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How to get the most battery life from your Android device

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December 31, 2013

Here's some helpful tips for getting the most battery life from your Android device betwee...

Here's some helpful tips for getting the most battery life from your Android device between charging

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If your Android device is powered on all of the time, you may well find that you run out of juice before the end of the day. Though batteries in such devices are getting more powerful, so are the features and apps that run on them. Since some of these features aren't needed all the time, they can be turned off until you need them. Here's a look at how to get more up time out of your battery by changing basic settings manually, and a look at a couple of battery saving apps.

Note: For this article I'm using a Nexus 7 which is running a stock version of Android KitKat 4.4.2, getting to the settings mentioned might vary depending on the device you're using.

Kill battery wasting apps

Android has a built-in battery monitor

Android provides a built-in battery feature that allows you to monitor which apps are running and monitor how much juice they're using. To get there, go to Settings > Battery. This will display how much battery usage individual apps and services are taking. Touch one of the apps listed for more details and you'll have the option to adjust settings or turn them off completely. Use this feature judiciously because if you kill too many processes, your device may become unstable. In fact, you might want to take this time to uninstall battery hogging apps that you no longer use.

Lower brightness, and manage other display settings

Turning the brightness down on your display is important if you're using it a lot throughout the day. To get to it, go to Settings > Display > Brightness. Though you might enjoy a brighter screen while doing important work or playing a game, it sucks the battery power fast. You can turn it down to a lower level, but not to the point where it creates eyestrain. Unless you have a charger handy, I recommend making sure brightness is turned down when watching a movie, too.

Turning down display brightness is an easy way to decrease battery use

Under the same Display section you have other features you can manage. For example, use a static wallpaper. The live wallpapers that run in the background are continuously using the battery all day. Also, consider adjusting the amount of time of inactivity before the device goes to sleep. Too low, such as 15 seconds, can be quite annoying, but try to reach a happy medium that allows you to save juice and work efficiently.

Tweak display settings and features to improve battery life

Disable Bluetooth and Wi-Fi

Turning off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when you're not using them can save a substantial amount o...

If you're not using a device's wireless technology, definitely disable Bluetooth and/or Wi-Fi as both features suck a lot of power. Go to Settings > Wireless & Networks and turn Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on or off as you need it. If you go into advanced Wi-Fi settings you can choose to keep Wi-Fi off during sleep only when it's plugged in, which a perfect setting before you go to bed. Also in those settings, make sure Wi-Fi optimization is ticked. This will minimize battery use when Wi-Fi is enabled.

Disable location-based services

More and more apps need to access your current location via GPS to give you data that's relevant to where you are. This can be awesome when you need it, but remember the feature can use up a lot of battery. If you're not using location-based apps, disable them. To do so, go to Settings > Location and turn the location requests off. When you need to use an app that needs GPS, it will prompt you to turn it on.

Disable Location-based services to save battery power on your Android device.

Use quality battery-saving apps

If you don't want to manually go through and make changes to settings throughout the day, there are some quality free apps in Google Play that can help you out. There are a lot of them in fact. We found the following to be very useful.

Battery Doctor is one of the most popular battery-saving Android apps. The really nice thing about this app is it's designed to speed up your device, and features a built-in task killer to get rid of unneeded background apps using power. It will also get rid of so-called "bloatware" that comes from your carrier or from the device's manufacturer.

It's free, easy to use, and after a one time configuration, it's a basic set it and forget it affair. After installation, tap to diagnose your device. After a few seconds it gives you suggestions on features, services, and apps that can be turned off or adjusted to be more efficient.

Battery Doctor is a free app that scans your system and give you a one-button solution to ...

If you're a hardcore geek, and want to micromanage several aspects of what's using the battery, check out Battery Widget Reborn. Though there is a free version, it's ad supported. But you can go pro for only US$1.29, which is a small investment for a well designed and feature heavy app.

In addition to providing a notification icon and some useful widgets, it also has a DashClock extension that allows you to activate your phone's camera flash to be used as a flashlight. Of course you'll need to already have the DashClock Widget installed, but the two work nicely with each other. The app also features power saving options that kick in during the night, which place your device in airplane mode automatically. It provides essentially everything you would want to know about the battery, including its temperature, and gives you several ways to monitor the data and adjust settings.

Battery Widget Reborn has a lot of settings and features for users who want more control o...

