Wednesday, May 13, 2015

PSA: How to Resolve Your Lollipop Slowness

A couple of weeks ago, I upgraded my Xperia Z1 to Lollipop. Other than it being good policy in general to stay on the latest release for security reasons, the major reason for the upgrade was that Lollipop enables the use of SD Card storage for apps. That's a particularly nice feature to have, since the Z1 comes with only about 16GB of storage, and after all is said and done only 10GB is really available to the user. 64GB microSD cards can now be had for under $30, a good deal by almost any measure. (In reality, I tend to buy these things only when they go on sale, and have netted them at an average price well under $25)

The Lollipop upgrade for the Xperia phones comes via Sony software tethered to a PC. The process went smoothly, but a day or two after the upgrade, however, I noticed that the phone was getting slower and started running like molasses. Facebook would take half a minute to load. At one point, I even missed a phone call because the UI was so slow that the counter-party had hung up before the swipe-to-answer operation completed.

Worse, battery life had deteriorated! Not only was my phone so slow I was rebooting it once a day, my battery life (despite turning on Stamina mode) was miserable. I started charging the phone at every opportunity, like a Nexus 4/5 user. The phone's bluetooth connection to my car was also spotty, dropping music. Even turning off Moves didn't help. Not that Moves was doing much at this point: the slowness and lagginess of the phone meant that movement tracking was so laughably off that the data was worthless.

I got so frustrated that I researched ways to rollback the Xperia Z1. Heck, I started contemplating replacing my Z1 with the Lumia 635. While doing the above research, I came across a post noting that slowness after upgrade from Kitkat to Lollipop was common, and that the solution was actually straightforward: factory reset!

Painful as it was to lose about 4 months of state, I figured I'd give this a try before downgrading to KitKat for real. And indeed, my phone is now fast again! Bluetooth connections no longer suck. Battery life is now more than acceptable. Moves is now fairly accurate once more. I don't even lose phone calls! I can now contemplate that my Z1 will have acceptable performance for at least another year or two! I no longer wondered how Lollipop could have made it past QA/Sony's certification process without being labeled a piece of crap.

So, if your phone got upgraded from Kitkat to Lollipop and performance and battery life sucks. It's not necessarily Lollipop's fault. Try a factory reset and you might get a new lease on life. It's silly than neither Sony nor Google actually resolved this problem before releasing software. But at least there's a workaround. I just wonder how Google expects Android NOT to lose market share to the competition if they keep ignoring the upgrade scenario.

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