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Maximizing Android Battery Life - The Ultimate Guide

Published By: lankanmon
On: 6 June 2014 at 3:18pm

One of the most valuable components of a mobile device is the battery. It provides the lifeblood of the device and keeps it functioning all day long. The problem with most modern devices is that they consume a lot more power than that of the past. Sometimes, this would mean a loss of power in the middle of the day. Batteries can also lose their capacity over time, resulting in a much shorter battery life over time.


This guide will help you get the most out of your battery by giving you helpful tips and help you learn what makes a modern battery drain fast.



Quick Fixes


Device Brightness

- An obvious culprit of battery drain is the devices display. Particularly the display brightness. Some devices have backlights while others using OLED (or a variation like AMOLED) will self illuminate.

- Reduce brightness when you are indoors and try to only use a high brightness when in direct sunlight.

- Disable automatic brightness. The devices ambient light sensor will keep sending light data to the processor (CPU) which must then change brightness accordingly. This CPU usage can drain more battery.

-- Note: If you care constantly going in and out of sunlight, then keeping the automatic brightness on is worth it.


Disable Hardware

- Most devices now come with a lot of hardware to improve overall experience, but many are unused regularly.

- Disable hardware and radios like Wifi, Bluetooth, NFC & GPS to reduce power consumption when they are not needed.

- Other hardware that should be taken into account include cameras and flashers and how often they are used. In modern devices, the camera flash is unnecessary in most situations as the software easily handles exposure.

-- Note: Hardware like GPS are needed if you use applications like Google Maps for Navigation (disable when you don’t need it, enable when you do)

* View Power Widget category below


Power Widget

- As shown above, disabling some hardware increases battery life by a lot.

- Android comes with a built in Power Toggle widget that can be placed on the home screen to make this process easier.

- It can be found under Widgets and is named “Power Control”

- Recent versions of Android also gives easy access to power toggles through the drop down notifications bar


Sync

- The sync feature of the device keeps all of the accounts and their services updated with their servers. Many apps also use this as a way to know when they can check for updates or to update their databases.

- The sync feature can also use more power of left on, as the device will often try to sync data.

- The a sync button can be found in Settings as well as in the notification bar to allow you to enable and disable device syncing.

- Disabling syncing when you don’t need it to will reduce battery consumption.


Widgets

- Some widgets, specifically those that display updated information like Twitter or Facebook, will run each time you go to your home screen consuming more battery.

- Change the update settings or Remove any widgets that you think can improve your battery life.


Live Wallpaper

- Live wallpapers look cool, but they require the CPU and possibly GPU (if your device has one) to render those awesome scenes.

- Having a solid image could help you greatly if it comes down to the last few percent of the battery.

* See Wallpaper below


Wallpaper

- If your device sports an AMOLED display (or any OLED variation), you can save a ton of battery by changing your wallpaper to a dark shade or possibly black wallpaper.

- Unlike LCD (or IPS variation) which uses a backlight, OLED displays produce their own light, removing the need for a backlight. By making a wallpaper dark, those pixels are not illuminated reducing battery consumption.


Update Apps

- This may be trivial, but it is something that is quite common.

- Many developers update apps to use less power and to fix any high drain bugs.

- Having your device regularly updated will help avoid any of these problems.


Shorter Timeouts

- The devices display has a timeout feature that will automatically turn off the display, if you are inactive.

- Set this time for a short delay to increase battery savings.

- Some displays turn on when you receive a message. If each message turn on the screen and it stays on for 30sec that would be a big chunk of power drained.

- You may also use your device to check time and let if go off on its own. The same applies...

- View the displays share of power consumption in the Battery application (see heading with same name for more details)


Vibration

- Although vibration is often used by many, for its privacy and noise reduction, it can also drain the battery if often used.

- To vibrate the device, a small motor must spin an offset weight. As with all moving objects, a lot of battery is used in the process.

- Try setting the volume to the lowest level, just above 0. It will be the most efficient as vibration is not needed and you can still have some privacy.

-- Note: This is only a major factor if you use the vibration functionality often - eg. for every notification you receive


Features

- Many new mobile devices come with great new features like fingerprint scanning, facial recognition or gestures.

- Regardless of what they are named, these features use additional sensors (like biometric scanner) and hardware (like camera) to make them work. Many of which are a great novelty to have, but don’t actually get used day-to-day.

- Disabling any that you don’t use in the Settings menu will greatly increase your battery life.

- Even basic features like device rotation use sensors. Use your judgement to se determine which features you use and which you don’t need.




Not-so-quick Fixes


Call Length

- Keeping the length of phone calls to a minimum will also benefit your battery as the constant connection with the cellular tower uses a lot of power.

