Did you know that most manufacturers/vendors and network carriers preinstall applications on their smartphone products before selling them to customers? You may have noticed such practices as well after purchasing a new smartphone but didn't think much about it. Such apps are collectively known as bloatware, and while most of them aren't dangerous per se, junk applications can adversely affect your smartphone's performance. So what can you do about it?

In this article, we'll tackle the definition of bloatware and how it affects smartphone performance. More importantly, we'll go over the measures that you can take to protect yourself from bloatware and remove unwanted applications from your device. Let's get right to it!

What Is Bloatware Exactly?

Bloatware can be defined as any unwanted app that causes undue strain and negatively impacts the performance of your smartphone device. As explained earlier, these apps can come preinstalled on your device, but they can also be “injected” through malicious sites and third-party applications.

The reasons behind the proliferation of bloatware can vary depending on its implementation. For one thing, bloatware may be the work of software developers pushing deals with manufacturers to preinstall their apps on the smartphones that they produce. Bloatware can also be used to promote branded solutions in the form of trial apps or serve as an additional source of revenue for advertisers.

It is well worth mentioning that not all bloatware is harmful to your device. Some provide useful updates for your smartphone or add features such as new themes, games, or media players. In most cases, preinstalled applications from reputable manufacturers are well optimized and do not adversely affect performance. They are also usually easy to remove and can be uninstalled just like any app.

What is more concerning is bloatware that might infect your smartphone through malicious websites and apps. These types of bloatware usually contain malware that can degrade your phone's performance or, worse — steal sensitive information in the background.

How Does Bloatware Affect my Phone?

The most apparent effect of bloatware is that it can slow down your smartphone. It's worse for devices that are not equipped with particularly powerful hardware, to begin with. Bloatware can severely degrade smartphone performance to the point that it's barely usable.

As explained above, bloatware can also act like malware and present a far serious problem for users. Apart from taking up space and processing power, these junk apps can spy on your personal information and leave your device vulnerable to a wide range of cybersecurity threats — phishing, identity theft, ransomware, etc.

How to Remove It From Your Phone

Now that we've established the risks of leaving bloatware sitting on your smartphone, how do you go about removing them? Well, it's not as difficult as you might think and can be accomplished in a few simple steps.

Note that for this short tutorial, we'll be referencing an unrooted Xiaomi Black Shark Android Smartphone. That said, the steps should be somewhat similar to other smartphone devices.

  1. Access list of installed apps on your smartphone
bloatware delete

Open the settings page through the notification bar (the gear icon) or the home menu. Tap on “Apps & Notifications.”

  1. Find the bloatware causing the problem
find bloatware

At this point, you should be looking at a list of installed apps on your smartphone. Review the list and tap on the bloatware that you want to remove from your device. In this case, we found that the Android smartphone came preinstalled with a game called “Assassin's Creed Unity”.

  1. Disable or Uninstall the Bloatware
disable app

If you're lucky, you'll be able to tap on an “Uninstall” button and remove the app from your smartphone. However, you won't be able to do that with most preinstalled apps. In our case, the only option available was a “Disable” and “Force Stop” button. Tap on Disable first and then the Force Stop button. Doing so will prevent the app from running in the background.

  1. Confirm disabling the app
confirm disabling

After tapping on the disable button, your Android device might warn you that doing so may hinder other apps from running on your smartphone. You should be fine as long as it's a junk app and serves no essential purpose — security updates, messaging, camera, etc.

Note that without the “uninstall” option, the bloatware may be inactive, but it will still take up storage space in your smartphone. To delete it, you'll have to “root” your phone, which we don't recommend doing as it'll void your warranty and make your device susceptible to security exploits.

How to Prevent Bloatware

As the old saying goes — prevention is better than cure, and the best-case scenario for any user is never to have to deal with bloatware in the first place. In this regard, we have the following recommendations:

  • Before buying a smartphone, do your research and make sure that it doesn't have any bloatware on it. Top smartphone manufacturers sell models that offer what they call a “Stock Android” experience. That means that the device is running the original and unmodified version of Android directly from Google. Such devices include the Google Pixel 3 and 4, Nokia 9 Pureview, and the Motorola One Vision.
  • Avoid downloading and installing apps from unverified sources. Only use apps straight from Google Play or the App Store if you're on iOS (iPhone and iPads).
  • Invest in a good VPN (Virtual Private Network) service that screens the websites and apps you use for malware. VPNs also encrypt all data from your device, so even if bloatware does go through, your personal information will not be accessible to third-parties.

Are you wondering which VPN to use to protect your smartphone from bloatware? Check out the following recommendations:


FEATURES
AssguardSurfsharkNordVPNIPVanish
Safe JurisdictionNo (USA)
Voice call-friendly connection speed
AES-256 encryption
Number of countries50+ 61+59 75+
No-logs policy
24/7 Customer support
No of devices6Unlimited610
Supports chain VPN connectionsYes (Double VPN)Yes (Multihop)Yes (Double VPN)No
Price range
(per month)
$4.99 – $7.99$1.99 – $11.95$3.49 – $11.95$3.25 – $5.00

If you need help installing a VPN, just follow the steps: How to Set Up a VPN on Android

Summary

So there you have it — all that you need to know about bloatware and how to remove or disable them on your smartphone device. As you may have already realized, these junk apps aren't something that should be ignored, and people should take steps to fight them at the first sign of trouble. Perhaps the best way to do that is to make good use of a powerful VPN service that effectively mitigates your risk of having to deal with malware in the first place.

Mark Coulman
About Mark Coulman

Cybersecurity expert with a keen interest in technology and digital privacy. Mark has more than 14 years of experience in creating and managing various reliable WEB applications for IT companies in the EU and the US. Loves 3-4 letter words like PHP, XML, HTML, CSS, DB2, ASP, CRM, ERP, SAP, etc.