How to Increase your Android Smartphone’s battery-life
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If your daily driver is Android (especially with 4.0 and above), I am pretty sure the battery life on your device is driving you nuts. Below are few tips that have been effective in increasing the battery life on my Samsung Galaxy Note N7000. Some of these tips could help you too. To make things easy for you as a reader, I have split this article into two sections: Basic User and Advanced User
1. Clean-up your home screen:
Do you really require all those fancy widgets on your home screen? Widgets run in the background and continue to update their data based on the frequency that you have configured the app to. You can reduce this rate by going into the settings of some of these widgets (Ex. Weather widget). Keep minimum required widgets only.
Live wallpapers are good to look at but are big battery eaters. Use static wallpapers and preferably darker or black ones on OLED screens where each pixel is self-powered.
If you are using a Samsung or HTC device, you could replace your default launcher (Samsung’s TouchWiz & HTC’s Sense) with Nova Launcher or Apex Launcher. Both these launchers have a free version as well as a paid version available in Google’s Play Store. My personal favourite is Nova Launcher. Samsung and HTC launchers are resource heavy and often tend to lag your smartphone with the wide variety of features they provide. However, replacing your launcher with either Nova or Apex would mean you will lose some of the features directly provided by your smartphone’s manufacturer.
2. Reduce refresh intervals / turn off unwanted syncing:
The Facebook app is by default set to refresh every one hour. Not every one of us is hooked onto Facebook and some of us receive up to a maximum of 20 notifications per day. Reducing the refresh interval to “4 hours” or “Never” will help converse battery. Push notifications are still received based on your settings and you can manually refresh your timeline by opening the Facebook app.
Avoid sync of Facebook contacts with your phone’s in-built contact manager. Not doing so would lead to frequent connections made with Facebook to update your contacts picture and status messages. Keeping your phone’s data connection active for most of the time would be a major factor to battery drain.
Check all your apps sync settings by going into Settings -> Accounts and clicking on each of the accounts to see their configurations.
3. Keep your battery at the right temperature:
Your battery operates best at room temperature. I have observed a general temperature range of 26°C to 28°C with my phone sitting in idle. My advice would be not to allow the temperature to rise beyond 40°C. Avoid using your phone while charging as the battery generally gets hotter.
Also, avoid playing games or using CPU intense apps on your phone while plugged-in. This reduces the rate of charging. Though no harm will occur to you battery, the time taken to charge will increase by a large extent. My readings on extended battery life have often pointed out to stick to steady & fast charging for longer battery life. Use original chargers that were provided to you out of the box.
Battery Widget by Elvison is a good app that helps me monitor my battery conditions like Charge Percentage, Temperature and Voltage. You can also utilize the apps alert feature to warn you of critically high temperatures. I would suggest avoiding such an alerting system in place due to another battery hogging factor called wakelocks (explained under Advanced Users section).
4. Buy paid apps from the developer / Use alternate apps without ad:
Apps with ad support tend to drain more battery by using your mobile’s data connection to retrieve new advertisements to be displayed on your phone. Stick to apps that do not use adware or buy the paid versions which have Google’s ad framework removed inside them. You can use tools like TrustGo Ad Detector to identify apps with advertisements. I would suggest you to uninstall this app after scanning all your apps to avoid an additional service from running in the background at all times.
5. General Tips:
- Switch off Wifi / GPS / Bluetooth when not in use.
- Power saving mode can be effective when running low on battery juice. This mode enables the CPU to run at lower frequencies (MHz), turn off haptic feedback, reduce screen brightness leading to less battery consumption.
- Enable auto brightness setting for your display to automatically reduce the brightness in low-light areas. However, it would be better to manually set the brightness to the lowest level of comfort for your reading if you utilize your phone in low-light most of the time. This prevents utilization of your phone’s light sensor to detect your environment’s light levels.
- Switch to GSM only mode when using 2G and GSM / WCDMA (auto mode) when using 3G. In GSM mode, your phone will not supply power to the 3G chip. You can go here by going into Settings -> Mobile Networks -> Network Mode and selecting the desired mode.
Wake locks are a major cause for battery drain when you drill deep down into the technical aspect of android’s application and event handling. Not to say that wakelocks are bad. They are essential for android to function properly. However, bad programming can lead to unwanted wakelocks arising and draining your phone’s battery quite effectively. With these wakelocks present, your phone is not able to go in to deep sleep mode. This mode saves the maximum amount of power for your battery.
So, what is a wakelock?
Apps use wakelocks to keep the CPU running. Android has two types of wakelocks: Kernel and Partial wakelocks; with each category having different number of wakelocks for different hardware components to be accessed by your applications. For example, when you listen to music on your favourite media player, your media player app holds a partial wakelock on the audio output (usually the audioOout_2) and releases it when your application is stopped. Poorly programmed apps or apps running in the background can cause unnecessary partial wakelocks on your phone.
Viber is a well-known application to cause the audioOut_2 partial wakelock for a large count. If you have Viber installed on your android device, uninstall it and reboot your phone. Monitor your battery drain and you should notice a small improvement in your phone’s battery life.
How to find wakelocks created on your phone?
BetterBatteryStats is an amazing app to monitor your device’s wakelocks. You can view the kernel as well as partial wakelocks from Boot, Unplugged and Charged references. You can also set up a custom reference to see the list of wakelocks caused within a given time frame. Some users find this app to be difficult to read and a more user-friendly app is Wakelock Detector. Download and give each app a try to find out which one would work for you.
Below are few wakelock details I have come across and the probable causes and solutions to reduce their occurrences.
Note: It is very difficult to pin-point the exact cause of a wakelock as multiple applications could create the wakelock.
Probable cause: USB connection lock
Solution: 1. Restart device to release lock
2. Turn on your phone.
3. Go to the home screen
4. Un-plug device from the charge
Cause: GSM / WCDMA dual mode (3G connections)
Probable cause: N/A
Solution: Switch to GSM for 2G network.
Use Wifi (whenever available) in weak signal locations
Cause: High network usage
Probable Cause: Fast dormancy enabled for a carrier that does not support it
Solution: Using code *#9900#, you can disable fast dormancy option
Cause: Sum of all power related wakelocks
Probable cause: N/A
Cause: Any app that uses the device’s audio output
Probable cause: N/A
Solution: Close / Stop app using audio output
Uninstall conflicting apps