Speed up your Android device by tweaking the kernel

If you’re happy with the software on your tablet as it is you may not see the need to flash a custom ROM to replace it.

This doesn’t mean there’s no good reason to not root the device anyway. Perhaps the simplest way to improve the performance of a tablet without making any radical changes to how you use it is to flash a different kernel. A good custom kernel to use, and one that is available for most devices, is franco.Kernel. You need the paid version from the Play Store to fully customise its settings.

What is the Android kernel

The kernel is a slightly abstract concept in that it is involved in literally everything your tablet does, but has no real consumer application.

The kernel controls the hardware, and how it interacts with the software, and by tweaking it you can significantly alter a device’s performance.

The stock kernel used on your tablet will have optimised by the manufacturer to provide a balance between speed, stability and battery life.

A custom kernel will come with its own default settings, based on the priorities of the developer, and many have a companion app that can be further used to tweak the settings to your own priorities.

A good way to do this is by experimenting with the kernel’s CPU Governors. These set how the processor functions under different types of usage, such as how quickly it will ramp up to full speed when required and how quickly it drops back down again.


These are normally accessible through a simple drop down list in the kernel management app, and have a noticeable effect on speed, battery and smoothness.

3 kernel settings to tweak

CPU Governor

These set how the processor reacts when required to perform certain tasks. The OnDemand setting will, for example, ramp up to maximum speed quickly and reduce slowly, which is great for mulitasking but may be heavy on the battery. Conservative runs as slowly as possible, boosting battery but affecting speed.

Clock speed

Most kernels enable you to change the clock speed of a processor. Increasing it will make the phone faster but potentially less stable. Contrary to popular belief underclocking is unlikely to have any real impact on your battery life.

Task Scheduler

Kernels generally have two types of task scheduler, which balance how resources are used. Stock kernels use CFS, which is optimised for multitasking and ensures equal performance across your apps. BFS prioritises the foreground app and can be great for gaming but less effective for regular use.

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