The iPhone SE continues to hold up for us as we push into 2018, but many others are reporting performance issues with the company’s 4-inch flagship.
We’re having an excellent experience on iOS 11.1.2, but iPhone SE users are complaining about a variety of performance problems including lockups, freezes, general, lag, and random reboots. These issues are extremely common and you’ll find them across Apple’s iPhone line.
If your iPhone SE starts to exhibit lag or frequently reboot itself, you don’t need to schedule an appointment to see a Genius at the Apple Store. At least not yet.
There’s a very good chance you’ll be able to solve your performance issues from your house or office in a matter of minutes, seconds even.
In this guide we’ll show you a few ways to fix iPhone SE performance issues should they arise after an iOS update or completely out of the blue.
Restart Your iPhone SE
If you start noticing performance issues like lag and lockups, try restarting your iPhone SE. Hold down the power button, slide to turn it off, leave it off for a minute or so, and then turn it back on to check performance.
You can also try hard resetting the phone which is done by holding down the power button and the home button at the same time until the Apple logo appears.
Update Your iPhone SE
If you’re running an outdated version of iOS, consider downloading the latest software to your iPhone SE.
To check what version of iOS you’re currently running, go into Settings > About > and check under Version. If you aren’t running the latest update, you’ll need to install the software.
To do that, head into Settings > General > Software update. If a new update is available, you’ll be prompted to download and install the software.
Make sure you read reviews before you make your move.
Delete What You Don’t Need
If you’ve owned your iPhone SE for awhile you’ve probably accumulated a ton of data on your device’s internal hard drive. Photos, videos, apps, things of that nature.
Some people are really good about keeping their device’s hard drive clean, others not so much. If you fall into the latter category, it might be time to examine the contents of your phone because clutter can slow down your iPhone.
To do this, head into your iPhone SE’s Settings and tap on iPhone Storage. There, you’ll get a detailed look at what’s taking up space on your device. Go down the list and decide what to keep and what to delete. You’d be surprised how much space Messages and Videos take up on your phone.
If you’re running iOS 11 on your iPhone SE, you will also get some personalized recommendations about how to free up space on your device.
Stop Your Auto Downloads
Automatic updates are extremely useful if you’re bad about keeping your apps and services updated with the latest features and fixes. Auto downloads are useful, but they can also slow down your phone.
If you don’t mind manually updating your applications on the App Store, try disabling Automatic Downloads on your iPhone SE and see if you get a boost.
Head into your Settings app > iTunes & App Store. Once you’re in there, toggle Updates, located in the Automatic Downloads section, off.
You might toggle the other options off as well. You can always turn them back on later.
Clear Browser Cookies & Data
Clearing your browser’s cookies and data will free up memory which could help speed up your iPhone SE.
If you use Safari on your iPhone SE, head into your Settings > Safari > and go down to Clear History and Website Data. Give it a tap.
Tapping on this button will remove your browsing history, cookies, and other data from Safari. Your history will also be cleared from any other devices signed into your iCloud account. If that sounds good to you, tap Clear History and Data again.
If you use Google Chrome on your iPhone SE, you’ll want to head into Chrome and tap the three vertical circles in the top right corner.
On the next screen, tap Settings > Privacy > Clear Browsing Data. You can now select what you wish to delete from your device. If you’re noticing serious lag on your iPhone SE, you might want to get rid of everything. To do that, select them all and then click Clear Browsing Data.
The iPhone SE’s animations are nifty, but toning them down could help improve your device’s performance.
If the animations on your iPhone SE suddenly get choppy or slow, head on into the Settings app > General > Accessibility and toggle Reduce Motion on.
We also recommend reducing the transparency and blur effects on your device. To get that done, head into Settings > General > Accessibility > tap Increase Contrast and then tap the toggle to turn on the Reduce Transparency function.
The software will feel a bit different, but it’s a small price to pay for improving performance.
Kill Background Refresh
If you have Background App Refresh enabled, your iPhone SE will work to keep your apps updated with fresh data. It’s a nice feature, but you probably don’t need it turned on for all of your apps.
If you don’t want or need apps working in the background, turn this feature off. You can shut it off completely or you can run down a list and toggle it off on a case-by-case basis.
To get this done head into Settings > General > Background App Refresh and toggle Background Refresh off. If you’d prefer to pick and choose, you’ll need to go down your list of apps and toggle them off or on one by one.
