Save battery and eke out a bit more speed on your Android tablet

Jack Wallen provides some tips and tricks for getting the most out of your Android tablet battery and CPU.

One of the things that people most appreciate about Androids tablet is their flexibility. But Android's flexibility comes with a price — battery life and power. Although the tablet hardware is becoming increasingly powerful, the Android OS is demanding. With that in mind, it's often a good idea to optimize your tablet for best possible battery life and/or performance (they are not mutually exclusive). So, let's examine a few quick tips and tricks for getting the most out of your battery and your tablet's CPU.

First, let's take some steps to help get more battery life from that tablet.


Network usage can really suck down the battery. The thing is, if it isn't set up properly, that network connection will continue on, even when the tablet is sleeping. That's right — wireless is still on when you're not using the tablet. On the positive side, the wireless is immediately available when the tablet comes out of sleep mode. I tend to prefer that model. But for those that need more battery life from their tablets, you'll want to change that behavior. Android tablets have a little built-in feature that makes this easy. Here's how you do it.

  1. Fire up your tablet
  2. Open up the Settings tool
  3. Tap Wireless and networks
  4. Tap Wi-Fi settings (Figure A)
  5. Tap Wi-Fi sleep policy
Figure A

Here you see the Wi-Fi settings on a Verizon-branded Samsung Galaxy Tab.

When you tap on the Wi-Fi sleep policy, three options will present themselves:

  • When screen turns off
  • Never when plugged in
  • Never

Obviously, to save more battery, you want to select the first option. For the most convenience, select the third option, but just know that your battery will drain faster.

Battery usage

There's a nice little tool, tucked inside Android, that will let you see what's using your battery. Tap on Settings | Applications | Battery use to reveal what applications are consuming the most battery. Figure B shows the battery in my Verizon-branded Samsung Galaxy Tab is being primarily consumed by the screen. Figure B

In battery use, we see a dramatic drop from the top spot to the second spot.

Now that we know it's the screen causing the problem, we can take action on that and dim the screen so it consumes less battery.

Gain some speed

We all want more speed. Always. The faster the better. The Android tablet — for the most part — has plenty of speed to offer. For those that want to eke out a little more, I have a couple of tricks up my sleeve.

The first of these tricks is to disable some of the fancy animations on the screen. Yes, they are nice, but they do consume processor cycles. In order to disable some of these animations, do the following:

  1. First, make sure you aren't using any live wallpaper
  2. Go to Settings
  3. Tap Screen | Animation
  4. In the resulting window (Figure C), tap No animations
Figure C

The difference in appearance might seem subtle, but the speed increase will be noticeable.

Reduce icons and widgets

Believe it or not, all of those icons and widgets do consume processor cycles. This is especially true if you're using widgets that sync with social services, email accounts, or calendars. I tend to keep a very minimal screen on my personal tablet to ensure the speediest performance. Icons aren't as bad as widgets at consuming cycles,  but having a home screen filled with them is never a good idea. Pare those icons down to only the apps you frequently use. Starting all other apps is just a couple of extra taps away.

Use a cache cleaner

There are plenty of tools available on Google Play that will wipe clean your cache (such as Easy Cache Cleaner). These tools clean up left over application cache files that can consume precious storage and, in some cases, RAM. It's not necessary to do this daily, but you should see a noticeable increase in performance when you do clean up the cache.

Every cache cleaner works differently, but their purpose is simple — scan your entire device for cache files and allow you to select which ones to delete (Figure D). Figure D

Here you see the results of an Easy Cache Cleaner scan.

Obviously, not all tablets are created equally. Some tablets are simply more powerful than others. And, as you might expect, some users demand more performance than others. Although you won't be super-charging your tablet into uncharted speeds, but you can refresh an aging tablet or gain just enough speed to make a difference. And with the tips offered for battery life, you should certainly see a noticeable difference in the span of your daily battery life.


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

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