Android 101.06: More Than 20 Battery Tips And Tricks Every Android User Should Know About

by Andrew Greenfield on
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Some of you may remember that a long time ago I wrote an article that had 18 little tidbits that could help your phone last longer. This article will be updating it since the post is now dated. If you still wish to see it, you can find it here. In a day in age where how long something lasts seems to be the be all end all (zing), you might find yourself in a place where you need to stretch your batteries life as far as you can. Whether it be for a long car/plane ride, lack of a charger for a long time, or whatever your reason is, we’ve all had those times where we’ve monitored our battery like someone was trying to steal it.  There are tips for new users, more experienced users, and even root users.

These tricks have been assembled from throughout my days as an Android enthusiast and battery connoisseur (and as an Evo owner,  the media might like to make you believe that last one is impossible). Like with the first article I must warn you: Do not try and do all of these at once. I’m borderline obsessed with my battery and even I only pick and choose which to use throughout my day. If you spend all your time staring at your battery percentage and micro managing all of these tips you’ll ruin your Android experience. The tips will increase in “expected Android knowledge” as they go (so the first few will be for complete newbies while the last ones will be meant for vets), but if you have any questions about them please ask! Also, tips noted in italics are currently up to debate in the Android world. This means that there is a lot of debate back and forth whether about whether or not they work. However, if they’ve made this list they’ve persuaded me from my personal testing so I will share them with you.

1) Try not to use live wallpapers a lot

I’ll be the first to admit that live wallpapers are really cool. However, live wallpapers use a lot of battery life. Your screen has to constantly be changing, it uses up memory, and it draws resources from your phone. I still have a few to show off to friends, but if you can avoid using them all the time you’ll notice a dramatic increase in how long your battery lasts.

2) Set your screen timeout to something personal

Every phone has the option to change the length in time between the last action and when your screen turns off. If you’re someone who consistently forgets to lock your phone/turn your screen off, it might be a good idea to set your screen timeout to something smaller like 2-3 minutes. If you’re someone who reads a lot or (for whatever reason) needs your screen on for long periods of time without wanting to worry about constantly unlocking it you should probably try something bigger. Turning your screen on and off can reduce your battery life almost as much as leaving it on and letting it dim. So if you know you’re going to be checking the weather every 30 seconds set your screen time out for something longer so you don’t have to keep unlocking it.

3) Use the app Juicedefender

This incredibly useful app gives you loads of options to help you keep your phone running as long as possible. It even has advanced options for root users (paid version). If you’re one of those people who needs to have their phone last forever, this app is a must. You can find it in the Market here.

4) Watch your gaming/video watching

The cooler/more advanced the game looks, the more power it will probably draw. Games and videos are great and I love utilizing my phone’s ability to handle both. However, be aware that they are very battery intensive and playing that first person shooter for an hour or watching a full movie will cripple your phone’s battery life if it’s not plugged in.

5) Don’t use your camera’s flash unless you absolutely need it

If you need to take a picture in a low lit area there’s no avoiding it, but we all know that there are times where you phones wants to use flash and it doesn’t really need it. Turn off the auto flash in these situations. Similarly, watch out for using your phone’s flash as a flashlight/torch. There are a lot of useful apps that allow you to use your phone’s LED flash as a flashlight, and while they are useful, they are also the single fastest way to drain your battery. If you can find a quicker way I’d be impressed. Keeping that light on absolutely sucks the life out of your phone; that little sucker is quite the power hungry bugger. If you need a flashlight there are many apps that allow your phone to just display a white screen which should be plenty bright for most occasions. I’ve only really needed to use the LED flashlight once or twice (it is great for illuminating entire rooms).

6) TURN OFF RADIOS THAT YOU AREN’T USING

Radios are what connect your phone to the rest of the world. You have your general mobile connection, wifi, Bluetooth,  data/internet connection (3G), GPS, and/or 4G. Those are listed in order from least to greatest in battery consumption. If you’re not using the radio turn it off. If you know you won’t be online for a long time, why turn 3G data on? If you’re at home, use wifi instead of 3G. If you’re not using Google Maps why is your GPS on? You’d be amazed at how much battery life you can save just by turning off the radios that you aren’t using. There are plenty of widgets in the market that will allow you to turn off the radios without even going through settings (Sense users have these widgets packaged in). Above all, use wifi whenever you can. The wifi radio requires very little power and can easily double or triple your battery life when compared directly to 3G. If you’re playing Angry Birds, not only will turning off 3G allow you to play the free version without ads (crazy, huh?), but it’ll allow you to cater to your obsession for even longer.

