If you’re holding out for Apple’s “iPhone 6,” the chances are your old handset is beginning to feel a little … well, sluggish. The bad news is that the next flagship iPhone is still a couple of months off launching. The good news, though, is that it’s quite easy to give your older device a speed boost; better still, doing so won’t cost you a penny.

First, follow these seven steps:

1. Get iOS 7.1.2

Installing the most up-to-date version of Apple's iOS should be the first thing you try.

Installing the most up-to-date version of Apple’s iOS should be the first thing you try.

You might have been quick in updating to iOS 7 for the swanky new design, but iOS 7.1 could still be sitting in the “Software Updates” section of your handset’s Settings app. If this is the case, then install it, pronto: the update makes countless essential performance improvements to the iPhone, and you’ll likely find your handset is faster and more battery efficient after downloading and installing the update.

Sometimes, however, updating isn’t enough, and it could be you’ll need to perform a bit of “spring cleaning” on your iPhone in order to re-energize the device.

2. Close all open apps

Open iOS apps can be closed from the iOS multitasking interface.

Open iOS apps can be closed from the iOS multitasking interface.

This might sound obvious and basic, but closing all open iOS applications from the multitasking interface can make your iPhone faster and more responsive. To do this, unlock your handset, double-press the Home button, and swipe up on app windows until no more remain.

If it’s been some time since you last did this, you’ll be surprised how many open iOS applications are slowing your device down.

3. Clean up Safari

The Safari iOS app stores browsing information in order to help users out when they’re surfing the web, but at the same time, this seemingly useful feature can inhibit our smartphone’s performance, too. Luckily, cleaning up the Safari app is easy: launch the Settings application and touch the ‘Safari’ pane, and at the bottom of the screen press ‘Clear History’ and ‘Clear Cookies and Data’.

Safari might forget your preferences as a result of cleaning out the app like this, but the resultant effect should mean your handset is less clogged.

4. Delete old Messages app threads

You'll be surprised how clogged the Messages application can get.

You’ll be surprised how clogged the Messages application can get.

Apple’s Messages app may be full to the brim with content you no longer need. Moreover, if threads contain messages, audio, or video, the app really could be affecting your iPhone’s speed.

After ensuring that important content from threads has been saved, individual Messages app threads can be deleted either with a swipe from right to left, or using the “Edit” button in the top-left corner of the app.

5. Get smart with the Photos app

CameraSync allows iOS device owners to offload the contents of their Photos app to Dropbox.

CameraSync allows iOS device owners to offload the contents of their Photos app to Dropbox.

Offloading the contents of the Photos application to a service like Dropbox while using a dedicated cloud photo-viewer, such as Unbound, can really help speed up your iPhone.

The more content that’s stored locally on your device, the bigger strain it’s going to be under: to easily transfer images to a cloud service, we’d recommend the $2.99 CameraSync.

6. Clear out non-essential apps

You can delete iOS apps by holding down on an app icon for two seconds, and then pressing "x."

You can delete iOS apps by holding down on an app icon for two seconds, and then pressing “x.”

Your next step should be to take a long, hard look at your installed apps, and to ask yourself: are they all essential?

Larger apps (like high-end games) are more deserving of being deleted than small utilities, but regardless, any space you can free up on your iPhone in this way should result in a better experience.

7. Reboot, reset

This is simple enough: if rebooting your iPhone doesn’t help its condition, you can perform a ‘hard reset’ by holding the Lock and Home buttons together for five seconds. In our experience, this sometimes helps.

The final resort: restoring your iPhone

Restoring your handset should be a last resort, but if nothing else helps it's definitely a promising solution.

Restoring your handset should be a last resort, but if nothing else helps it’s definitely a promising solution.

Our ‘final resort’ tip for speeding up older iPhones involves restoring the device in iTunes. You can do this by connecting your handset up to your Mac or PC and clicking “Restore iPhone…” before following the on-screen instructions.

From here, users have two options. Once the contents of the iPhone have been wiped, you can choose to restore the handset from a backup (either using iTunes or iCloud), and doing so will transfer your data back over to your smartphone.

Option two, however, is more drastic yet more effective: instead of restoring from a backup, if you set the device up as a new iPhone, you should find that it performs much better. In the trade, this is called the ‘nuke and pave’ method, and it often works reliably regardless of the platform you’re dealing with.

Upgrade

If all of the above doesn’t help your iPhone woes, however, then an upgrade should definitely be on the cards. Apple’s devices might be great, but they’re not immortal, and for the best experience a new iPhone every few years is recommended. We’ll have more information on Apple’s “iPhone 6” in the coming months, so keep checking back with us.