Android: 5 Tips That Actually Save Battery Life

Android: 5 Tips That Actually Save Battery Life

If anyone were to Google search about how to save precious minutes on the battery life on their Android phone, they'd come across at least a 100 articles, blogs, etc that believe that they have the authority and knowledge to say, for sure, what kills battery. The problem is that these guides are often conflicting and, like Britain's Got Talent, leaves us wondering about how they could do this to us. Also, unlike Britain's Got Talent, it leaves us wanting to know more.

Well, fellow Mobotniks, this is where the contradictions end. Below are five tips that have been proven to work in decreasing the amount of battery life required to make it through an average day and help Android phones all over the place make it from sunrise to sunset without needing that midday charge. If only there were energy drinks for Android phones without that 2pm feeling.

The object of this is simple: to provide all the details needed to prove why these are the methods everyone should follow in order to save more battery life. No more of those articles where some stuff works, others do not and the author doesn't even have the courtesy to explain how or why it helps or hurts. So without further adieu, here are five tips that actually save your battery life.

Change the background on your display to black or red and lower your brightness settings.

If you're an avid reader, it is recommended you check out this recent study done by owners of the Samsung Nexus S. You can find it here. For those who aren't big fans of reading spreadsheets, it is an in depth chart that shows what uses the most battery and focuses mainly on parts already on the device, such as screen and processor. If you were to look under screen colors, you'll see that black and red colored displays use the least amount of battery life. Therefore, the beginning of your journey begins at finding a nice black or red background to use as it really will save your battery life. Since black and red are very dark colors, the units in the screen don't have to spend so much energy creating the color and, therefore, use less energy.

Additionally, producing light costs energy. Producing bright light costs more energy and producing less light costs less energy. Therefore, lowering the brightness of your screen will invariably shave off some energy costs and keep your Android phone running longer. Done separately, these two might not do much, but together there should be a noticeable difference.

Lessen the frequency of updates of apps that run in the background

This includes things like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, your weather application, MySpace (for those still in denial) and all the accounts attached to your email application. These use data and battery life constantly. Do you really need Facebook updated every hour? Most users end up updating it manually when they check theirs. The same goes with Twitter and Foursquare.

These apps always update when you open them and usually if you're checking them, you pretty much have to open them. So you can change the update times to their lowest settings, which is typically several hours or a day. Another option would be to turn them completely off and only update them when you open the application. For weather, maybe take it back from 15-30 minutes to an hour. That's exactly half the effort it'll be using over the course of the day and, as with your social networking, you can always open the app and manually update if you need to know right then.

The email is a little tricky because some people require their emails immediately. The answer to this is simply a little effort. During the down times of the day, turn the update schedule to a lower time frame or off and only leave it on its max settings during times of the day you expect the most email. Personally, I go 15 minutes during peak hours and 4 hours during down time. As with all the others, you can also manually update if you need to check during down time.

This is probably going to be your top battery saver. We have smartphones and smartphones drink data like they need it to live. If you limit how much data the device uses by controlling the applications which use data, then your phone is going from updating all these applications constantly to every so often. Going from 5-10 applications using data every hour to 5-10 applications using data every 4 hours is approximately 75% less data usage. Through one day this will mean that the phone works 75% less often. Even more so if you go the manual route. That translates to better battery life.

Turn off any services you aren't actively using.

Unless you're using navigation or signing into some place on Foursquare, there aren't a lot of good reasons to leave your GPS turned on. To save yourself some trouble, turn off your GPS when you aren't using it. It takes a lot of juice to digitally say hello to the satellites in space and that's juice you could be saving. So, when you're finished using your GPS services, turn them off. If you use geolocation in your weather service, you could switch it to just the city that you're currently residing, thus lowering your overall GPS usage.

This goes for Bluetooth as well. Believe it or not, some people walk around all day with their Bluetooth on and wonder why they can't get six hours out of their battery. If you're not using those Bluetooth Speakers or that Bluetooth Headset, then turn off your Bluetooth service. If energy were money and your battery were a bank, then that would be money in the bank.

Use WiFi whenever possible.

Connecting to Mobile Data, be it 3g or 4g, is rough on a battery. Having to negotiate cell towers all day long just sounds tiring, so it isn't hard to imagine why it would tire your Android phone so much. The process of searching for a tower, gaining access to the tower, then making sure it stays connected to the tower so it can bring in data from the tower sounds like the worst job in history right behind the guy who cleans the toilets in that shady pub on the wrong side of town. Not to mention that you're likely competing with hundreds of other users for bandwidth on that tower. Competing costs energy.

