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Tip: Speed up Android animations by tuning Animation Scale

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Chances are you’re using a phone that’s at least a year old. And if current industry trends are to be believed, you’ll probably stick with it for another year before upgrading. Now, depending on where your phone was on the specs scale initially, its present performance is either (still) a smooth ride or an obstacle course.

If you didn’t want to spend a lot of money in the first place and bought a budget device a year or two ago, you’re probably experiencing certain lags and slowdowns in your daily usage. So, I’m going to show you a useful trick that will make your phone a little bit faster and more responsive. At least, it will feel like it.

One of the oldest tricks in the book when trying to enhance the performance of your smartphone is tuning the animation scale. Keep reading, and you’ll find out what the animation scale is, how to tweak it, and what benefits it brings.

What is the animation scale in Android?

There are three types of animation scales in your Android system: The Window animation scale, the Transition animation scale, and the Animator duration scale. All three of these scales control the animations that appear when you scroll through a page, open an app, or transition between different screens. You can guess from the names which option does what.

Animations take up resources. So, the bigger the value, the more work on your CPU (you can check CPU usage in Developer options or with a third-party app) and GPU. Obviously, if you want crisp, fast, and responsive animations, you’re going to beef up the animation scale. The visual experience will be better, but it will come with “a cost”. You’ll be sacrificing the performance.

Since today’s focus is to speed up your phone, you’ll probably want to downscale the animations or even disable them completely. Sure, scrolling and transitioning between screens will feel a bit dull, but it will also appear noticeably quicker. Not to mention that this fixes UIs with questionable optimization, especially on budget low-end devices.

How to disable (change) the animation scale in Android

To even access the animation settings, you need to have Developer Options enabled. If you already do, skip this step; if not, here’s how to enable Developer options in Android:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Scroll down and tap About phone.
  3. Find the Build number section.
  4. Start tapping the Build number section continuously until you get a pop-up message saying that you’re a Developer now.
  5. After this, the Developer Options section will appear in Settings.

Now, that everything’s set. You’re ready to play with animations. Here’s how to do that:

  1. Head over to Developer Options.
  2. Scroll down until you find the Window Animation Scale, Transition Animation Scale, and Animator Duration Scale.
  3. Here, you can play with all three options, and see which one brings the best results for you. Each animation scale can go from Off to 10x.

Animation scale

There you go, if you choose to scale down the animations, for example, to 0.5x or disable them completely, your phone should feel faster, but the transition between screens or scrolling might be a bit flat. It’s your choice between performance and aesthetics at the end of the day.

Do animations drain the battery?

Okay, you now know that smoother animations put some extra pressure on the CPU. But, does disabling animations also extend the battery life? Technically, yes. If you scale down the animations, your CPU will have one less operation to perform, and therefore will use less power. You can learn more about this in our article about CPU usage on Android.

However, when looking at the big picture, handling animations is an insignificant task, compared to other processes your CPU has to handle. So, even if disabling animations reduces battery usage, you probably won’t even notice any difference. If your battery drains fast, it’s not because of animations. Instead, try some other options to save battery on your Android phone. From the top of our heads, we can suggest disabling Bluetooth and NFC when not in use, disabling Mobile data always on in Developer options, lowering brightness manually, and reducing the refresh rate to 60HZ.

Important note: These actions, whatever animation level you choose, won’t affect your device negatively whatsoever.

That’s about it. I hope this trick worked for you, and that your phone now at least feels faster and more responsive. If you still don’t see a difference in performance, you should probably go back and enable animations. Because it’s better to have a slow phone with smooth animations than a slow phone with no animations.

If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, just let us know in the comments below. Thank you for reading and feel free to leave your comments in the comments section below.

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in October 2019. We made sure to revamp it for freshness and accuracy.

Picture of Ivan Jenic

Ivan Jenic

Editor-in-chief at Mobile Internist. @ivan_jenic I founded Mobile Internist to help people understand technology better. And maybe solve some annoying problems. That's about it, cheers!
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