**This probably affects most Android users and if you’re one of those people that didn’t know about it you’ll be amazed at how much longer your phone lasts while using this tip.**

**This is the first thing I teach new Android users that are accustomed to the battery life of old feature phones. It’s that much of a game changer**

7) Turn off always on mobile data

On HTC phones, the method for turning this off is menu, settings, wireless & networks, mobile networks, disable always on mobile data. This process may be slightly different for your phone, and the name of the setting may be slightly different as well. But what this does is prevent your phone’s data from ALWAYS being on. Often times this will disable data after your phone’s screen has been off for about 5 minutes. This won’t affect your email, weather, or other apps that require syncing; your data is turned on to sync those during their regular schedule.

8 ) Speaking of Syncing, manage it

Check your settings to see what is syncing and when. You probably have things syncing you don’t even use (stocks, news, photo albums, etc). You can turn those off and edit the other ones. I don’t need my contacts’ statuses every hour, so my facebook sync is scheduled for once a day rather than the old once an hour. However, I like my weather being up to date so it’s synced every half hour. Find out what you need and how often you want it, and turn the rest off.

9) Low signal is the leading cause of dead battery in the United States*

*warning, these statements have not been evaluated by anyone who has taken any statistical data.

That being said, other than #4, this might be the fastest “way” to drain your battery. Your phone is always searching for a stronger signal. It does this by boosting power to your respective radio as the signal gets lower (so if you only have one bar, your phone is pushing a lot of power to that radio. If you have full bars it likely is using the minimal amount of power it can afford). So if you’re at one bar your phone’s battery life will drop faster than if you’ve got full coverage. There’s not much you can do here, but if you’re in a place where your phone has little to no signal anyway, you probably won’t be making calls so you might want to just turn on airplane mode or your phone off.

10) Don’t use GPS unless you have to

Some apps give you the option to precisely determine your position using GPS, or make a general estimate (usually within 100 meters) based on wifi or 3G data. While this isn’t always the best (like if you’re driving or getting navigated), try to use the 3G connection when it doesn’t really matter. The data radio uses far less battery than GPS as noted in #5. It is generally assumed that assumed that the GPS radio turns itself off when not in use, but several users’ testing (including my own) still shows that having it on all the time causes your battery to drain faster. Unless you’re using navigation you really don’t need it for much. 3G is accurate enough that weather and most location based services (searches, etc) will still be more than accurate enough.

11) Vibrate uses more battery

Vibrating your phone requires a small motor. Motors require power*. Because of this, having your phone set on vibrate or using haptic feedback means you’re using slightly more battery than you normally would. A lot of keyboards have the option to turn off haptic feedback and I would recommend it for those of you pushing several thousand texts a month. If you’re a heavy texter you’ll notice very quickly how much longer your phone will last. Also, if you’re in a place where you can easily hear your phone why do you need to have vibrate enabled? If you know you’ll be able to hear your phone there’s no reason for it to be buzzing too. There are definitely times when you want your phone on vibrate, but if it’s sitting next to your work on your desk does it need to ring and vibrate to get your attention?

12) Don’t use automatic task killers.

Crazy, right? Especially if you’re on Froyo (Android 2.2) or higher, Android has it’s own task killer that’s actually very good. If programs are using too much memory your Android OS will kill it. A common misconception is that apps run in the background forever; this is not true. If an app is using too much memory (which links to battery life) it’ll be killed by your phone. That’s why if you play a game, check a message, and come back the game is still running. It’s memory usage isn’t that high. However if you put your phone down, walk away for an hour, and the game is still trying to run in the background, there’s a good chance it will be closed before you come back. Separate task managers have to constantly be running in the background which can actually use more battery than it saves. Yes, task managers can use more battery than they save. If you want a full explanation for this effect, you can read about it here.

13) Manually trickle charge your phone

Originally posted by kthejoker20, this trick came from HTC themselves and can seriously increase your battery life.

With the phone in the on position

Fully charge the battery with the phone on… (until the led turns green.)