- Text messaging, when possible, is a friendly alternative.

- This will also help with keeping your bills small.


Task Manager

- Task managers help see which applications are running, consuming resources and misbehaving.

- There are many to choose from and can be found in Google Play or your favourite app market.

- Use them to identify which applications are causing constant system wake-ups and disable/replace them.


App Congestion

- Each application has a different way of running. Some of which run in the background; even if they appear off.

- Many applications running in the background will drain the battery.

- Use the application manager to remove any applications that you do not need or replace them with more efficient applications (sometimes, one application can do the work of many)

- In the application manager, go to the currently running tab to see which apps are running in the background.

-- Note: look at the application description and reviews to determine if that is what you need.


Polling

- Polling is the process in which an application sends a signal to its servers (like Twitter or Facebook) to check for any updates to content - to see if you have any new posts or if someone liked something you posted.

- Excessive polling can drain battery life as it wakes up the CPU, and uses your mobile data or wifi to check for updates to the content.

- Some applications allow you to change polling in the apps Settings menu.

- Increasing the time between each poll will reduce battery consumption

-- Note: This can reduce the frequency that you get updates (unless you manually refresh), so avoid doing this for priority accounts like email.


Signal Strength

- Signal strength between your device and cellular tower or even the distance to your wifi access point can increase the battery drain.

- The weaker the signal, the harder the device works to reach it, which results in a massive battery drain.

- If cellular signal is low, and you are not expecting to use your cellular radio, disable it with Airplane Mode. It will save you a lot of power.

- Add wifi signal boosters/repeaters to your home network of the signal is weak at a place where you often use your device.

-- Note: Airplane mode will save battery a lot, but it also prevents incoming calls and the use of other radios like wifi, so use at your discretion.


Network Selection

- 3G and 4G networks are fast, but they also drain battery much faster.

- If you do not plan to use your data connection, you can disable 3G /4G and use a slower network. Calling and Texting will still work fine and you will save a lot more power.

- Some devices allow these changes in the Settings menu called “Use only 2G networks” and there are apps that you can get to help switch between them.




For Your Information


Battery Application

- Android has a built in battery application that keeps track of the battery usage. It tracks usage by apps, services & hardware and shows you the causes for the greatest battery drain.

- It can be found under the Settings, and is named “Battery” or “Battery Use”.

- This application can be used to identify ways to reduce battery use, by modifying their use or changing settings

* View App Polling category below


Battery Temperature

- Try to keep battery at a moderate temperature - not too hot or too cold.

- High temperature (like sitting in direct sunlight or in a hot car) will make the battery drain much faster.

- Storing spare batteries in a Zip-Lock bag (or any sealed container) in a refrigerator (NOT freezer) will greatly increase battery storage lifetime.


Power Off

- This does not need to be said, but i’ll say it anyway. If you are in a pinch and you only have a few percent left, power down the device (completely off - not sleep).

- The device is not using any power when it is off, and if you can take out the battery to ensure that it is not drained by parasitic battery drain.


Initialize Battery

- When you get a new device or replace the battery of your current device, you need to first initialize the battery.

- Initializing will ensure that you reach the batteries maximum capacity.

- Nickel-based batteries should be charged for 16 hours initially. They should also have  around 2-4 full charge - full discharge cycles

- Lithium-based batteries should be charged for about 5-6 hours

- Even if the device displays battery as charged, it is recommended to let them continue charging for the entire recommended time to ensure complete charge.


Charge Cycle

- Most modern devices use some type of Lithium-based batteries.

- Lithium batteries should NOT be drained completely before recharge. Complete drainage will damage the battery

- Short charge cycles will prolong the lifetime of Lithium-based batteries (try to recharge with one bar or more left in the power meter).

- Nickel based batteries (NiMH & NiCd), although uncommon can be used in older devices. They require full charge/discharge cycles to avoid the “memory effect”


Accessories

- There are many options for battery addons. You may also use these to extend your battery life until next time you can charge.

- Some options include: juice packs, spare batteries (if your battery can be easily removed), and battery cases (cases that have an additional battery built in)

- Portable solar panels can also be used, if you find yourself in a sunny location.


Reviews

- If you have not purchased an Android device or are looking to buy another, there are many review websites that test devices for their ‘real’ battery stats.

- These are usually different than the manufacturer ratings and will help you determine if the device is good for your needs.




The intention of this article is to help you maximize your battery life. This list is in no-way complete and will continue to be updated with even better ways to save battery. As with any post you read on the net, you should use this information with a grain of salt. I do not take any responsibility for the way this information is used.


-- If you know any other great ways to save battery power, leave a comment below!

 

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