Software Development

Five tips for saving battery life on an Android phone

You can't really count on a smartphone if it's constantly running out of juice. These simple measures will help prolong your Android's battery life.

Smartphones can save our skins in many ways. But only if they have enough juice to do so. There is nothing worse than being on the go, trying to access a critical email, only to find your battery doesn't have enough power to even bother rendering that precious message. So what do you do when you need to eke out as much of that battery as possible? Here are a few tips that will keep your battery in top form.

This article originally published in TechRepublic's Five Tips blog.

1: Shut off unnecessary services

I have found the GPS does little to get me through the day. So unless I am using an application that absolutely must have the GPS turned on (and it's an app that I must use), I leave that feature turned off. It can drain the battery the fastest, so when you need battery life over location discovery, turn it off and leave it off. Turn off WiFi as well. It's another top offender. Although many might argue against this, I find the speed gain of WiFi is not significant enough to offset the battery drain.

2: Upgrade your firmware

You would be surprised how much better 2.x is at retaining battery life than is 1.x. It was a significant upgrade on many levels, but none was more significant than battery life. One of the critical issues that was fixed was the ever-present messages application not going to sleep. Now the tool goes to sleep, thus saving your battery from an untimely demise.

3: Turn off notifications

Believe it or not, notifications can seriously drain your juice. I like to leave on notifications for text messages but no more. Turn off both sound notifications and LED notifications to save as much battery as you can. Just remember that you will have to manually check your email to see if anything is new since the last time you checked. Common sense, but you never know.

4: Turn off keyboard feedback

This one may not seem so obvious to most users, but that vibration does use power. As often as you use your keyboard, you're adding to the decline of your battery power click by click by click. This actually serves two purposes. With the feedback turned off, your keyboard will also respond much faster than it would with it on.

5: Add a task killer.

I like Advanced Task Killer Free. This tool allows you to kill any task that is currently running. I actually place a shortcut to this tool on my desktop so that a single press will kill any unnecessary tasks that are slowly chomping away at my battery life. I will randomly hit this during the day (especially when I feel my phone heating up) to kill those background apps. I have yet to experience an app like this taking the phone down with it, so you can generally feel pretty safe using such tools. And the battery life they will save is certainly worth the price of admission (even the non-free apps).

Simple steps

How quick was that? If your Android phone suffers from a short battery life like mine does, following these rules should make your battery last quite a bit longer than it does with the stock setup. It's not perfect, and you won't find yourself with multi-day use from a single charge, but you will get far more life from that battery than you were getting.

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 getjackd.net.

9 comments
option12
option12

1. turn display brightness down as far as possible! I turn to 0% inside,30% in a car or near a window and set it to the appropriate level for good visibility outside. But let's not kid ourselves, I rarely have to look at my phone for long outside. 2. turn wi-fi on! but only when it's available and cell signal is not great. When the cell signal is bad, using data over it eats up more power than using wifi 3. task managers are just fooling yourself after 2.2. I use one to kill a few services that start at boot, but then it gets turned off too. I use an app called toggle settings, and it works great. I have used it for almost 2 years now.

JenniferJJ
JenniferJJ

Interesting tips, thanks... Another common tip is to use Black Google Mobile at http://bGoog.com! It's a battery saving search that looks better, loads faster and uses less bandwidth which saves money.

simmo004
simmo004

Thanks for the tips--very simple and effective. Building on tip #1, I use an app called Tasker to automate GPS and WiFi turning on and off when I start certain apps (FourSquare, Google Maps, etc). It also automatically takes my phone in and out of Airplane mode while I'm asleep--another big help to battery life. It's about $6 in the Marketplace--well worth it.

joetron2030
joetron2030

Interesting. I found I got increased battery life with wifi turned on. I went from having to plug my DROID Incredible in at least once a day to going two days or more between charges.

sonicsteve
sonicsteve

Good article, In order to use the upgrade firmware tip though manufacturers need to support their phones. I've been wanting to upgrade my Samsung Galaxy GT-I7500L from Bell Mobility for a while now. Samsung doesn't support the phone at all anymore (will never buy another samsung android device ever) Bell just plays ostrich and pretends there isn't a problem. I'm dieing to move on from Android 1.5, but there is no proper way to do it yet and have all phone functions working when your done.

sserwe
sserwe

Yea... I don't know how you could possibly get more battery life with an extra hardware component powered up... When WIFI is enabled it is continually scanning for hotspots which eats battery. Its not the worst thing for battery life (compared to GPS and 4G) but there is no way you would have better battery life with it enabled. It's possible you just used the device less on days you had WIFI enabled.

jred
jred

Have you looked into rooting your phone? That's what I ended up doing to my Hero when the carrier was dragging feet to push out upgrades.

dstraitiff
dstraitiff

I also get better battery life with wifi turned on at work. I work in a metal building where the cell signal is weak at best. I have my EVO configured to get my work e-mail (Exchange). I discovered by accident that if I turn on wifi while at work it does not drain the battery nearly as bad. I assume it is due to the weak/lack of cell signal in the building. I turn it off when I leave work.

sserwe
sserwe

Yea I rooted my EVO (worst battery life ever with stock ROM) and put Cyanogenmod 6.1 on it with an updated kernel. Cyanogenmod is basically a slimmed version of Android and completely rids the phone of all the bloatware carriers put on phones these days. My battery life improved 10 fold after doing this. After moderate use throughout the day, I still have 20% or more left on my battery if I use it without charging from 8 AM to midnight or so. I have had days where the battery was only at 50% after that long of a day (lighter use obviously). I also keep notifications on for google voice and gmail and keep haptic feedback enabled (I like it).

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