Once the led turns green, unplug the charger until the led goes off.

After the led goes off, plug the charger back in. When the led turns green , power off the phone.

now…. with the phone fully powered off…

1. Unplug the charger.

2. Wait until led goes off.

3. Plug charger back in until the led turns green. When it turns green, unplug the charger again and go to step 1.

4. repeat steps 1 and 3, 10 times. This may take anywhere from 30 seconds to 30 mins per cycle. Typically only about 1 minute. though.

It takes too much work for me, but I’ve done it once just to test it. It works.

This method is for those of you that notice how quickly the first bit of your battery drains. This is because your phone does not actually charge to 100%…sorta. It charges to close to that and then drains it down to about 90%. Your phone still shows that it is at 100% though. In order to make up for this, you can actually watch your battery “drain” from 100% to the lower 90′s.

14) Avoid doing #12 by unplugging your phone early

If you unplug your phone right as it hits 100% it won’t drain down to 90%. This is only useful if you’re in a position to watch your phone (hard core OCD) or are just lucky and notice that it is almost fully charged. #12 is used for if you wake up and you want some extra juice and for those of you wanting to avoid SBC kernels (see #19), this is the quickest option.

15) Kill tasks you aren’t using

Either get a task killer or an AOSP ROM that has this feature built into the back button, but killing tasks you aren’t using can save you a little bit of battery. Unlike #10 where tasks are killed almost at random, this allows you to kill only the apps you know you’re done with. So if you’re done playing that tower defense and you don’t care that the app is still keeping track of where you are on the endless level, just kill it.

16) Calibrate your battery

There are so many ways that people to do this, so find out which way you think sounds better, works best for you, or gives you a cash bonus and try it. My personal method is letting my phone charge all the way then using it until the battery is completely drained (aka turns off by itself) then fully charging it. This is how a lot of computers instruct you to calibrate your battery, so this method seemed to make the most sense to me.

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-The following tips will only apply to root users-

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17) Clear your battery stats in recovery

This is commonly used in battery calibrating methods, but one thing is certain: If your battery is acting uncharacteristically erratic and you know it’s not the kernel or ROM, clearing your battery stats in recovery will often alleviate the problem.

18) Check to make sure your phone is sleeping

I’m sure you have all heard around that your phone isn’t “sleeping”.
This is referring to the phone’s “awake” time, hence the name. When you go to menu>settings>about phone>battery, you can compare the two numbers, “up time” vs. “awake time.” Generally, up time refers to the amount of time since the last reboot. The “awake time” is how long the screen has been active. The problem is, a lot of the time, due to the endless possibilities of inconsistencies between apps/ROMs/kernels/phones, the phone will not go to “sleep”, drawing power proportionate to the screen being in use when it reality the phone is sitting idle.
If you compare these numbers, and they are the same, or if you note the difference, turn off the screen for a minute, then re-check and they are the same, then your phone is not sleeping.
One solution is to reboot.
Usually, SystemPanel will show an app that has gone “rouge” and is keeping your phone awake.
Uninstall applications/reinstalling them slowly, checking after every install to see what is causing it is one tedious but surefire solution.
Lastly,
Follow these steps that I have discovered almost always work.
1. Reboot phone.
2. Instantly upon reboot, as soon as you gain control, open up some type of monitor/taskkiller
3. “kill all” tasks on startup; about 5 times in quick succession should do the trick.
4. Turn off the screen and leave it for about five minutes.
5. Check the up time v. awake time and see if they are the same.
6. If they are, repeat steps 1-5. If they are different, you are good.

Thanks to Biofall’s  battery thread for showing me this back in the day. I actually had this issue.

19) Use SBC Kernels to trickle charge your phone for you (Warning: Fan Wars Ahead)

If you’re like me, #12 takes more time than I think is worth it. SBC kernels trickle charge your phone for you allowing you to avoid that annoying 10% drop.

What is SBC?

SBC stands for superior battery charging and has become the biggest debate in the kernel world. There is much debate about whether or not these kernels will ruin your battery, destroy it, make your battery explode, or cause it to punch orphans with uncontrollable rage. Other than speculation of what could happen years into the future, there is no concrete evidence that SBC kernels will harm your phone within its life cycle. Trickle charging your phone can cause its ability to store a charge to decline over many months, but with most phones being replaced every year or two this isn’t a big issue. I personally use them, but there are many reasons that people justify not using them. Look into the issue yourself if you’re interested. It’s WAY too complicated to discuss here.

