Optimizing iOS7 On Your iPhone 4S

An example of iOS7 on the iPhone 5.

When I bought my iPhone 4S, I was astounded by its speed. Coming from the absolutely horrendous Samsung Galaxy S Continuum, though, I suppose anything would have felt zippy in comparison. That being said, even compared to my Nexus 7 (2012), my iPhone felt more polished, snappier, and above all else, easier to use (as much as I love my tablet, there's no question Apple has a talent for making intuitive mobile operating systems).

As time wore on, the phone began slowing down. It wasn't noticeable at first, but became progressively worse over time. The first culprit was iOS7. Despite adding some much needed functionality to the operating system, it made my 4S perform a bit below my standards (though it still felt faster than nearly every budget Android handset on the market), with lag popping up in the text interface, safari, and even while doing simple things like opening up new apps. It was still a decent phone, though it was nowhere near how fluid it used to be under iOS6, and I started wishing I'd splurged on the iPhone 5 when I had my upgrade a year and a half ago (for more on the 4S versus it's two younger brothers, click here).

So, I made it my quest to finagle the settings of my 4S until it started to perform at least 90% as well as it did under iOS6, and after a bit of tinkering, I think I accomplished that feat.

The first step is to make like a Dalek and EXTERMINATE everything on the phone you haven't used in the past month or two. That means throwing out that album you listened to once and never touched again, and all those internet radio apps you've been dying to use but never find the time for. You'd be surprised how many useless apps you'll acquire over the course of a two year contract, which is a problem since many of them suck up processing power in the background or do other nefarious things to compromise your phone's ability to do the stuff you need it to do.

An easy trick to freeing up hard drive space on the iPhone is to transfer all of your pictures to a computer, and then delete them from the phone proper. You can also back up text messages and delete them, though doing the former is a bit more complicated with texts than it is with photos.

Why do all of that, you ask? Well, all computers work better with a bit of extra free hard drive space. You'll want to shoot for around two gigabytes of free space, which I'll admit is difficult if you happen to have an eight gigabyte version of the 4S, in which case shoot for one gigabyte of free space.

The next step is to turn off all of the visual bells and whistles of iOS7. Sure, you won't get that translucent Windows Vista-esque effect to your control panel anymore, or the zooming animations, but who cares since they add zero functionality.

Go to settings, general, accessibility, and turn on reduce motion and increase contrast (for the latter, select "reduce transparency"). Though your phone won't look as pretty, it'll now perform much much better than it did before, especially if you were able to free up hard drive space. To put it simply, these settings get rid of all of iOS7's motion effects, change the background of the notification center to black, and the backgrounds of the control panel and folder buttons to gray. For the price of losing a bit of visual flair, your phone should now be running like melted butter on a freshly baked dinner roll.

That's really all there is to it! There are some more advanced steps you can take to improve performance further and increase your battery life, but I've already gone through those in a separate article.

Today, my 4S performs nearly as well as it did the day I got it, with the only issue being its power button (though that's a fairly common problem on this model). If my upgrade date were today, I'm unsure if I'd spend money on the 5C or the 5S, since the 4S still performs lightning fast if you're willing to forgo iOS7's visuals and optimize your phone's memory on a regular basis.

With proper care and upkeep, your 4S should last you for a while, at least until you see a good deal for the iPhone 6. Until then, enjoy what you've got! I know I will.