5 Ways To Increase Battery Life On Your Android Phone

Posted May 4, 2011
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With great power comes bad battery life. If the theme of Spider Man was smartphones, this is what Uncle Ben would have said, and how true he would have been. If you’re a proud owner of the latest and greatest Android smartphone, one of the peeves about it that you would have come across is the battery life, or lack thereof. Put simply, the battery will last for as long as you let it and more often than not I’ve seen people complain about bad battery when it’s their way of usage that’s at fault.

Today I will tell you 5 extremely simple ways you can dramatically improve your battery life without going into anything too technical or complicated.

1- GPS Sensor

Every Android phone comes with one. It’s the hardware that connects to the satellites to pin point your exact location. This is used in every app that requires your location eg Google maps, weather apps, twitter, facebook places etc etc.

Why it drains battery- If you’ve enabled latitude on Google Maps, your location will periodically be updated which will use the GPS sensor. Same goes for weather apps if you’ve set them to automatically detect your location which will again use GPS. Your GPS sensor is the most battery consuming hardware in your phone, always keep that in mind.

What you should do– Disable latitude and manually set your location in apps such as weather ones. This way whenever they are updated they will only update the weather and not the location. If you feel you need latitude or need your weather app to update your location, disable GPS sensor from your phone settings. GPS sensor is only required to pin point your location which is not required in a weather app. Your location can be detected via your network too, albeit not as accurate as a GPS sensor can.

2- Live Wallpapers

Face it, you got a spanking new Android phone and you want to rub this feature into your iOS loving friend. We all want to do that. But it can backfire too.

Why it drains battery– Live wallpapers come in a huge variety. Some of them have subtle effects and some are more extreme. When downloading one always check to see if it will use your accelerometer, proximity sensor or any other sensor. Some use hardware acceleration too. While they all look great, they can drastically reduce battery life.

What you should do– Use static wallpapers. I know initially it’s hard to resist live wallpapers but trust me static wallpapers look just as good. If not that then use live wallpapers with subtle effects eg the Nexus live wallpaper.

3- Polling Rate

Polling rate is the rate at which your applications automatically update eg news app, twitter, facebook, weather etc etc.

Why it drains battery– Every time an application updates it connects to your network, 3G, Edge or Wifi to get the required update. The more often that happens, the more strain it will put on your battery life.

What you should do– Reduce the time between each update. There is no point in a weather app having to update itself every 15-20 minutes (unless you’re a weather man). Similarly increase the update time for your social apps too. Even a 5-10 minute increase in time across 5-10 apps will have a drastic effect on your battery.

4- Screen Brightness

This is especially true for AMOLED/SAMOLED screens.

Why it drains battery– Without going into the whole science of it, the brighter the screen on an AMOLED phone, the more strain it will put on the battery. This is because rather than having the whole screen backlit, its the individual pixels that lights up, and when all 800×400 of them light up they have a negative effect on the battery. Similarly having wallpapers or themes with a lot of white in it will reduce battery life on a AMOLED phone.

What you should do– Keep brightness at 50% or less. Use dark colored wallpapers and themes.

5- WiFi

Why it drains battery– Just like a GPS sensor, Wifi is also hardware based, and the longer it’s on the more strain it will put on your battery

What you should do– Set WiFi to automatically go to sleep when your screen is off. If not that, switch off WiFi when you leave home. This will prevent your phone from endlessly searching for WiFi networks.

How to detect battery usage?

Every Android phone will have a battery settings menu which will show a % use of battery for each app. A ballpark figure would be to have your social apps, news apps or weather apps use less than 10% of the battery. Anywhere from 5-9% is ok for such apps. Anything more and you need to make corrective measures. Note that its ok for cell standby, android OS to take a lot of %.

A very good application I found to see battery usage in detail is Spare Parts. Use this application to check the partial awake usage. Partial awake basically means your phone will not properly go to sleep even when the screen is switched off. Usually an application is the culprit. Spare Parts will help you pin point that application.

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