20) Determine if your phone likes HAVS kernels

Try kernels that undervolt your phone. This allows your phone’s processor to slow down when it doesn’t need the extra juice. The faster your phone’s processor is running the more battery it is consuming.

21) Use battery mods if your phone doesn’t like HAVS
If your phone doesn’t like HAVS there are still options for you. The famous Evo one is the collin_ph battery mod. The mods take the place of undervolting kernels when your phone doesn’t agree with them.

22) CFS kernels vs BFS kernels

Similar to SBC, the debate about these two types of kernels is endless. Here’s what I can say: every phone is different. Try using both CFS and BFS kernels and see which one your phone likes better. A lot of kernels come with the option to use CFS or BFS so comparing two versions of the same kernel is an absolute must.

23) Use apps like SetCPU

These apps allow you to manually control your phone’s CPU. This can allow you to set schedules to overclock/undervolt your phone when you see fit. No your phone doesn’t do much when you’re not using it? Undervolt it to save even more battery. Does your phone seem to lag slightly when playing intensive games? Overvolt it when playing those games to prevent that. Think of this as an advanced version of JuiceDefender.

Have any other tricks that you do on your phone? Let us know in the comments below! Any user submitted tips/tricks that work will be added to the article with your name along side it!

» See more articles by Andrew Greenfield


Categorized as Android Applications, Android Guides & Tutorials, Android Rooting, Unique

  • http://myandroidxperience.blogspot.com Ricardo Moura Rocha

    I’d also add turning off Latitude if it’s on. It wakes your phone at regular intervals, which you can’t control, and drains the battery…

  • Peter Miller

    well done. thanks

  • http://www.pcgeekblog.com/ Gouthaman Karunakaran

    I can tell you a quicker way to drain battery than the flashlight!

    It’s the compass (for directions) app. I use it for 3 minutes and it drains 5% of the battery.

    • http://talkandroid.com Andrew Greenfield

      If it’s doing that something else is going on…That’s abnormal.

  • Kore

    Agree with comment above about latitude. It drains my battery 4 times faster.

    #9 is true for every network I was using including GSM.

    One more tip is to move constantly used apps to the phone memory. At least that is true for HTC Desire HD.

    Also you misprinted #12 and #13 in your magnificent useful article.

    Thank you. That was very useful.

  • http://www.volt-up.com Victor

    Another battery saver is VoltUp. On the Android Market at https://market.android.com/details?id=com.voltup.powermax

  • bela

    Do not attempt #13. Overcharging, “trickle charging” or anything of the like is unnecessary and dangerous on lithium based batteries. There’s already a very complex system managing the battery charging process. Why do you think that manual override can improve on that?

  • Mark

    You tell us to delete task killers and then tell us to use them. What gives?

  • Majai

    i am confused on the task killers.. you said not to use them on #12 but it says otherwise in the #15. please clarify.

    • http://talkandroid.com Andrew Greenfield

      Do not use automatic task killers. If you get a task killer, only use it to manually kill apps.

  • http://myandroidxperience.blogspot.com Ricardo Moura Rocha

    What they meant is not to use the in automatic mode…
    In auto mode it runs on the background and do more damage than good, if you just kill an individual app when you’re done with it, it helps sometimes…

  • Kore

    #7 is to disable push notifications. If you need immediate sound on email arrival then do not disable the option.

  • sjb

    rouge =/= rogue

  • http://teenie-pics.com/rsp_13juli11/thumbface.html Leda

    I love this post. I stumbled upon it on yahoo. This blog is ranking very well there. :)

  • http://bGoog.com Google Black!

    Thanks Andrew. Another good way to keep your battery going longer is to use black backgrounds, especially if you have an AMOLED display. Black Google Mobile at http://bGoog.com let’s you search in black and help save the battery at the same time, give it a try!!

  • cosmin

    why is the miliampers drop below 100? and wtf happened to my battery cause every time i unplug my phone from charging….the batery keeps me for…maximum 2 hours….:( please help

    • cosmin

      oh….and it says that my radio is running in the background and consumes almost 100% battery on hardware signal…what shoul i do…i tried to close it….and nothing