 5C, this feature will only slow down your phone and drain battery life. To turn this off, simply go to Settings > General > Background App Refresh. Set this to Off and you should notice the difference immediately, if not with a restart.

Storage Space

iPhone memory storage

Making sure your iPhone has at least 1/3rd of its total storage space available can help the device run quicker. This isn’t so much an iOS 7 fix, but an overall best practice. To check storage on the iPhone, go to Settings > General > Usage. Here, you can see how much you have available versus used.

Restore Settings

Reset iPhone SettingsResetting Network settings as well as Network Settings is a great way to give a little more life to your phone. This can help with speed and battery as the iPhone may search for networks less, and any settings you may have left on in iOS 6 that were fine there, will default once you do this.  Make sure your device is fully backed up before doing this.

You should be aware that this will reset ALL settings on your iPhone. That means Wi-Fi networks, passwords, and all user settings will go back to the day the phone was purchased, so to speak.

To restore settings, go to Settings > General > Reset and first choose Reset Network Settings. You’ll get a warning; just choose Reset Network Settings again to continue.

Once this runs, go back to the Reset menu but this time choose Reset All Settings. Click through the warning again and all your iPhone settings should now be set to their defaults.

Location Services

iPhone Location ServicesiOS 7 has some great features that allows for the phone to run location services in the background to help with navigation and to let you know when you are close to something as well as local news, apps, and traffic. This is great, but it drains a fair bit of battery life and ties up a little processing power.

To turn this off, head over to Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services and turn as many of these off as you see fit. Each one you turn off will help with both battery and speed. (note: the image below was taken on an iPhone 5, so some settings may not be present.)

Full Reinstall

If all else fails and you still aren’t getting the speed you think you should have, a full re-install of iOS might be in order. (note: Please make sure you 100% know your data is backed up before doing this. This will erase EVERYTHING on your iPhone, so if it isn’t backed up, it’ll be gone.)

To do a full restore, first make sure you have the newest version of iTunes installed. Next, fully back up your iPhone, making sure that everything synced correctly, including pictures and apps.

Once the iPhone is backed up and synced, select the device from the sidebar in iTunes. Click the Summary tab and then the Restore iPhone button.


A warning will appear. Click Restore to continue.

Restore iPhone Warning

This will restore the iPhone to its original state with none of your data on it. Once this is complete and the iPhone is showing in iTunes again, select the iPhone from the sidebar and click on the File menu > Devices > Restore From Backup.


Choose the backup you just completed and allow the phone to restore once again. This can take a fair bit of time, depending on how much data you have on your iPhone. (note: some people say this extra step of restoring to new then to the backup is unnecessary, but it helps guarantee the software on the iPhone is fully new.)

iPhone Restore Backup

Once the iPhone restores to your backup, it will sync and start putting all your apps and media back on the device. Once this is done, you should have a fresh, quicker iPhone.


In today’s world of new devices every year, having an iPhone 4 seems antiquated and old, but in all actuality, this is only a three year old device, and as such, should really have a lot of life left in it.

Try these tricks out to see if you can breath a little more life into your iPhone 4 and 4S and maybe you can enjoy a little iOS 7 love, too. Have a tip you think helps iOS 7 run better on the iPhone 4 or 4S? Leave it in the comments below.

Kokou Adzo

Kokou Adzo

Kokou Adzo is a stalwart in the tech journalism community, has been chronicling the ever-evolving world of Apple products and innovations for over a decade. As a Senior Author at Apple Gazette, Kokou combines a deep passion for technology with an innate ability to translate complex tech jargon into relatable insights for everyday users.

3 thoughts on “How To Get iOS 7 Running Faster on Older iPhones

  1. These steps helped my phone speed up quite a bit. I did everything except the full reinstall. Thanks for the tips.

  2. Great advice column, with great tips! As to the last one, though, alas, there is no way of knowing or even ensuring 100% of everything is backed up!

    There are apps such as ShuBook that do not preserve eBooks or bookmarks and others such as Starmap Pro that cache downloaded photos and do not back them up.

    Wish that Apple provided a way of doing a bit-level copy of an i-device– much as Carbon Copy Cloner does for the Mac! Then, one really could confident of not losing anything!

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