Speeding up the Samsung Galaxy Note

In my post “Galaxy Note is slow with Jelly Bean?” I was frustrated with the slow down after I updated my Note to Android Jelly Bean.

So far this has helped:

  1. Removing seldom used apps. This phone has a measly 1G of RAM, and many apps cannot be moved to sdcard.
  2. Clearing each apps cache (in application manager). This must be done periodically.
  3. Limiting background processes to 3 or even 2 (in development settings),
  4. Setting to 0.5x the three windows animation scalings (in developer settings). Some say they should be turned off.
  5. For browser, turn off “allow web sites access to location info”.
  6. Removing recently installed apps. These may have had side effects.
  7. Do not keep activities (in developer settings) But this will slow down app startups time.
  8. Use GPU rendering

However, the phone is still much slower than when it had the Ice Cream Sandwich Android version. What is still slow? Everything except in app scrolling and use. App switching and setup suffers. This seems to be a memory or cache problem with the new Android update. If it were hardware, the older Android version would have had a problem. The phone has only 1GB of RAM, and this could be acerbating the situation.

Here are some things other people are recommending:

  1. Factory reset: I did not try the factory reset approach. Not sure of backup and restore capabilities. Also, I read some posts that said a reset did not improve the speed.
  2. Move apps from card: Is the memory card too slow? Move the apps back to main memory. I did not try this.
  3. Turn off power saving settings
  4. Recalibrate the battery? Some say this is never necessary, just do a full discharge and charge cycle.
  5. If you have “S Voice”, turn off the ‘open via the home key’ setting (in S Voice)
  6. Is Google Now turned on? See if turning it off has an effect.
  7. Clear memory via the home button. In Android, unused apps do not have to be stopped, and memory is automatically reclaimed. However, one can try clearing the memory to see if this has any effect. Hold down the home key, then in the app list’s bottom, click on the pie shape.
  8. Remove bloatware. If you can’t, try to disable them.
  9. Turn off auto update of applications
  10. Turn off automatic sync. Unless your making money from social stuff, it can wait
  11. Restart the phone

You get to the application manager and the development settings via the phone’s Settings menu.
Unfortunately, some of these settings will revert if you turn off and restart your phone. If the above don’t help, the next steps would probably be removing or disabling any newly installed apps. One user even suggested turning off many high end apps like ‘Google Now’, ‘S Suggest’, and so forth.

Legal recourse?
Since this Jelly Bean update was via the approved carrier’s channels, it should be supported. If you bring in your automobile to the car’s dealers for an official upgrade sanctioned by the manufacture, the car should not begin to stall on the highway. But, this is a complex legal issue, I guess. Reference: SOFTWARE PRODUCT LIABILITY: UNDERSTANDING AND MINIMIZING THE RISKS

The custom ROM solution?
Whenever a plea is posted on a forum regarding smartphone issues, some geek will chime in and suggest that rooting and a custom ROM is the way to go. Perhaps, but that is not for the faint of heart and is very complicated. Maybe there will be some advances in this area, for example, see “CyanogenMod for All! ”A mobile revolution” coming [UPDATE].” There is a video on the updater: Install CyanogenMod on your Android Device with the CyanogenMod Installer. Is the Note supported?


Some of the advice out there and even some urls are “suspect”. Be careful trying to root and install a ROM. If you read closely you’ll find these ROMs are beta and unsupported. Also, the install process can fail and your phone can be bricked.

What caused the slow down with JellyBean update?
In this post the author has argued that the install process without using a reset will cause these issues. In the post, the author also says that one cannot correct a bad JellyBean install; it requires a real ROM flash: “… you want the phone cold/hard flashed to 4.1.2 as if the phone were fresh off the assembly line with no OS flashed to its ROM (meaning they should wipe the ROM, first) ….”

This is the problem I have with all these advice pages on the web, they contradict each other. In this post, the author says something about making batteries last longer that is directly called bogus in other web pages. So, while a minor quibble, I then wonder if the rest of the information is correct.

No information is available from Samsung, this is the standard response on their support page:
“Thanks for your inquiry! Unfortunately, we do not have any information about a future update release at this time. Stay tuned to Samsung.com for information.”

Compute devices slow down
From searching for solutions I did find something troubling. All smartphones slow down after months of use. There should be tools to handle this and manufactures and vendors should be more honest about the capabilities of the actual storage and cpu. I tried a monitoring app but it was useless, same thing for a battery diagnostic app. I guess a smartphone requires a smart user? 🙂

There is an alternative. When you buy something it should be guaranteed to work at a certain capacity. When you buy a car you don’t expect it to start slowing down if you give it normal maintenance and don’t change its major components. That is the tricky thing, a compute device is meant to be extended.

Related post: Bloatware should be outlawed.


