How to find out which app hogs CPU on your Android

Even though most users are focused on RAM usage, this is, in fact, something that shouldn’t bother you except in extreme cases. What is of bigger importance is CPU activity, as it is a vital factor in device performance, battery consumption, and even overheating. But ways to check on CPU usage on Android are rather scarce. Today, we are going to show you a few ways to check CPU usage on Android, with third-party apps or system resources. Learn more about this below.

It’s important to know that we are here covering system-wide CPU usage as Google prohibits access to hardware usage of apps. So there’s hardly a way you can find out what’s the per-app usage. There are some alternatives, like rooting your device and installing certain modules that overwrite system limitations, but it can be a lot for a regular user to grasp and quite a cumbersome task if you are not sure what exactly you are doing.

Use built-in resources

They are limited but should provide you with a basic insight into the background doings of certain apps. The readings are mostly oriented toward the battery usage, but you can enable the CPU activity toggle. But, firstly, let’s make an important distinction.

For example, if you play demanding, graphically intensive games and your last registered CPU activity is high, that’s OK. However, if idle CPU spikes, you should consider taking some measures concerning third-party apps that work in the background. Limiting or uninstalling them is not the worst of ideas.

If you’re not sure how to enable CPU on your Android device, follow these instructions:

  1. Navigate to Settings.
  2. Open About and navigate to Build number.
  3. Click 7 times on the number to enable Developer options in Settings.
  4. Get back to Settings and open newly unlocked Developer options.
  5. Locate the Monitoring pane below and enable Show CPU usage.

Now, you’ll be informed of the CPU activity in real-time. With that, you should be able to locate and disable certain background apps from hogging on your CPU immensely.

If you’re uncertain how to forcibly disable apps, follow the instructions below:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Tap Developer options.
  3. Tap Running services or Processes.
  4. Stop suspicious apps.

Have in mind that this is effective only before the restart. With the new restart, there’s a chance that the app process you terminated will emerge again like the phoenix from ashes.

Because of that, you should take into consideration uninstalling the troubling app. Also, if you’re sure that the CPU usage is not showing unusual spikes, you can easily disable the on-screen CPU monitoring and continue using your device just like before.

Use 3rd-party apps

Now, let’s move to a real deal. Most modern smartphones come with built-in maintenance tools. However, most of the time, they’re not properly suited for advanced readings, but rather for the cache cleanup and all kinds of tools that are not of much use. Antivirus apps are not really all that important or useful on Android.

Therefore, the best way to check CPU usage on Android is through specialized third-party apps. Here are the top 3 picks:

Droid Hardware Info

Pros:

  • Most readings and system information just a few taps away.
  • Access to camera and other sensors for detailed information.

Cons:

  • A bit limited feature-wise when compared to some other solutions.

You can download Droid Hardware Info, here.

TinyCore

Pros:

  • Well-designed and small in size as you would expect.
  • It more looks like a built-in tool since it integrates into the system and provides you with readings in real-time.
  • Stats-bar is well placed and informative.
  • Low system footprint.

Cons:

  • As same as most similar solutions, TinyCore is somehow underwhelming when compared with the premium version, especially when it comes to customization.
  • No advanced readings in the free version.

You can download TinyCore from this link.

CPU-Z

Pros:

  • Probably the best CPU monitoring app you can obtain for free.
  • Mirrors most of the features available on the PC version of the app.
  • Supports most of the available handsets.

Cons:

  • It’s not as attractive visually as some other apps.
  • Too many ads. Including video ads with pop-ups and all that jazz that can drive you mad and diminish the overall experience.

CPU-Z can be downloaded by following this link.

Conclusion

Have in mind that these tools are there just for monitoring. They are just a first step. Once you’ve learned the cause of the CPU spikes, you must manually navigate and terminate and eventually uninstall the CPU-hogging apps.

That should conclude our list and instructions. Thank you for reading and follow us on Twitter and Facebook. We certainly hope that you’ll find those helpful. Also, don’t forget to offer your opinions, questions, or suggestions in the comments section below.

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

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Amdr01d1337
Amdr01d1337
March 9, 2019 9:15 pm

This doesn’t work:

“Locate the Monitoring pane below and enable Show CPU usage.”

All I have in dev options/monitoring is a toggle for “strict mode enabled” and “profile GPU rendering” – no option there to “show CPU usage”. I’m on Pixel 2, stock ROM, 8.1.0, build OPM2.171026.006.G1.

Ivan Jenic
Admin
Ivan Jenic
March 11, 2019 11:24 am
Reply to  Amdr01d1337

Hi,

It seems this option has been removed, which means third-party apps are your only option now.

Amdr01d1337
Amdr01d1337
March 11, 2019 11:55 am
Reply to  Ivan Jenic

It gets even worse. After a bit more digging, it looks like they removed CPU profiling by app *completely* from Oreo now. I think only way you can get it working is if you are rooted, which I’m not. 🙁 Bummer. I was really hoping to figure out the app responsible for overloading my Pixel 2 to the point that it’s barely responsive and practically unusable for anywhere from 10 seconds to a minute or more. Although, this does usually seem to happen after opening Facebook Messenger’s “Chat Heads” UI to reply to a message, so I’m suspecting that it’s… Read more »

Ivan Jenic
Admin
Ivan Jenic
March 11, 2019 12:37 pm
Reply to  Amdr01d1337

Thanks for the heads up! I’ll update the article.

Yeah, It seems third-party apps are not allowed to access the hardware status due to security reasons. And this probably won’t change in Android Q. So, it appears that rooting is the only way to go.
The closest thing to checking resource usage by app is by going to Dev options > Running services. Maybe you’ll get an idea of what’s going on from there.
However, if you suspect Messenger is the culprit, you can try the Lite version, if you’re willing to make a compromise.

John
John
July 14, 2020 1:12 pm
Reply to  Ivan Jenic

Even if you’re rooted under Android 9 neither Tinycore nor CPU-Z shows CPU usage per app.

GKA
GKA
April 10, 2019 10:04 am

System monitor lite link doesn’t work. Either app was deleted or there is mistake in address.