How To: Conserve Android Battery Life
  • How To: Conserve Android Battery Life

    If you are one of us who have recently made the jump to one of the new Android based Smartphones on the market, you most likely have noticed that the battery life of these devices can be far from impressive. Google’s new platform has numerous benefits, but state-of-the-art features and constant connectivity seem to come with one key drawback: excessive battery consumption. Here are some helpful tips and tricks to help minimize the excessive use of your battery and hopefully make it through the day without having to connect your charger.

    Turn off GPS when not in use.

    The GPS uses the battery like there’s no tomorrow. Location-aware software is one of Android’s many fortes, but can be a real battery killer. The power control widget is useful for switching the GPS on and off, and you should keep an eye on your notification bar: an icon will appear whenever the GPS is activated.

    Turn off Bluetooth and WiFi When you’re not using them.

    As with GPS, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi will drain more of your battery’s juice when they are on. It’s best to disable these whenever you’re not actually using it. You can use the power control widget on your home screen to enable/disable these features as well.

    Wi-Fi Options

    If you’re close to a reliable Wi-Fi network during the better part of the day, having Wi-Fi always turned on may be favorable from a battery point of view, since the Wi-Fi radio uses less battery than the 3G radio. Also, when Wi-Fi is on, 3G is off. You can make sure Wi-Fi always stays on by going to Settings > Wireless networks > Wi-Fi Settings. Press the Menu button, tap on Advanced, Wi-Fi sleep policy and select the Never option.

    On the other hand, if you’re not close to a strong Wi-Fi signal for extended periods of time, disable Wi-Fi from the home screen widget or from Settings > Wireless networks > Wi-Fi.

    Disable Always-On Mobile Data

    The Always-On Mobile Data option is on by default, and can be disabled from Settings > Wireless & networks > Mobile networks > Enable always-on mobile data. It allows your phone to be connected non-stop, but does it need to be? I have disabled the setting, and I still get push Gmail and even Google Talk seems to perform as usual, as well as the few apps I have that use automatic updates. However, if you have a lot of apps that regularly connect to the Internet, disabling this option may actually be a bad idea, since turning the data connection on and off will require more energy than simply having it on all the time.

    Disable Wireless Location Services

    When your device learns your location via wireless network triangulation, it requires less battery than if it had used the GPS but is usually less precise than GPS so most people will use GPS for their location base needs. Turning this feature off will improve battery life and also prevent the collection of anonymous Google location data in the background. You can turn it off from Settings > Location > Google Location Services.

    Use a Quick Screen Timeout After a certain time of inactivity, your screen is automatically turned off.  The lower the value, the sooner the screen turns off and the less battery you will use.  We recommend between 15 and 30 seconds.  You can alter this option from Settings > Screen & display > Screen timeout.

    Turn Down the Screen Brightness

    Android’s Automatic brightness (Settings > Screen & display > Brightness) setting is recommended. If your phone doesn’t have this option, start at 50% and see if that suits you, the lower you take it the better it will be for your battery life.

    Live Wallpapers

    Live wallpapers are a pretty cool feature, but that extra animation constantly running on the home screen will use up more battery than a standard wallpaper will. Also, if you have one of the Android devices that uses an AMOLED screen; a dark wallpaper will use less juice than a bright one. If you are unsure about your screen type a quick Google search with your phone’s model and the word screen should help determine what your phone has.

    Learn what’s eating up your Battery.

    On the most recent versions of Android, you can check out a built-in feature that tells you how much your apps use the battery. You can then start using battery drainers less often, or simply uninstall them. Go to Settings > about phone > Battery > Battery use and press the items in the list for further info.

    Use of 3rd party apps to manage battery life

    There are numerous apps available on the market to manage and improve your battery life, my favorite of which is called JuiceDefender. It comes in several flavors, a free version, and a couple paid versions. The main attraction of this program for me is that it will turn off your mobile data connection (3G/4G) when your phone is in standby. This alone has a big impact on your battery longevity. The paid versions have a lot of extra features that allow you to tailor a schedule of when to turn certain connections on and off, control your brightness, screen time and more. This allows you to automate a lot of the tips and tricks we’ve highlighted here.

    Depending on how you use your Android device, some of these options may not be for you.  However, utilizing even a few of these will likely have a big impact on how long your phone will last before needing to be charged and allow you to enjoy your smartphone that much more.