How to overclock Android, we increase speed of the processor

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No matter how fast our phones are, there is always room to make them a little faster. Fortunately, Android lets you do just that. The process is called overclocking and simply means to force your CPU and make it work a little faster than it normally does. Here's how to overclock your Android phone by increasing processor speed.

PC users may already be familiar with overclocking. In particular, players who have overclocked their hardware for years, pushing their machines towards more powerful performances. The same possibility exists for Android: you can tell your CPU to run faster than the manufacturer's recommended settings. The process is surprisingly simple and can offer you up to 30 percent more power. Here's all you need to know.

Before you start, take a moment to read

First of all, I must warn you. Overclocking the phone's CPU involves some risks. Increasing the CPU clock speed generates more heat and consumes more energy. It is unlikely to burn the phone or consume the battery very quickly because excess heat production can create instability and affect battery life.

Think about it for a moment. Don't try to jump immediately to a 30 percent increase in clock speed. Increase it slowly and evaluate how stable the system is with every small increase. If Android is working properly, the phone's heat and battery life are acceptable and there are no crashes or strange behaviors, you can try to further increase the speed of your processor. If instead, the phone starts behaving like a drunk, it returns to the last stable clock speed.

What is a kernel?

The kernel is a computer program that is the core of a computer's operating system. It is often one of the first programs loaded when a device is started, sometimes referred to as a bootloader. The kernel performs tasks such as executing processes, managing the hard disk, handling interrupts and ordering the boot process.

It does this in a protected part of memory, known as Android kernel space, uses the Linux kernel, but you can change it if you run the root of your device.

The right kernel for overclocking

So if you've read the first two paragraphs, let's move on. The only thing you need to change your Android phone's CPU settings is a kernel that supports overclocking. Overclocking is a staple of the modding community, so there is no shortage of good kernels to choose from. You just need to get the right kernel for your particular phone model.

First, find the model number of your phone.

  • Go to Settings> About phone and take a look.

We also advise you to take note of the Android version you are using.

You also need to root the phone to overclock the CPU.

For more information on what is root on Android, see our guides below. Of course, this process is not covered by warranty, so proceed at your own risk. You will also need a custom reset installed.

For more information read below:

Replacing the kernel and overclocking doesn't take time at all, but it's worth spending some time searching for the right kernel. Sites like XDA Developers are a great starting point. There are four things you need to look for in a kernel: that supports overclocking, which is compatible with your phone model, which works on your current Android version and which has a good reputation.

The more popular a kernel is, the easier it will be to get help from the community if you need it or find some suggested settings (if you prefer to learn from the efforts of others rather than understanding for yourself). The more information there is, the less chance you have of making a mistake.

Overclocking software for your kernel

Some kernels come with custom-designed software to help you get the most out of the kernel. 

This can result in a simple slider for overclocking, CPU controller settings, Undervoltage options and more. 

If the kernel you've chosen has a companion app, use it. Otherwise, look for an overclocking app or generic CPU manager with a good rating and positive comments in the Play Store.

Once you get the kernel for your particular phone model and make sure it works with your Android version and supports overclocking, you're good to go. For this tutorial, we are overclocking a Nexus 6 with root on Android 6.0 Marshmallow with the ElementalX kernel.

Many custom ROM kernels already support overclocking, so if you're using a custom ROM, read some info to see if you need to change the kernel.

How to overclock your Android phone

To be able to install a custom kernel, you need to root the phone. You will also need a custom recovery installed (because it is not possible to flash kernels using stock recovery). 

If you need help with this, follow our guide on how to install a custom recovery from the link above. The guide "should" be useful for all devices. 

  1. Make sure you have a data backup. You can do it through your personalized recovery or with any number of apps or PC-based solutions. If you need help with this, follow our guide on how to backup everything on Android
  2. After choosing the kernel you want to use, download it to your Android (you can leave it in the Downloads folder). You can also download the kernel to your computer and copy the zip file to the root directory of your phone if you prefer, but it's just as easy to do it on your phone through recovery.
  3. Turn off the phone and restart it using the Fastboot mode. Usually done by pressing Power and Volume Down but some manufacturers have a different combination of buttons.
  4. On the quick start screen, use the volume buttons to highlight the recovery mode and press the power button to select it.
  5. You will now access custom recovery. We are using TWRP.
  6. Tap the Install button (or "Install zip" in the CWM restore) and go to the location where you saved the kernel zip file.
  7. Install the kernel zip file and wait for a successful message. Some kernels (like Elemental X in our example) will guide you through a series of screens like the Installation Wizard on your computer.

Some kernels will allow you to set the CPU clock speed during installation. Changes can be made at any time using the installed CPU management app. See below for instructions on the latter.

  1. Clear the cache after properly installing the kernel.
  2. Go to Advanced Settings in Recovery and tap "Correct Permissions".
  3. Restart the system.

Changing the CPU clock speed

If you haven't changed the CPU settings during the installation of your custom kernel, you can now start your CPU manager or kernel app. If you have not already installed compatible software for your kernel, you will need to find an app in the Play Store.

There are many that work well, but I personally use a free app called Kernel Adiutor. You will need to grant the root app permission to the kernel and you may also need to install BusyBox (which will require root privileges).

Look for settings that control the CPU clock speed. Depending on the app you are using, you can choose a maximum CPU speed from a drop-down menu or use a slider. Remember, slide slowly and try to accelerate a little at a time to see how it affects stability, battery life and heat. Start at about 10 percent more than your current clock speed and proceed upwards.

Don't be surprised if your CPU speed doesn't instantly increase with those new settings. What you are doing when overclocking Android is changing the maximum speed of the CPU, so it will be able to offer higher performance when needed.

Although it is also possible to change the minimum clock speed, this puts a strain on the processor and battery. After all, you don't need to maximize the CPU just to read the emails.

If you encounter instability with your new settings, go back and lower your maximum clock speed slightly and see how you are.

If you encounter problems that seem out of the ordinary, visit the forums or the place where you downloaded the kernel and read the comments to see if anyone else has already solved your problem. If not, ask the community for help. If all else fails, you can simply re-flash the original kernel that came with your device.

Let us know how it went and how fast your Android phone runs now.

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