The solution is whenever you're at home, at the office, at a friend's house or anywhere that has WiFi access, use that WiFi access. It is much less work for the phone to negotiate a WiFi router since there is much less traffic and a much stronger signal than a cell tower. Imagine trying to use data on a tower that hundreds, even thousands of people are connected to as opposed to a WiFi router which has, at most, a couple of computers and a gaming console on it. It just makes sense to go with the connection with fewer devices battling for bandwidth. So, unless you have to, stay on a WiFi connection. You'll see your battery improve a lot.

Android: 5 Tips That Actually Save Battery Life

Oh, yes, you must also be sure to not break the battery. That will certainly cause a loss of battery function.

In conjunction with the prior step, when you're in an area where you cannot use WiFi, turn it off. It'll continuously search for signal and it doesn't take an advanced physics degree to tell you that'll drain your battery.

Uninstall applications you no longer use.

This can be a real killer if you let things get out of control, but if you're not using an app anymore, trash it. Apps can randomly open and remain open for a long time if gone unchecked. As an example, if you use Amazon Market, the alternative to the Android Market, it will open itself randomly to search for updates or to see if you have an app that needs updated and you'll never even know about it. Virtually all apps do that to some degree so to keep your phone moving light and staying alive, uninstall the ones you don't use anymore. There's no way anyone can have 250+ applications and actually use them all regularly, so do yourself, your memory and your battery a favor and get rid of them. It's not like they're not in the Android Market whenever you need them again, right? These apps use valuable RAM and processor power when they open and run randomly, and that's battery life down the drain.

There are other things that you can do, but they don't always work. Live wallpapers are a known battery drainer, but they look so cool and how much time do you actually spend staring at your home screen? A lot of other blogs will have you do things that border on the absurd, such as kill off your mobile data and WiFi when you're not using it. But let's face reality, it's a smartphone, 50% of its function requires mobile data or WiFi. That's like telling someone that they can save their energy if they turn off one lung and a kidney when they're not using it.

However, with the tips outlined above, users should see a definitely increase in battery function. Personally, using these tips, I've gone from having six hours a day to, well, this:

Android: 5 Tips That Actually Save Battery Life

On pace for 24 hours before needing a charge. Like a boss.

So remember, Mobotniks, there are ways to save your battery life without reducing your phone to an expensive paper weight and destroying your productivity. You just gotta be a little smart about it.

Read more about: Android

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15 comments

emmajk42 / MOD  Feb. 16, 2012 at 20:25

Thanks Joe... forwarded this over to my OH who uses a HTC Desire HD, and his battery life seems dire.

Treab  Feb. 16, 2012 at 20:33

hmmm joe aren't you american?

therefore wth are you doing watching Britain's got no talent.

emmajk42 / MOD  Feb. 16, 2012 at 20:37

hmmm joe aren't you american?

therefore wth are you doing watching Britain's got no talent.


I think it's a fairly well-known show since SuBo went global ? :)

JoeHindy  Feb. 16, 2012 at 20:38

Thanks Joe... forwarded this over to my OH who uses a HTC Desire HD, and his battery life seems dire.

I once got 36 hours of battery life on the HTC Evo 3D using a couple of battery tweaks and those methods. It was pretty awesome.

JoeHindy  Feb. 16, 2012 at 20:38

hmmm joe aren't you american?

therefore wth are you doing watching Britain's got no talent.


I think it's a fairly well-known show since SuBo went global ? :)


She's ugly, like an American, of course we embraced her :)

I also take a morbid amusement in watching Simon make weak willed people cry. Just cuz he switched which country he works in doesn't mean I'm gonna stop watching him do it!

Treab  Feb. 16, 2012 at 20:53

I would of thought you septics would only get america has talent.

alanweird  Feb. 17, 2012 at 00:16

I always swear to never use these sites, but I'll be nice.

Biggest battery saver of them all...

Switch to gprs only in mobile networks in network settings. Changing to a 2g mode means that the phone isn't constantly seeking a 3g connection. Having data off completely bar wifi usually can net you 48 hrs of battery on a samsung phone.

The crap layered on top of android also affects things in a big way... again... this article never mentioned that. HTC phones run a horrible layout known as sense, which is the worst drain ever seen. Use a more barebones, professional custom firmware instead, like cyanogenmod, as no company out there offers decent battery life out of the box. They're just interested in cramming adware on.

Number 3... video wallpaper. Most just throw this on without realising what a hog it can be. Android 4.0's new video wallpapers seem rather battery friendly though.

Wow mobot. Do these guys get paid for their article submissions? Because I just rewrote the majority of the it with much more productive measures. Even arguing that this article is aimed at the common joe doesn't hold water, because most of this pertains only to the Galaxy Nexus, which nobody reading this site will have!

omgwtfbbq  Feb. 17, 2012 at 00:51

You should mention that the first tip (setting a dark background) works only on AMOLED screens such as those on most high end Samsung phones.
An AMOLED screen uses organic material to emit light for each pixel, meaning a black pixel uses no energy to display as there is nothing there. An LCD screen, on the other hand, uses a backlight and then "blocks" particular light from reaching the user. A black and a white pixel take the same amount of energy to display as the same amount of light is still being emmitted, some is just being blocked.