Reset All Settings
If none of those remedies work, try resetting your iPhone SE’s settings to their factory defaults. To do that, head into Settings > General > Reset > and select Reset All Settings at the top.
Before you do this, make sure you have your Wi-Fi passwords handy. This will cause your iPhone SE to forget its known connections.
If the current version of iOS is treating your iPhone SE badly, you can try downgrading to an older version assuming one is available.
If you’re fine with dropping down, take a look at our guide to downgrading iOS. It will hold your hand through the entire process.
Wiping your iPhone SE and starting over is a tedious process, but it could have a dramatic effect on your device’s overall performance.
Once you’ve made a proper backup, head into your iPhone SE’s Settings > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings and get the ball rolling.
Install iOS 11.3.1 for Better Security
Apple's iOS 11.3.1 update comes with four known security patches for all iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch models capable of running iOS 11.
If you skipped iOS 11.3, your iOS 11.3.1 update comes with 27 additional patches for potential exploits. Those of you lingering on iOS 11.2.6 would be wise to make the move sooner rather than later.
If you missed iOS 11.3, your iOS 11.3.1 update also includes a new privacy feature. When an Apple feature wants to use your personal information, an icon now appears with a link to access detailed information about how your data will be used and protected.
If you're running iOS 11.2.5 or older, you're exposed to an issue that lets people send a specific character that will crash an iOS-powered device and block access to the Messages app. It can also block apps like Facebook Messenger, Gmail, Outlook, and WhatsApp.
The iOS 11.2.6 update's main purpose was to patch up this issue. If you skipped iOS 11.2.6, you'll get these enhancements with iOS 11.3.1.
If you're running iOS 11.2.2 or below and receive a certain GitHub link through your Messages app, your iPhone or iPad can lockup or respring. The Messages app will also become unusable.
If you're on iOS 11.2.1, your iOS 11.3.1 update includes security improvements to Safari and WebKit to mitigate the effects of Spectre. If you're running an older version of iOS, your iOS 11.3.1 update will come with a lot more.
Apple's iOS 11.2 update fixed several problems, but it also brought problems of its own including a potentially nasty zero-day iOS HomeKit vulnerability.
The vulnerability, discovered by Tian Zhang, allowed for unauthorized control of HomeKit accessories including garage door openers and smart locks.
Apple quickly rolled out a server-side fix, but the company restored full functionality with the release of iOS 11.2.1. If you skipped iOS 11.2.1 and use HomeKit, you should download iOS 11.3.
If you skipped iOS 11.2, you'll get a few more patches with your iOS 11.3.1 update. Apple's iOS 11.2 update delivered 11 patches including one for Mail and one for Wi-Fi.
The iOS 11.2 and iOS 11.2.1 updates also patched up a widespread security issue called "Meltdown." Apple says its analysis suggests it "has the most potential to be exploited."
Meltdown affects all iOS 11 powered devices so we highly recommend downloading iOS 11.3.1 if you skipped iOS 11.2.
If you skipped iOS 11.1.2, iOS 11.1.1, and iOS 11.1, you'll get additional patches with your iOS 11.3.1 update.
The iOS 11.1 update delivered eight security patches including a fix for a serious Wi-Fi vulnerability called KRACK or Key Reinstallation Attack. KRACK is an exploit that targets the common WPA2 encryption protocol.
If you're just now making to move from iOS 10 (or whatever you're on) to iOS 11, your iOS 11.3.1 update will come with even more security features.
In iOS 11 you can't establish trust with a PC using fingerprints alone. You'll also need to put in a full passcode in order to gain that trust.
If you skipped older versions of iOS, your iOS 11.3.1 update will come with an even longer list of security patches.
Apple's iOS 10.3.3 update delivered 24 security patches addressing potential issues with Contacts, Messages, Notifications, and Safari. It also included a patch for a potentially dangerous Wi-Fi exploit called "Broadpwn."
If you skipped iOS 10.3.2 you'll get 23 additional patches with iOS 11.3.1. And if for some reason you missed iOS 10.3, you'll get 60 security patches with your iOS 11.3.1 update.
If you want to protect the data you store on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, you should make your move to iOS 11 and iOS 11.3.1 soon.
This is particularly important for those of you running older versions of iOS.