The Droid Bionic is quite possibly the single most powerful smartphone money can buy, but (and there's always a but) with that power comes a price. Battery life. Out of the box, the Bionic battery life can compete with most any Android phone, although the more power you use from this device, the more battery you drain. So, it's a good thing the Bionic comes with the tools necessary -- without having to install a third-party app or jump through hoops -- to manage both battery life and data.
The toolThe tool to use is the Battery & data manager. Simply tap Menu | Settings | Battery & data manager. When the tool opens (see Figure A), there are actually three different settings that can be configured:
- Battery mode
- Data Saver
- Data delivery
Don't be alarmed, that 20% battery life was the phone in mid-charge after the unboxing.
Let's take a look at each of these settings.
Battery modeThis is an incredible step forward for Android and a must-use for some Bionic users. With Battery mode (see Figure B), you can choose from three pre-configured power-saving schemes or even customize your own. Figure B
By default, Battery mode is set to Nighttime saver.
The different modes are:
- Maximum battery saver: In this mode, most all push data is off, so any app that requires data updates must be updated manually.
- Nighttime saver: Push data and other services that are not needed during inactivity are turned off at night.
- Performance mode: All data flows freely.
- There is also a Custom battery saver mode that allows you to make any/all adjustments you want to help save battery life.
It has been my experience that the Nighttime saver mode does a fine job of preserving battery life. However, if there are services you know you don't use (such as GPS), you might want to create a custom profile.
Once you've selected the profile from the list, you're done!
Data SaverThe Data Saver (see Figure C) will also go a long way to help with your battery life. What this feature does is dictate how different apps behave to conserve data. For example, with this feature on, the Android Market (and other apps) will wait to download data until the device is connected to Wi-Fi (since Wi-Fi doesn't drain the battery nearly as much as 3G or 4G). Figure C
The Data Saver is either enabled or disabled. There is no customization.
Data deliveryIt's also possible to set how data is delivered to your device. From this setting (see Figure D), you can enable/disable the following:
- Background data: This is necessary if you want push data. If it's turned off, you must manually update data.
- Data roaming: This allows you to control how your device handles data when it's in roaming mode.
- Data enabled: Don't need data? Disable this setting. If you're really only concerned about making phone calls and conserving as much battery as possible, this will do the trick.
Just remember, if you disable data, your phone apps will not function as expected.In the Data delivery section, there's a sub-section called Social applications. If you tap that, you can set how social network applications are allowed to sync data (see Figure E). Figure E
If you're a big fan of social networking, you might take heed of this setting.
With this setting, you can configure all social networking apps for the following:
- Sync over Wi-Fi only
- Sync frequency
Remember what I said earlier about Wi-Fi not using as much battery as 3G or 4G? If you're always around Wi-Fi, I highly recommend setting your Bionic so that social networking applications only sync this way, because it will conserve battery life and the syncing will be faster (in most cases). On the same token, you can decide the frequency for which those apps sync. By default, they're set to Push. If you don't need that social fix every sixty seconds, you might consider upping the time between syncs for all social networking applications.
As you can see, the Bionic brings to Android some serious control over battery usage. With this smartphone, more than any other, this is a necessity. Without these options, your Bionic might be lucky to last half a day. With them, you'll get a much longer battery life from your mobile device.
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.