Android smartphones have become more powerful today than they were ten years ago when the first Android smartphone was released. Smartphones are now powered by SoCs with powerful CPUs and GPUs capable of running at a speed of up to 2.5GHz, and these can handle just about any task you throw at it. However, there are still some old smartphones lying around that can't handle modern tasks effectively, or play high-end games. That's where overclocking comes in.
Overclocking is a term that's been around for a long time now, and the history of overclocking is almost as old as that of the computer. People have been overclocking devices for a long time now, and if you are into the world of customizing and tweaking Android smartphones, you might have come across this before.
So what exactly does it mean to overclock an Android device, or any device for that matter? In this article, we'll look at what overclocking is, what it means for your Android device, problems associated with overclocking an Android device, why you might even want to overclock your Android phone in the first place, what you need to set up before attempting to overclock your device, and finally how to overclock your Android device.
- 1 What is Overclocking - Brief Overview
- 2 Problems of Overclocking
- 3 Why you might want to overclock your Android device
- 4 Overclocking an Android device - What You Need
- 5 How to overclock any Android device - The Process
What is Overclocking - Brief Overview
As Wikipedia defines it,
Overclocking is configuration of computer hardware components to operate faster than certified by the original manufacturer, with "faster" specified as clock frequency in megahertz (MHz) or gigahertz (GHz)
Now let's apply this to the concept of smartphones. Smartphone processors come with a certain frequency known as the clock speed or clock frequency above which the process cannot operate, so overclocking an Android device involves making it run at a frequency higher than its "clock" frequency.
That sounds like something you can just reach out to and tune up to overclock, but overclocking can only be achieved through the use of software applications. This is covered at the end of the article.
Problems of Overclocking
As is with every advanced tweak you perform on a technology product, overclocking your Android device has its own side effects, and you might run into some problems in the process of doing it.
Most times, overclocking moderately does not affect your smartphone or processor, but there are some who like to go extreme and tune things up farther than they are supposed to.
Here are some problems associated with overclocking your Android smartphone:
Voids your warranty
As I state later in this article, before you can think of overclocking your smartphone at all, you need to have root access. Root access on an Android smartphone is your ticket to performing high-level tweaks of which overclocking is a small part of, and as we mention in most of our Android tips and tricks here on GetDroidTips, rooting your Android device voids your warranty. Therefore overclocking an Android smartphone will render your warranty void.
However, there's a bright side; you can always restore your warranty by unrooting your device and undoing every change you've made to the system. Most software that root your phone also allow you to unroot it in few easy steps, so this shouldn't be too much of a problem. In the event of a bricked device that you can't find a solution to online (highly unlikely), you would have to pay outside your warranty to get it fixed by the manufacturer.
Reduces your CPU's lifespan
Most times when we talk about overclocking an Android device, we're actually talking about overclocking its CPU, that is its processors and cores. The processors in a smartphone carry out the bulk of the work in most cases, and increasing their speed results in an overall increase in the performance of the device. So in every overclocking application you see, there are only options to adjust the clock speed of a device's processor.
Overclocking a device increases the heat that's produced by its processors, and this might reduce their lifespan if care is not taken. There's a limit to how much you can overclock a phone's processor so you might not hear of cases of frying a phone's CPU like it is in the world of PCs, but overdoing things will lead to a decrease of performance in the long run. We recommend overclocking the CPU speed between 10% and 20% of its default frequency.
Reduced battery life
The main purpose of overclocking a smartphone is to make it perform tasks it can't do with the default provisions made by the manufacturer, which means it's going to start demanding for more power than the manufacturer intended it to. That will have a negative effect on the battery life, and this is one of the most complained-about side effects of overclocking a smartphone.
With an increased processor performance, your smartphone is going to become more power-hungry and resource-intensive as it needs to keep up with the requirements of the processor. Tuning things up too much will result in massive battery drains, and even keeping it between 10% and 20% will still have some strain on the battery life. It's one of the problems you have to live with if you decide to overclock your device.
Why you might want to overclock your Android device
There are several reasons why you might want to overclock your Android device, and some of them have been talked about up there. It all boils down to making your smartphone do things it can't do on its stock power provisions.
Old smartphones can't run many high-end applications of today smoothly, and most times the apps crash and the smartphone freezes and force-restarts. That's where overclocking comes in; it increases the smartphone's processing power, allowing it to handle heavier tasks than it was designed for. Back in those days, I was able to play EA Real Racing 3 comfortably on a pretty low-end smartphone with an unknown 1GHz processor, 456MB RAM and Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.
Overclocking an Android device - What You Need
Alright, enough of all the talk and let's cut to the chase. These are things you need to put in place if you want to overclock your Android device.
Root Your Android Device
We can't say this enough; before you can perform any customization that's out of the regular on your Android smartphone, you have to root it, and same goes for overclocking. I'm not going to cover that in this article as there are different ways to root different categories of Android devices, but we have extensive guides on the topic of rooting here on GetDroidTips.
Flash a custom Recovery
The next step is to flash a custom recovery on your Android smartphone. A custom recovery allows you to carry out many advanced functions on your device which you can't otherwise carry out using the default recovery from the manufacturer. There are many custom recoveries out there that you can use, but the most popular one that we recommend here on GetDroidTips is TWRP Recovery - TeamWin Recovery Project. Here are some guides on how to install a custom recovery on your Android smartphone.
- How to install TWRP on Android (the guide here works for any smartphone).
Flashing a custom Recovery makes it easy to install a custom kernel on your Android device, which we're going to be needing for the overclocking process.
Now that you have a custom recovery installed, you would want to install a custom kernel in order to start overclocking. However, the process of flashing a custom kernel will erase all data on your smartphone, so it's best to perform a backup of your device apps and data. In fact, it's a rule of thumb to backup your device before carrying out any admin-level tweak, of which rooting is the first.
There are several apps that allow you to take a backup of important info like SMS messages, contacts and call logs on your smartphone, but with root access you can even do more with Nandroid backups which back up everything contained in your smartphone at a particular moment, and restores them back to that state later whenever you want. And by everything I mean everything; app data, progress level in games, account info, system settings etc.
How to overclock any Android device - The Process
Choose a custom kernel
Now you have everything set up in readiness for overclocking your device. The next thing you need to do is to install a custom kernel that supports overclocking. There are many of these available out there, so take some time to search for the one that fits your needs; overclocking shouldn't be your only basis of selection as there are many other features that come with custom kernels. You can search for your device name here on GetDroidTips or on the XDA Developers Forum to see a list of custom kernels compatible with your device and Android version.
Flash a custom kernel on your Android device
Once you make a choice, download the kernel to your phone and place it in its internal storage. The kernel is usually in form of a zip file. Make a mental note of the location of the file in your device storage.
Turn off your phone boot into recovery by pressing the volume down and power buttons together for some seconds. If this doesn't work for you, a quick Google Search would reveal the right key combinations for your smartphone.
On TWRP's main menu, click Install and navigate to the folder in which you placed the kernel's zip file. Select it and confirm that you want to flash this file. The process will take a few minutes and you'll be up and running in no time. Once done, go ahead to wipe cache and fix permissions (in Advance settings) via TWRP.
Install apps to overclock your CPU
Some kernels allow you to set the processor operating speed during the first boot. If yours doesn't allow you to do this, don't fret; there are various third-party software you can use for this. Here are some good examples that you can find on the Google Play Store:
That's about it as far as overclocking an Android device is concerned. If you have any questions, you can shoot us a comment below; I'll be willing to help.