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Upgrade your Android Phone without going out to buy a new Phone

by Felix Omondi

We are in the new year 2018, and you can be sure all smartphone makers are working around the clock to launch their latest model; 2018 flagship smartphones if you will. As a consumer, it can be very tempting to go for a new phone each time the brand you are loyal to releases a new one.

You might be an Apple fan or more inclined to the Android platform by Samsung, Nokia, LG, HTC, or whichever other brands. However, most consumers fail to ask them, will the new phone be better than what they already have by the $700 – $1,000 extra you are going to spend on the new flagship model?

Will you be buying a new phone each year or half-year when they release a new phone? If you think not, read on ahead for tips on how to make your old (which is not really old, but just not the most current) phone feel and run like new.

How to Upgrade your Old Phone to feel and run like a New Phone

#1 – Upgrade to a recent Android version

With all honesty, there is no major difference between the older and newer versions of Android mobile OS. Especially, when you are talking about Android ver. 6 to 8. Yes, there are those minor new features and performance optimizations, but as far as apps go, almost all apps running on the latest Android version still run pretty well on older versions.

If you still feel you need to be running the latest Android OS (Oreo), consider buying a smartphone from an OEM who offers regular Android updates. The OEMs who release Android updates to their devices in a timely fashion are as follows:


Google As expected, Google beats other OEMs in pushing out the Android system and security updates. The company has a policy of two years of Android updates and three years of security patches. Even the Nexus 5X and 6P from 2015 have both received the Android Oreo update. Pixel and Pixel XL are now set to receive Android P.
Samsung As the biggest manufacturer of Android smartphones in the world, the South Korean OEMs strive to release updates in a timely fashion.
LG LG does a reasonably good job of pushing out Android security and feature updates, but if you want to be among the first to run the latest version of the OS. You might want to look at some other OEMs, as LG is not precisely in the fast lane of releasing these updates.
Sony Sony, just like LG do a fairly good job of issuing out Android updates. However, they both focus on high-end models. If you are running a mid- to entry-level smartphones, you may never get the updates in time (if at all).


Other OEMs that do a fairly good job in issuing out Android updates include OnePlus, HTC, Motorola, and Nokia. If you want your old phone to run and feel new without going to buy a new one, buy from the OEMs named above; though most updates come quicker for the high-end models.

Option 2, install custom ROM

If your OEM is not listed above, and they are notorious for delaying or never issuing Android upgrades for old phones. You can always take the hard road and install a custom ROM. Lineage OS comes highly recommended by most reviewers. With Lineage OS you get to run a more-up-to-date Android OS than what your device is officially designated for, it comes with the latest security updates, and there are extra features (for privacy and security) that you will not find anywhere else.

For top-notch privacy and security features (and regular updates) you might also want to try CopperheadOS instead of Lineage OS.smartphone

#2 – Get a new Launcher

Installing a custom ROM is not for everyone (it’s somewhat technical), neither do all devices allow it. Another route you can take to make your device feel and run like new is by installing a new Launcher. A simpler and readily available option for anyone.

Each Launcher comes with its unique UI for your home screen and app drawer, giving your device a fresh new look. Some Launcher comes with great customization options with icon packs support and icon sized differently in grids.smartphone

Some of the best Launcher as per reviewers include Action Launcher, Microsoft Launcher, and Nova.

#3 – Extend your Smartphone Memory using microSD card

It is really amazing to see most people think they need a new phone simply because their old phone is running out of memory. While a simple microSD card inserted into their phone will take care of the problem fast and cheaply.

After buying and inserting your microSD card into your phone, you can use this trick we shared earlier [moving apps from internal storage to microSD card]. You will have more space on your internal storage, and apps will be running smoother and faster. Problem solved!smartphone

No microSD Card slot? Then go Cloud

Unfortunately, some OEMs, even those well-reputed like Samsung and Apple don’t provide the option of extending your smartphone using microSD card. If that is the type of device you are working on, then worry not, the cloud can serve just fine.

Although you will not have the option of moving your apps to the cloud (and run them from there), you still can free up space by moving your videos, photos, and documents to the cloud. Whenever you need to use them, you will have to download them from the cloud; then have them uploaded again.

Open your Google Photos up and go to Menu > Free up space > Free up and have all photos and videos already backed up to your Photos account and are more than 30 days old be deleted from your phone. You will only have them in your Google Drive Photos folder, but they will no longer occupy space on your phone.

As for your MP3 files, you can upload them to your Google Play Music, and they will be deleted from your device. Whenever you want to listen to them, simply stream them from the cloud.

#4 – Speed up a Slow Phone

smartphoneAll smartphones do slow down with time. Not because the hardware is getting slow, but because with time, your smartphone accumulates a lot of blot and inefficiencies. Still, that is not enough reason to go out and buy a new phone; not when you can speed up that slow phone.

The easiest and surest way to speed up a slowing phone is by performing a factory reset. Doing so will remove all the apps you have installed and return it to its out-of-the-box condition. However, before doing that, make sure you backed up all your important data, as factory reset deletes everything stored locally on your phone.

#5 – Improve your Camera quality

The camera is the one thing that improves consistently with the release of each succeeding smartphone. It is reason enough for some folks to go out and buy the flagship phone for that year, and dump their last year’s phone; which barely even 8 months old.

While there is absolutely nothing, you can do about your current smartphone’s camera sensor size or aperture. There still options for improving your current phone’s camera quality.

Software upgrade route

What makes a good camera phone picture is both the hardware and software aspects of the phone. While you cannot import the hardware features of another phone to yours (especially if they are of different brand and model), the software front offers more leeway. You can download and install some of those useful software in the good camera phones that make them take killer pictures.

The HDR+ feature on Google Pixel phones is one such best camera software you can readily install in just about any other Android phone. Even the Google Camera app dedicated to the Pixel devices, you can get a modded version that works in devices powered by Snapdragon 820 and 835 chips. These are devices like Samsung Galaxy S8, LG G6, OnePlus 3T, 5, and 5T.

Hardware upgrade route

Though cumbersome, you can also upgrade some aspects of your phone camera’s hardware features. Take, for instance, the Sony detachable lenses we featured in the past. Other options include fisheye, macro, telephoto, and wide lenses.smartphone

#6 – Short and unreliable Battery Life

Isn’t battery life the curse of smart mobile devices? The technology evolution of battery manufacturing is several millenniums behind the pace at which mobile devices are getting more powerful.

Most smartphones have battery life problems; though some OEMs have really tried making reliable batteries, the best you can get on a smartphone is perhaps two days. Coming from a generation of feature phones which used to push a week plus on a single charge, smartphone sure seems like a bad joke.

Even so, battery life tends to deteriorate with time; the more charge cycles they undergo, the less time they take before draining out flat. Your options for addressing this problem are limited; either you swap your aging battery with a new (original) one from the manufacturer. Though this might be hard if the OEM makes devices with non-removable back cover; in which case you will have to take it to authorized dealer or service center.

You can also uninstall apps that drain your battery fast; such as those that keep running in the background even when your screen is off.

Sometimes the choice to go out and buy a new phone is motivated by the urge to use the (few) new features and improvement that comes with flagship releases. It might not be that you cannot do a while longer on your old device. Another way to go at it is to look into the used phones market in search of the latest device with beefy features at a fraction of a new one.

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