Frustrated by the performance or stability of your Android phone? Wondering “How can I make Android Apps run faster?”
Android is an amazingly useful and powerful Operating System. It’s based on Linux and currently dominates the global Smartphone OS install market. It is an operating system primarily for mobile phones and other devices, which consists of Linux (Torvalds’ kernel), some libraries, a Java platform and some applications. If this means nothing to you, don’t worry about it.
What’s important about it in the context of this article, and what separates Android from it’s main competitor, Apple’s iOS, is the open hardware and software ecosystem which allows any phone, tablet, or device manufacturer to develop a device, package a version of Android on it, as well optimized as they can make it, and ship it out to consumers, and do so at a fraction of the price that they would pay for similar hardware capabilities from Apple.
It’s further helped along by the fact that once installed, pretty much anyone can write an Android App and make it available for download in any medium, whether doing it through the Google Play Store, through other third-party Android Marketplaces, or even just by uploading it as an archive to their blog or file-sharing site of choice and having users manually download and install it. This is something that iOS doesn’t, hasn’t and probably will never allow.
Through jailbreaking and Cydia, savvy iOS users have attempted to achieve something similar to what every Android user can do do from the start, and Apple is fighting them every step of the way.
As great as all that sounds, one of the most painful results of this market strategy manifested through the phenomenon called Android Fragmentation. The good news is, that isn’t much of an issue anymore. I’ve noticed this on my own Android devices, that even woefully out-of-date and badly optimized systems seemed to perform better and better, at least application-wise.
That, however, doesn’t solve one of the biggest and most painful issues for the largest number of Android users, that of poor optimization, especially on non-flagship phones – which comprise by far the biggest number of activated devices. It’s a pretty safe bet that, unless your device is produced by the likes of Samsung, HTC, Motorola or other major brand names, you’re familiar with issues such as poor signal strength, rapidly draining battery, laggy, buggy and unstable Apps, system freezes, and the list goes on and on.
As a bit of a power user, with my own experiences attempting to tweak, optimize and engage in development for devices I was using at the time, I had resigned myself to the idea that my 150$ Chinese phone would always have an unbreakable overhead ceiling against which I’d always bang my head in frustration, due to the closed-source kernel and lack of of custom ROM’s on my device.
This is a problem quite common to almost any user of non-flagship devices, and that’s IF they ever heard of custom ROM development in the first place. In essence, a custom ROM is an effort by tech-savvy users to make a better, more compatible, optimized system. What makes it hard to get done is the lack of access to the original Kernel Sources or Framework. While major brand devices tend to be better supported in this respect, lesser known brands usually aren’t.
For the vast majority of Android users, myself included, this meant having to settle for sub-par system behavior, performance and stability.
Until I ran across Danijel Markov’s (a.k.a. Paget96) L SPEED MOD.
L SPEED is a mod that combines some scripts and little tweaks in one package which is aimed to improve performance, reduce lags and expand battery life. The question is, does it actually do these things?
Thankfully, we’re social creatures, and the Internet has afforded us wonderful ways to feed this attribute. The L SPEED development thread on the XDA Forum contains over 7700 posts at the time this article is written. The mod is rated 5 stars at XDA, and thousands of users so far have reaped the benefits.
The benefits I’ve reaped directly are about speed, multitasking performance, and more importantly…
You would think I’ve got another 3 days of battery remaining, right? Well, not so fast. While I did get obvious and noticeable improvements, especially towards the battery consumption when the phone should be idle, when I’m browsing and downloading, and in the case of some Apps that completely jumped the horse and consumed more than the rest of the Apps plus the system combined (such as Google’s Inbox used to do), expect some annoying and uncorrectable behaviors to stick even after installing the mod, due to the way the battery system has been designed in modern phones.
All that being said, I still get around 3 to 4 times more mileage than I used to, depending on the scenario.
So, what are the requirements for installing this mod on your device?
Well, to start with, this mod will work on any Android device running a version above Android 2.3 Gingerbread. So if your device is no older than FIVE years, you have a good chance of running this.
Furthermore, your device needs to be Rooted. It used to be a complicated process involving lots of technical stuff. Nowadays it’s pretty much a one-click deal for most devices.
The final, and most painful requirement, is the current necessity of having a custom recovery such as ClockWorkMod or TWRP installed on your device. The easiest way to achieve this, if your device is supported, is to head over to the XDA Developers Forum and search for already-developed custom recoveries for your device.
Keep in mind that the above conditions imply the breaking of your phone warranty. While you may be able to keep the right backups to make use of your warranty, it’s generally accepted that once you’re rooted
and have flashed your recovery, everything you do to your phone is on your own head.
March 2016 Update: Danijel has published the L Speed App on the Google Play Store.
The install process is now as simple as installing the app from the Play Store. The instructions below are deprecated, but still interesting for those wishing to read the info or experiment with older versions.
Now that the requirements are settled, let’s tackle the actual steps.
Please note that there ARE risks in undertaking this mod. You may experience boot loops (happens sometimes), or in extreme cases may brick your device. It is recommended that you educate yourself as to the methods you may have on hand to deal with such events. The XDA Developers community can be very helpful in that regard.
Download the mod package from the developer’s MEGA account or Google Drive. You have your choice of versions. Currently, the version considered most stable is L SPEED 3.2 OVERSEER, but you have the choice of older version or newer test versions.
Once the package is downloaded to the device, I recommend you follow these steps:
- Backup your contacts, files and application information, as you will most likely need to perform a Factory Reset on your device after installing the mod;
- Install SuperSU in order to avoid storage mounting issues;
- Enable init.d support using either the Init.d Toggler, or Universal Init.d;
- (optional step) If you have already been using Init.d tweaks, navigate to your /system/etc/init.d folder and delete all the files from other mods;Reboot into your custom recovery;
- Make a Nandroid backup of your system, and store it on a PC;
- Flash the L SPEED file you downloaded onto your phone;
- Once installation is complete, Wipe the Cache and Dalvik Cache. I recommend you perform a Factory Reset as well. You might not need to, so feel free to reboot your device without this step, but in my case I experienced SystemUI and Loader crash loops on boot, and needed to perform a Factory Reset for the mod to work properly;
- (optional) If your system boots successfully, now is a good time to reboot into recovery and make another Nandroid backup, just in case – enabling some of the individual tweaks may cause issues, and in the extreme case where you are not able to disable them afterwards, it’s best you have a stable “Restore Point”;
- Install the Terminal Emulator and run it;
- Type in su, press the Enter key, and approve the Superuser notification;
- Type in LS (in uppercase) and press the Enter key, and enjoy the extensive mod options;
Feel free to enable one mod at a time and make sure each is stable, or do as I did and enable a whole bunch.
On my Neken N6S Mediatek Phone, I enabled the Adblocker, Kernel Tweaks, Disable Kernel Panic, Disable Kernel Sleepers, SD Tweak, I/O Tweak, VM Tweaks, Net Tweaks, Zipalign, Touch tweak, Kill media server on boot.
I also used the scheduler to enable daily Boost, FStrim and Cleaning, and I calibrated my poor battery which reported power all-over-the place and had my phone shutdown at 60%+ sometimes.
And after feeling the benefits for the past 24 hours, I had to write this post. I hope it helps you just as it did me.