Summing Up

Getting the most out of your Android device's battery during the day is important while you're constantly on the go. Start with the first few suggestions. Just lowering brightness and disabling Bluetooth or Wi-Fi when not needed can be a big help. If you're using a live wallpaper, you'll definitely want to disable it and use a static one. I noticed battery life was cut in half on my Nexus 7 when I installed a fish tank live wallpaper. Yes, they're definitely cool, but also hardcore battery hogs.

If you're not someone who wants to manually turn settings on and off, try out Battery Doctor, because it's free and easy to use. For more control, you'll want to check out the Battery Widget Reborn. If those don't suit, there are plenty of other battery saving apps available in the Google Play Store.

About the Author
Brian Burgess Brian Burgess resides in Minnesota. A technology enthusiast his entire life, he worked in IT for 10 years before pursuing his passion for writing. In addition to contributing to Gizmag, he’s the Editor in Chief at groovyPost.com and has written for other notable tech sites Byte, InformationWeek, and How-To Geek. Away from the keyboard, you're likely to find him listening to heavy metal, playing guitar, or watching Star Trek.   All articles by Brian Burgess
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6 Comments

I have the new Nexus 7 (2013), and only once have I had to plug it in during the day, instead of charging just at night. I was sick in bed and streamed movies all day. Fortunately when I did need to recharge, the cord was just barely long enough to use and charge. My only complaint about my nexus 7 is that the charging cord could be about a foot longer. Otherwise, it's been absolutely everything I wanted in a pad, and it's never more than a foot away from me throughout my day.

Chizzy
31st December, 2013 @ 10:03 am PST

What if the hog is Android System, there's pretty much nothing that can be done without entirely wiping data and have the android be used as a traditional phone only.

Mario Marcucci
31st December, 2013 @ 02:26 pm PST

There seems to be a big problem with the Battery Doctor - you need Root access to do anything useful. And I've been unable to find any way to successfully root Jelly Bean 4.1.2

Chris Rakoczy
3rd January, 2014 @ 06:45 am PST

Depending on your phone you can get a good extended battery for it, I use zerolemons 9300mah battery for my note 2, I'm waiting for their 10,000mah battery for the note 3 before I upgrade. I only charge it once every 5-7 days. And yes that's with the screen turned up, gps turned on, and wifi on as well. I usually play Slacker (like pandora) for 8-10 hours a day at work and commuting.

Facebook User
7th January, 2014 @ 05:05 pm PST

Keep display timeout at 20-30 seconds and use a display timeout extender app, such as the free "ReOn Extra Time"

This app will extend the screen timeout when you need it.

I recommend this particular one because this also comes with a SmarterStay option for Samsung phones. This will extend the screen timeout when there is not enough light for SmartStay to detect whether you are looking at it.

Gergo Viczian
19th June, 2014 @ 03:01 pm PDT

Even with wifi and BT disabled you still use a lot of power, typically between 5 and 7% battery life. What Google do is disable access by a number of means (data clock rate...), but they don't actually turn the chip off so its still using quite a lot of power.

I tested this theory a few years ago by buying a tablet with just wifi. I then tested it under normal use (no wifi comms but still enabled) to see how much power it consumed (11%), then I tried again with it disabled (7%), and then again with the chip physically removed (0%).

If you measure the signals given off by the device using a wifi tester as most people seem to do, you are bound to not find it listed or giving off anything as it's only looking for a valid wifi signal it can connect to (doh!), and if it can't connect to a valid signal it doesn't actually show it's there making you believe that there is no signal. However, if you test the signals given off, by using a proper frequency analyser you will find the device still emits a strong signal (hence lower battery life than you should have) (btw: The fools at Apple went the same route as Android after ios v4.1, and strangely enough have had their own battery issues since! My suspicion is that they employed an ex-Android Developer to modify their code and he used the same techniques as he had previously. It's only a hunch but the issue is too similar to discount it.) My initial conclusion (so far!) is that they leave the carrier signal on for some reason. Maybe so that they can use it for randomly scanning wifi hotspots as has been reported so widely. Either way it eats battery life which is not good for us, and so far after testing 100's of apps I can't find an app that uses its own code to actually turn off the wifi instead of using standard google code to disable access. Imagine thinking a CD or MP3 player is off when all you have done is remove the speakers! it's the same thing, and still uses power.

If anyone 'knows' of a good app that actually turns off the wifi I would be very interested.

PowerHunter
14th July, 2014 @ 11:34 am PDT
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