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My phone has lately been really slow. When I turn on the screen, particularly if it has been off for a while, the phone is really sluggish. For example, it might take 30 seconds to respond to my input. Or if someone calls, it might not respond to my answer gesture until after the caller has already given up and hung up.

If I leave the screen on for several minutes (up to five), the phone will eventually start to respond more normally.

The CPU information in the developer options shows that the processor is pegged during all this slowness, and the process system_server is consuming almost all of that CPU capacity with other processes fighting for a little CPU time.

Also, this CPU activity is killing my battery. I'm only getting half the battery life I should be getting.

I recently lost root in an OTA upgrade; in re-rooting I had to do a wipe of the phone. Once I restored everything, the problem came back.

My phone is a Galaxy Nexus running Jelly Bean (4.1.2). I also experienced a similar issue with my previous phone, a Nexus One running MIUI and "ICS". I attributed that phone's slowness to its age, but now I think there must be something else going on.

What could be wrong, or how could I go about tracking down the problem?

Answers to questions posed

  • My current phone is running 4.1.2. The problem became much worse after the update. My previous phone was the one I said was running "ICS". I put that in quotes because it was a custom ROM that claimed to be 4.0 but which I suspect was actually Gingerbread+.
  • My RAM typically runs at about 85%. But, I doubt this is too useful since Android automatically kills apps when it needs more RAM and the Linux kernel is designed to keep RAM mostly full so as not to waste it.
  • Currently, Google Maps is using the most battery, followed by Tasker. I'm quite sure that this isn't typical, however. I can't imagine why Google Maps would be so high, as I don't use it often. Anyway, I turned off the location permissions, so hopefully that'll cure Google Maps. And Tasker doesn't usually consume so much, but when the CPU is pegged it seems to have a harder time operating than most apps. (By the way, I have no location-based profiles in Tasker.)
  • Upon rebooting my phone, it's OK until the screen goes off for a period of time. Then, the problems resume. They're so severe that it's often faster to reboot than to try to use the phone without rebooting.
  • Auto-rotate seems to have no effect. I regularly toggle it in the normal course of using my phone, and haven't noticed any difference either way.
  • Apps would appear to be the culprit since I've experienced the same issue on two different phones and since doing a factory reset. However:
    • The process that's consuming the CPU isn't an app but system_server, which is a core part of Android.
    • I have a lot of apps, so disabling them one by one would be a time-consuming process.
  • I tried re-nicing system_server, but I didn't se any effect.
share|improve this question
    
4.0 is ICS, 4.1 is JB. But anyway, perhaps you could post some more info on how full your RAM is when this happens. You can see this in Apps>Running. And have you looked at which apps use the most battery? Which are those? And how often does this happen? Once a dat? Evevery time you turn on the phone? A few random things to try: - turn off auto-rotate; - update to 4.1.2. If you say the problem came back after restoring, could it be that a certain application, or a combination of certain applications, is the culprit? I would probably force-stop all apps if I were you, then turn on 1 by 1. –  Cerberus Nov 1 '12 at 7:34
    
@Cerberus: See my edit above. –  Scott Severance Nov 1 '12 at 8:09
    
You might also want to check My device is getting slow, apps start misbehaving/crashing. What can I do? for some useful hints. –  Izzy Mar 23 '13 at 22:19
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4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

This looks like it could be an issue with certain background services malfunctioning. Try observing the background services and disable some of them to see if you might hit the culprit. To do it in a way that is less hit and miss, there are several battery app in the market or you can use ICS native battery monitor to see if there are anything that are consuming more battery than it really should.

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Thanks for this answer. I used Titanium Backup to freeze a number of background processes. My phone is running normally now. I don't know yet exactly which process it was, but I'll work that out eventually. –  Scott Severance Nov 1 '12 at 10:08
4  
It turns out the offending app was Google Goggles. –  Scott Severance Nov 3 '12 at 17:48
    
I had a similar issue with HD Widgets causing all kinds of problems on my Nexus 7. –  Tim Scarborough Jan 4 '13 at 12:36
    
Further experience has shown that the actual culprit is any antivirus software. –  Scott Severance Feb 12 '13 at 6:12
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I've had a similar issue with my new mobile, Razr Maxx running ICS. It turned out to be an overzealous car HUD application that consumed CPU cycles even when not running. Uninstalling it solved the problem. What confused me initially was that Android OS was shown as the main battery drainer and not the app itself. Since you had the same issue with your previous phone, this suggests a misbehaving application that you have installed on both.

I would try turning off GPS and mobile data/Wi-fi and observe whether the battery continues to drain at a similar alarming rate. If it's the internet connection that triggers the problem, this is likely due to an ad-supported application unsuccessfully trying to phone home.

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Another very common source of Galaxy Nexus slowdowns is quite a nasty hardware/firmware issue documented here: http://code.google.com/p/android/issues/detail?id=39154 .

This will probably affect you if you have less than 3 to 4Gb storage free. There are some workarounds but they involve root and thus possible warranty invalidation. I found that clearing out some storage and rebooting does help somewhat, but have not yet tried the workarounds.

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Thanks, but this isn't my issue add my problem occurs without regard to free space. –  Scott Severance Jan 9 '13 at 5:44
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Check the running services. You will know what is running unnecessarily. I closed these, and I could immediately see a change in speed.

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This is basically the same as using a task killer. It doesn't work. If a service is running unnecessarily, it has to be uninstalled. However, as mentioned in my question, and in the accepted answer, it isn't a simple thing to just look in the process list and realize which app is responsible. -1 for the suggestion that's like a task killer, and for an answer that is less helpful than the existing answers. –  Scott Severance Feb 12 '13 at 6:09
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