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Five Ways to Make Your Nexus 4 Faster Right Now (Video)

by Joe Levi on December 10, 2012 4:11 PM

You’ll be hard pressed to find someone who will argue with the fact that the Nexus 4 is one of the fastest smartphones on the market today. With a quad-core processor running at 1.5 GHz one might think there aren’t many ways to speed it up. Luckily, there are a few ways we can make our experiences with the Nexus 4 even faster!

Let’s take a few minutes to look at some “technical” methods of squeezing out some more speed, as well as a couple other more traditional tweaks to shave some seconds off common tasks.

Face Unlock

Most Android users that I know personally have set up either a pin or a pattern to help keep “unauthorized users” from messing around with their phones. PINs can be somewhat slow to input. Patterns can be quick, but if they’re too quick they’re usually not very secure.

With Ice Cream Sandwich, Google introduced Face Unlock which uses your phone’s front-facing camera to take a look at the face of the person trying to unlock the device to see if it matches the one you’ve authorized to unlock it. Unfortunately, this has been a little slow since your device must turn on the screen, initialize the camera, and try to recognize you before it unlocks itself. Sure, it only takes a second or two, but that’s still a delay you could do without.

The speed of the Nexus 4 all but eliminates this delay and makes Face Unlock one of the fastest ways to unlock your device. Try it out and let us know what you think in the comments below!

Only Lock When You Need To

Another often-overlooked feature inside Android’s Security settings is the ability to delay locking the phone or tablet. Chances are your Android isn’t going to be picked up by someone for a while after you’ve turned off the screen, or after it’s gone to sleep. To take advantage of that delay, you can set your phone or tablet to stay unlocked for a pre-configured amount of time after it’s gone to sleep. I have my screen-off set to two minutes. Thirty seconds later my phone locks itself.

In the meantime, if I turn the screen back on within the “lock” timeout, I don’t have to unlock my device. This saves the time it would have taken for me to unlock my phone with a pin, a pattern, or even Face Unlock like we mentioned above. Give it a try, I think you’ll like it!

Lock Screen Widgets

Often when we turn on our phones we’re interested in getting the current date and time, or our next appointment, perhaps what the last email was that we received. In any of those cases, we no longer need to unlock our devices. Lock Screen Widgets expose some of our personal information right on the Lock Screen, which can save us time. Some might think too much information could be exposed this way, so be mindful of what widgets you add to your Lock Screen.

Take Advantage of Google Now

Most common tasks can be accomplished by tapping on the microphone button in the persistent search bar and telling your Android what you want it to do. You can quickly and easily create a text message or email, and address it to anyone in your address book, just by speaking a few words. Android has had voice recognition functionality for quite some time, and it’s only getting better — and faster — with Google Now!

zRAM Tweak (root)

Now that we’ve gotten some “usability” tweaks out of the way, let’s get to some more geeky hacks that can help squeeze even more performance out of your already lightning-fast Nexus 4!

These next tips take advantage of some settings in CM10.1 Nightlies, but are probably available in other custom ROMs as well. As such, they come with the usual disclaimers: you apply these at your own risk, and must be rooted and running a ROM that supports these settings.

In CM10.1 Nightly head to Settings and scroll down to Performance. If you don’t see that you’ll need to unlock the “developer” mode by opening About Phone and tapping on the Build Number several times.  Once you’ve unlocked developer mode, you’ll have “Developer options” and “Performance” in the System category.

From there, go to Memory Management and select zRAM. This option compresses your memory which essentially increases your available RAM. Doing so basically compresses information as it goes into your RAM and decompresses it as it’s retrieved. Since you’ve got a 1.5 GHz quad-core processor, the compression/decompression is pretty fast, so you just get the benefit of increasing the amount of RAM available. I set my Nexus 4 to 18% (default).

Allow Purging of Assets (root)

Follow the same pre-requisites outlined above, then check “Allow purging of assets” to allow bitmap memory assets to be purged. Think of it as allowing stale items in RAM to be tossed out when you need more RAM. Keep in mind that both of the settings above won’t be applied until after you reboot.

If you’re interested in just how much of a difference these two tweaks give you, here are a couple benchmarks for you to compare. The first score is CM10.1 Nightly as configured above, the second number is how the stock ROM performs. They’re not huge gains, but every little bit counts!

Quadrant: 4908 (4722)

Geekbench 2: 2137 (1856)

Share Your Speed Tips!

Now that we’ve shared a few usability hints as well as a few more technical tweaks, it’s your turn! What tips, tricks, or suggestions do you have to make your Nexus 4 even faster? Let us know in the comments!

Desktop Version