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Thursday, June 30, 2011

HTC Wildfire Performance: Hints, Tips, and Tricks!

Though it is a brilliant and compact smartphone, HTC did regrettably hinder the Wildfire’s CPU and graphical processing capability. Due to the small 528mhz chip, people have often complained that the eyecandy transitions, default applications, and general experience can be a bit slow, laggy, or unpleasant. I have found this to be the case myself.
Since getting mine late last year I have found a few ways to reduce these problems and better my Wildfire’s overall user experience, as well as increase productivity and gain a few great applications too. Now I would like to share these tips with you! No purchases are needed. Rooting of your phone isn’t needed either.
Some of these performance boost techniques will be unnoticeable on higher-end devices, but do apply to most Android phones.

Replace Some Apps

The apps that come with the Wildfire are not all optimised for speed. Try these apps instead, and see if your performance improves.


The ‘Messages’ application in Android is painfully slow on the Wildfire (in 2.2 anyway). I was used to a Sony Ericsson C902 before I got the Wildfire; that had a weedy and insignificant internal architecture by comparison, yet managed to load up my messages near-instantly, even with a backlog of 2000 messages.
So why is the Messages application so slow? It isn’t just on the Wildfire either; even the Desire has a few lag issues. I haven’t yet had found an answer to this, so I decided to switch SMS applications!
I tried HandcentSMS for a while but didn’t quite take to it, though it was quite a bit faster than the Messages application. I later found GoSMS on one of those random market perusals we all do.
I love and recommend it because it is FAST; very fast indeed! The smooth movement in the scrollbar is what does it for me. GoSMS also brings a few new intuitive features with it, my favourite being the message ‘pop-up’ feature that HandcentSMS also offers. However unlike HandcentSMS, scrolling between messages in the popup and typing into them yields no lag whatsoever! Truly smooth, fast, and effective SMS capabilities at last.

Opera Mobile/Mini

I found the default browser in Android 2.2 was acceptable but slow on rendering, especially when scrolling. After a bit of reading up I found a lot of recommendations for the Opera browser on Android . After installing it, I was delighted by the loading times, which are considerably faster than the default Internet browser. The same applies to the scrolling, which feels totally seamless — no jerky browsing whatsoever!
You must remember, Opera Mobile is 20MB and offers a few more features than Opera Mini, which is under 5MB.
I have found two downsides to Opera MINI, however, which may or may not upset your experience of it, depending on how you browse. Firstly, clicking links in another application and launching Opera can sometimes lead you back to the last page viewed. This is because if Opera is unused for an extended period of time, Android’s intelligent multitasking kills the process. When Opera is restarted and immediately sent a new web page, it ignores the incoming page link and decides to ‘open previous tabs’. Once it is running again you are fine to reload a link, but this is something I would appreciate seeing fixed. The second niggle is that pinch-to-zoom doesn’t work as you would hope. The gesture does zoom in and out, but only between “Whole Page”, and “Closer”. There is no true dynamic scaling.
Opera Mobile does not have these issues.

Go Launcher EX

HTC Sense comes bundled with the Wildfire, and that is all fine and dandy. However I craved superior smoothness and speed again, since Sense can be awfully jerky at times. In looking for alternative Homescreens I tried LauncherPro, ADWLauncher, and even a few of the really obscure ones. I finally found GoLauncher after following a link from GoSMS’s market page.
GoLauncher is one of the fastest, gracefully-flowing, and simplistic Home Screen replacements there is. Though unfortunately some of the HTC Sense widgets are not compliant with it, I have learned to make do without them. Putting an application link to Wifi Hotspot on my home screen instead of a toggle widget hasn’t hurt me so far. The increase in performance is well worth losing my calendar widget too. A quick tip I will give you, is that if you go into Go Launcher’s settings and reduce the number of home screen panes to 3 or even 2 rather than the default 7, and disable the default effects, it goes like a rocket. Delightful. I really do implore you to give it a Go…

Cut Down on Widgets

I know you have probably heard this a dozen times, so sorry for making it a baker’s dozen.
Widgets – Are – A – Memory – Glutton
Of course some Widgets are far better than others with memory management, but overall the more widgets you have, the more background processing and memory allocation takes place. By removing unnecessary Widgets you free up resources on your phone for other applications to use, thereby speeding up their loading and rendering times. People often idly add one more widget to their homescreen every now and then thinking “one more can’t hurt”. Then after a while you realize you are littered with them. Keep only the bare minimum that you truly need.

Turn Off Predictive Text

This is a big one! I found biblical lag when I was typing words into applications with predictive text enabled.
To disable the predictive text, go to Settings > Applications > Language and Keyboard > Touch Input > Text Input. Then untick the Prediction, Spell Correction, and Word Completion boxes.
Okay, I must admit that for some people this would be a lot of support to lose, but try to disable what you feel you can. With them enabled, every time you type a word the processor is trying to work out what the word you are writing might be, or how it should be properly spelt. This sucks up far more processing cycles than you would expect. I tried many different keyboards too to help ease my pain, and I found that disabling predictive for all of them makes inputting text much smoother.
I also found that disabling haptic feedback on keyboard inputs gave me a little extra boost. See how it goes for you.

Watch Background Operations

Some applications can leave processes running on your system without declaring themselves in your notifications pane. You can check if any of your applications are of guilty of this by going to Settings > Applications > Running Services. From here you can tap on the process identities to gain more information about them (such as how much memory they are hogging). If you no longer use an application you find there, get rid of it!

The HTC Sense Eyecandy Helps

I felt very confused when I realised this, and it feels so counter-intuitive. Turning the HTC Sense effects ON in Settings > Display > Animations makes everything appear to run smoother. I have a few suspicions as to why this may be, but nothing conclusive enough to write about as of yet. This is not the same for other home screen as you would expect. Go Launcher Ex for example does slow down quite a bit with the flashy add-ons. HTC Sense is a bizarre exception.

Remove Applications You Don’t Use

Applications that you don’t use…
  • …take up memory that Android could use on other processes — especially if the application uses auto-start or background processes of any level.
  • …leave traces and references in the Android system that increase load times — having to parse a couple extra lines of code when you launch something can make a considerable difference, especially if that code calls upon further processes.
  • …slow down the rendering time of the Application Drawer.
If you don’t need an application, show it the door.

Switch to List Views

Did you notice that scrolling thro
ugh the HTC Sense Application Drawer was laggy? I definitely did. So I tapped Menu, then clicked ‘List View’. Android finds displaying List entities far less intensive than displaying menu icons, as you may well have noticed with other applications.
Whenever you get the chance to view something in a list structure, do so; the boost is great.

That’s All, Folks!

Hopefully this article has given you a few ideas on how to increase the speed (or at least the apparent speed) of your Wildfire or other low-end Android device. I utilize pretty much all of the tips I have written about, and my Wildfire feels so much better to use than when it was ‘factory-fresh’.
Thanks for reading, leave any questions in the comments area below.

Sam Cater on March 19th 2011

1 comment:

  1. Excellent article, really sped up my wildfire s!