Why (and Why Not) to Overclock a Smartphone
Just because you can overclock your phone, doesn’t mean you should. Overclocking has plenty of benefits, but it also comes with a few deterrents – and some of them are pretty risky. We're not trying to discourage you, but we’re going to start with the “Why Nots” of overclocking an Android device.
Voiding Your Warranty
Most manufacturers don’t take kindly to overclocking and will gladly use it as grounds to deny you any warranty service should you ever need to send your phone in for repair; however, much like rooting (which will also void your warranty), overclocking is fairly reversible.
Risk of Permanent Damage
The biggest risk in overclocking an Android device actually comes from the prep rather than the overclocking itself. Before you can overclock, you have to “flash” (another word for “install”) additional software onto the guts of the device’s operating system (aka Firmware). Doing this incorrectly, such as flashing the wrong file, can corrupt the firmware, rendering the device useless. This is also known as “bricking” the device. Compounded with voiding the warranty, this is definitely the biggest risk to consider.
As you push towards the limits of a device’s performance capabilities, you lose stability. Overclocking too far can lead to application crashes, freezing, and system crashes. The trick is finding the best balance between performance and stability.
Now, before you change your mind or lose interest, there are a handful of good reasons to overclock as well.
Overclocking has always been about increasing performance; however, if you’re thinking you’ll be able to make a two-year old phone run as fast as a modern day quad-core monster, you might be disappointed. While the performance gains certainly aren’t monstrous, they can be practical – breathing enough life into an older device in order to make waiting for your next two-year upgrade tolerable, for instance.
Extend Your Battery Life
It may seem a little counter intuitive, especially since overclocking a PC generally results in significant increases in power consumption, but overclocking your Android can actually increase battery life. The overclocking itself isn’t what does it. Rather, underclocking and undervolting do. We’ll go into more detail on this later.
Older devices benefit the most from overclocking. Since most manufacturer warranties only last for a year, you’re risking much less since you don’t need to worry about voiding your warranty. Plus, as developers start to target newer devices, the added performance will help keep an old device relevant longer. Mid and entry-level Android devices can also benefit from the performance boost.
New high-end devices will have no need for extra performance, but it can give you some bragging rights. Some of the byproducts of overclocking, such as additional features and battery savings that come with custom firmware, can be useful too, but don’t forget that if something goes wrong, you may not have a warranty to fall back on.