Android

10 tips for getting the most life out of your Android battery

If you're looking for ways to optimize your Android Lollipop or Marshmallow battery, these tips will help you squeeze more life from a single charge.

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Image: Jack Wallen (Created with GIMP)

As Android evolves, so too does the battery life. With every iteration of the platform we enjoy longer time between charges. But that doesn't mean there aren't things you can do to get even more out of that battery. With just a bit of work, you can extend it well beyond what you've been experiencing. Best of all, these tips don't require a degree in Android-ology to put them to work.

Let's charge up and see how you can easily extend the life of your Android mobile. I'll be demonstrating this on a device running Android 6.0.1. Some of these tips will be specific to Marshmallow, while some can be applied to older releases.

1: Doze

Doze is a feature, new to Marshmallow, that sends apps into full hibernation when the phone isn't in use. In fact, without Doze, your device can drain your battery 12 to 15 percent overnight. With Doze, that drainage is more like 3 to 5 percent. By default, Doze should be enabled. Unfortunately, it's not quite as easy as tapping a button to disable/enable Doze. You'll need to go to Settings | Battery, tap the Menu button, select Battery Optimization, select All Apps from the dropdown, and then check to make sure the apps say Optimizing Battery Use. If there's an app you know must not be sent into hibernation at night, tap it and select Don't Optimize.

2: Dark themes/settings

This works only if your device has an AMOLED screen. If it does, selecting dark themes and settings will go a long way toward preventing rapid battery drain. You can take this one step further by using a black (or dark) wallpaper. At one point in the Marshmallow development cycle, it was possible to enable a dark theme from within the Developer Settings. This capability was, unfortunately, removed. To get a dark theme now, you'll most likely need to install a third-party launcher. Even then, you won't get the full-on dark theme that accompanied earlier Marshmallow builds. With some home screen launchers, you can at least get some degree of dark theme going on to help save battery life.

3: Adaptive Brightness

In Settings | Display, you should find a feature called Adaptive Brightness. This feature senses the ambient light and adjusts the brightness of your device accordingly. If you disable it (and set your display brightness to a battery-friendly level), you'll enjoy much longer battery life. Your screen is one of the biggest culprits responsible for battery drain.

4: Shorter screen timeout

Speaking of screens, if you set your screen timeout to a shorter period, you may get a bit frustrated at times (due to constantly having to enter your PIN/password/pattern), but you'll save battery life. If you have the timeout set to, say, two minutes, and you use the screen for 30 seconds, your screen is on for 90 seconds of unused time. If you check your screen 20 times a day and look at it for 30 seconds, you've wasted 30 minutes of screen display time. That adds up. Set your screen timeout as low as you can tolerate. Go to Settings | Display, tap Sleep, and select the shortest timeout you can deal with (the shortest available is 15 seconds).

5: Unused features

This tip is especially true for smart features you don't use (such as auto-rotate, gestures, smart scrolling, Ambient display, and NFC). When you need those features, take the time to turn them back on. The same thing holds true with Bluetooth, wireless, etc.

6: Vibrations and haptic feedback

Do you really need to have your device vibrate when you tap a key on the keyboard? Probably not. And it actually does drain your battery. In Settings | Sound & Notification, you'll see an enable/disable switch for Also Vibrate For Calls. Disable that feature. In Marshmallow, haptic feedback has been somewhat hidden. To turn it off, go to Settings | Sound & Notification | Other Sounds and disable Vibrate On Touch.

7: Lockscreen notifications

Some of you may not like this idea, but if you enable lockscreen notifications (and even allow sensitive data to appear), you won't have to unlock your phone every time a new notification appears. You can see what's coming in from the lockscreen and thereby save battery life. It may not save much battery per instance, but considering how often notifications come in and how often we unlock our screen to look into them, it adds up. From Settings | Sound & Notification, tap When device Is Locked and choose Show All Notification Content. Of course, if you're concerned with security, you'll want to stick with Hide Sensitive Notification Content or Don't Show Notifications At All.

8: Do Not Disturb

When Lollipop was introduced, it brought us the Do Not Disturb feature. This enables you to set a scheduled period where notification sounds will not be allowed. If you don't have a pressing need for notifications while you sleep, set your Do Not Disturb schedule during your period of sleep. Along with preserving battery life, this will have the benefit of—as you might expect—allowing you to sleep undisturbed.

9: Widget madness

This tip actually works for nearly every iteration of Android. Widgets are a great tool, but some can do a number on your battery life. As much as you like that weather widget, the stock widget, and the secure shell widget, skip them. They'll drain your battery, and most likely, you don't use them nearly as much as you think.

10: Smarter updates

The last thing you need to do is collect a lot of app updates and then tap Update All. This drawn-out process will drain your battery faster than if you manually check your app updates and update them as they become available. Updating a single app a day won't cause your battery to take nearly the hit it will if you tap Update All and 20 apps are updated. Open up the Google Play Store, swipe right from the left edge, tap My Apps & Games, and then manually update the apps one at a time. If many app updates are available, wait until you are plugged in to tap Update All.

Save, save, save

Don't let your Android battery usage get away from you. Even though the platform has come a long way (and battery usage is far superior to what it once was), you can still gain more life with a little care and work. You do not want to be near the end of your day (or in a desperate situation) only to have your Android device conk out on you. Save as much battery life as you can with these tips and see if your daily Android life extends well in the PM.

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About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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