  • November 3, 2013: Added a section on custom ROM use.
  • May 27, 2013: One thing that is needed are tables or a database of what apps can be removed or disabled on various smart phones. The average user is at a loss in determining what is really needed or not. The often made suggestion to root one’s phone is not really very practical for most situations.
  • Dec 24, 2013: Some buzz on web seem to indicate the first Galaxy Note will not get an Android update. Time for a custom ROM install? Unfortunately, everything out there seems unstable. An example, for the AT&T i717, we have: “This device does not support the newest version of CyanogenMod.
  • Dec 26, 2013: I got a new battery for the phone. Hmmm. It’s faster. I’ll give it a few days of use to make sure it is not a fluke. The original battery was 2500mAh, the new is 2700mAh. Should not matter?
  • Feb 19, 2014: It is not the battery. But, the battery did fix the battery drain issue, and when it does run well, it is slightly faster. Can’t wait to get a new phone one day. 🙁


Some things I’m playing lately …

Meeting Of The Spirits/You Know You Know –
The Mahavishnu Orchestra – Live in Germany 1972
John McLaughlin – guitar, Billy Cobham – drums, Jan Hammer – keyboards, Jerry Goodman – violin, Rick Laird – bass

Your device's current firmware version is not supported via Kies

Getting this error message when I connect my Samsung Note I717 to Kies on Windows 7 PC. This is with an unrooted phone. Was last updated to Android 4.0.4, but I don’t recall if it was by OTA or Kies.

No real good information on web about this. Just that Kies needs to get updated by Samsung to support the new firmware. Or that it is just a bad error message and really just means you have the latest version of the software on your cell phone.
[May 3, 2013: Apparently, it is the latter in this case. I was able to upgrade to Jelly Bean.]

Looks like Samsung and AT&T are not cooperating too well when it comes to the original Galaxy Note.

Why it matters?
This is how some updates for the phone are distributed, such as the new Jelly Bean update.

May 15, 2013: Just did another update via Kies. Looks like just a firmware tweak.


Model SGH-I717
Android 4.1.2
baseband I717UCMB3
Kernel Version
se.infra@SEP-95 #1
SMP PREEMPT Sat Apr 6 07:12:29 KST 2013
Build JZ054K.i717UCMB3

PC: Windows 7 64bit Professional

Patience: Low


SwiftKey and Swype keyboards for smartphones

Just found out about SwiftKey 4 release for Android smartphone. The company offers a free version to try for one month. This is very important since a keyboard’s usability is very important.

One of the major changes in this version of SwiftKey is that it supports gesture input. Many keyboards support some form of gesture input and this was probably made more popular by Swype, another keyboard.

Does anyone need another keyboard?
If you are already habituated with the stock keyboard and are very thumbsical, you probably don’t need another. If your on an IPhone you may not have much choice in the matter.

Swiftkey or Swype?
So far I think in the gestural aspects, Swype is the clear leader. Swiftkey has a hard time with double keys, for example. One outstanding feature of Swiftkey is the gestural input that incorporates the space bar. You don’t have to lift the finger to type a whole sentence.

Word Prediction
Prediction? Yeah, right. I can predict that the prediction on any keyboard will predictably drive you up the wall.

Example SwiftKey stats
After you use Swiftkey for a while you can access its status screen and see the record of how it helped with your typing. For example, I have:

  • Efficiency: +35%
  • Distance Flowed: 81.06m
  • Keystrokes saved: 1,384
  • Typos corrected: 205
  • Words flowed: 938
  • Words predicted: 9
  • Words completed: 124

And, I’m not even a heavy duty texter.

Keyboard version confusion
The whole keyboard thing on smartphones is not very clear. For example, with these two, they are available in vague ways.

SwiftKey is an app download on Play Store, but it is also included in the new Samsung Galaxy S4, or is only part of the SwiftKey technology included?

Swype is available on Android as one of the stock keyboards one can enable, yet it is has a potential new version. To get that Swype version one must join the beta program to help develop it, currently at version The stock Swype does not have the latest prediction engine (XT9) and voice input by Dragon voice recognition. Will the new Swype ever ship?

Which to use?
I’m halfway thru my trial period using SwiftKey. Do I switch permanently to it? I’m leaning that way. The price is a the same as one cup of coffee, it’s not a money thing at least.

April 25, 2013: Swype finally is released as a non-beta download on Google Play store.


Transfer files with Android smartphone?

Lately I’ve been using the free AirDroid app.

Pretty easy to use:

  • Install via “Google Play Store”.
  • Start AirDroid on phone.
  • The app displays a web address you open in a Browser on the PC or laptop that has the files you want.
  • Enter the displayed Dynamic Passcode (I also select the secured connection).
  • Now you have a “desktop” of the Android on your browser.

This works over wifi connection.

To upload music (from PC to phone), just click the Music icon, then click ‘Upload’. On FireFox, you can drag&drop files in the resulting dialog. The advantage of using AirDroid compared to a dedicated file transfer app is that you can do more with AirDroid, like send SMS messages from your browser, etc.

Is it secure? Who knows? You investigate all these apps and you find conflicting data. I think in today’s age we are the product, as FaceBook epitomizes.

Kies Air works similarly.