JanSt / MOD  Feb. 17, 2012 at 07:06

The black/dark wallpaper 'trick' only applies to AMOLED screens.

The other best practice is to disable 3G. Only enable it when you're browsing heavy websites, to stream music or download large email attachments.

That alone can double your battery life. Twitter apps and such can work okay with gprs only.

Lastly, the reason BlackBerry phones do so well in terms of battery life is RIM's data compression. On non-BB phones the closest you get to emulate that is to use Opera Mini for web browsing. Opera Mini cuts back on 60-90% of data traffic. It doesn't render Flash and gif animations etc...so only use the fancy Flah browsers when you WANT Flash content. Otherwise, use OM and you'll be happy with the new battery life and the savings of your data allowance.

JanSt / MOD  Feb. 17, 2012 at 07:08

Good thread though :)

JanSt / MOD  Feb. 17, 2012 at 08:46

alanweird, omgwtfbbq,

sorry, your posts were queued for moderation - I hadn't noticed.
I didn't mean to duplicate your points.
You're both right, of course :D

Admin  Feb. 17, 2012 at 11:53

Yep also Opera Mini will get you around any content blocking your mobile operator may do. Just sayin...

alanweird - You want to write for mobot? We're always looking for more solid writers! Serious :)

JoeHindy  Feb. 17, 2012 at 12:16

I always swear to never use these sites, but I'll be nice.

Biggest battery saver of them all...

Switch to gprs only in mobile networks in network settings. Changing to a 2g mode means that the phone isn't constantly seeking a 3g connection. Having data off completely bar wifi usually can net you 48 hrs of battery on a samsung phone.

The crap layered on top of android also affects things in a big way... again... this article never mentioned that. HTC phones run a horrible layout known as sense, which is the worst drain ever seen. Use a more barebones, professional custom firmware instead, like cyanogenmod, as no company out there offers decent battery life out of the box. They're just interested in cramming adware on.

Number 3... video wallpaper. Most just throw this on without realising what a hog it can be. Android 4.0's new video wallpapers seem rather battery friendly though.

Wow mobot. Do these guys get paid for their article submissions? Because I just rewrote the majority of the it with much more productive measures. Even arguing that this article is aimed at the common joe doesn't hold water, because most of this pertains only to the Galaxy Nexus, which nobody reading this site will have!


Whew, okay then.
1. HTC Sense only applies to people who have HTC phones. CyanogenMod can only be installed by people who are rooted. The number of people who actually root their phones is a very small percentage. So, in reality, your suggestion doesn't affect nearly as many people as you think it does. Mine, on the other hand, doesn't take phone specific OS into consideration, so my tips are universal. Rooted and non-rooted users of all devices can save battery life with at least part of each tip I gave. In yours, I must own an HTC phone, root it and flash a firmware I might not even like. Everyone buys Sense for the flip clock, duh. Which brings me to:

2. Samsung wildly outsells HTC all over the world. People reading this article are more likely to have a Galaxy S2, a Note, a Nexus, a Wave, etc than any other type of smartphone so the samoled tricks affects far more people than flashing CM7 or CM9 to get rid of HTC Sense. I added turning the brightness down because I didn't wanna leave the qHD displays behind. Those first two tips apply to everyone with a smartphone to some degree (be it tip part 1, part 2 or both), yours affects, as mentioned, a very small number of people.

3. My attempt at this tutorial was bring tips to the table that doesn't affect performance. WiFi connections are almost never worse than 3g connections, so during the course of the day people who follow them are never left in the dark. backing down to 2g is absurd. You pay for your data, you should be using it. If you're going for sheer battery life, just turn data off entirely. You'll never load a website but the phone will live for a week.

At least I had the decency to test my findings (first on an HTC Evo 4g and second on a Samsung Galaxy S2 Epic Touch) and provide a screenshot of my phone to show the results of my work. :)

I am now currently awaiting your screenshot, but I'm not holding my breathe :)

alanweird  Mar. 8, 2012 at 12:24

Yep also Opera Mini will get you around any content blocking your mobile operator may do. Just sayin...

alanweird - You want to write for mobot? We're always looking for more solid writers! Serious :)


I'd love to submit an article. I have one that's ready to go at the moment. if I clean it up you'd be welcome to publish it. It's essentially in regards to yesterdays Ipad 3 announcement.

JanSt / MOD  Mar. 8, 2012 at 12:28

alanweird,
Scroll to the bottom =>> "contact us" :)

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