How to pare back the number of apps on your smartphone

How to pare back the number of apps on your smartphone

Unboxing a brand new smartphone is a deeply satisfying occasion, yet it’s often a surprise to discover how many apps are pre-installed onto it.

Some are dictated by the Android or iOS operating systems. Others are manufacturer-specific bloatware, while a few are ‘essential’ third-party apps like Facebook.

Annoyingly, the latter are often undeletable unless you root your smartphone and stray outside the OS rules.

Disabling an app isn’t the same as deleting it. It’s still occupying hard drive space, waiting to spring back to life.

Since many smartphones are only supplied with 32GB of internal storage, that’s a problem for people wanting to add a variety of new apps and media files.

Within a surprisingly short period of time, Device Almost Full notifications may begin appearing, urging you to free up space to avoid slow performance.

More apps also means more battery drain, more pressure on the CPU, and potentially more wear on internal components.

It may be helpful to delete unwanted apps.

How to choose and delete unwanted apps

Start by viewing all the installed apps on your phone.

On Android, go to Settings > Apps and notifications to see a list of installed apps. On iOS, scroll down to the bottom of the Settings page.

Consider which apps you use regularly, and pay attention to file sizes – bigger programs have to accomplish more to justify their presence.

Some apps might be unfamiliar yet essential, while others serve no obvious role. Ensure you’re only deleting apps which won’t materially affect the handset’s operation.

For instance, on Android 11, the Home app is pre-installed and can be deleted. However, if you disable Google Play services, your app store might not function properly.

Although bloatware is irritating on handsets with limited storage, stick to deleting user-installed apps unless chosen software definitely won’t be missed.

Deletion is a two-tap affair, but any associated data will be wiped too. You can’t delete Angry Birds and then reinstall it with your game saves preserved.

Usage policies

To help you delete unwanted apps, consider how often you use specific services.

Almost a quarter of apps are only ever used once, and generally won’t be missed.

Don’t let Spotify consume 136MB of space if you’re never going to use it following an unenjoyable free trial, for instance.

Many apps simply (and unnecessarily) replicate website content. The IMDB app occupies over 100MB of space, yet the desktop site is just as useful.

You could leave a few web browser tabs open with commonly-viewed sites pre-loaded, and save device memory.

Your physical and mental health might even be improved by uninstalling takeaway apps and social media apps, preventing free time descending into cholesterol-soaked bouts of swiping and arguing.

Finally, if space remains a pressing concern, consider if media files could be deleted or uploaded to the cloud, so more apps can survive the cull.

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