Extend the battery life of your Android smartphone with these super-charged tips and tricks.
Android smartphones may be the power user’s answer to the iPhone, but long battery life isn’t an advantage that many of them can claim. This is hardly surprising given the amount of activity that can be happening on an Android smartphone at any given point. Between apps running rampant in the background, live widgets and wallpapers clamouring for attention on the homescreen, plus multiple email and social networking accounts synchronising at will, it’s surprising these smartphones actually last as long as they do.
The usual power-saving tips apply to making your smartphone battery go the extra mile. Wi-Fi and GPS are both big drains on the battery, so make sure to turn these features off when you’re not using them. If your smartphone doesn’t have icons in the notification window for turning Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS on and off (this differs between phones), add the Power Control widget to your homescreen for easy access to them by pressing ‘Menu > Add > Widgets > Power Control’.
Check which settings and apps are draining your smartphone's battery.
Screen brightness is another thing to watch for; obviously, the higher the brightness levels are, the more it will drain the battery. The ‘Automatic brightness’ setting (found in ‘Settings > Display > Brightness’) is the best configuration, as this will dynamically adjust the screen depending on ambient lighting conditions. Alternatively, set it as low as you can while still being able to see the screen clearly – you’d be surprised at how bright it still is at the lowest setting. While you’re in Display Settings, you could also adjust the Screen timeout setting to a shorter time.
One of our favourite things about Android is that notifications for new events happen in real-time, whether it’s a new email, Twitter mention, or Facebook message. If you’re happy to forgo this convenience for the sake of better battery life, however, go to ‘Settings > Accounts & Sync’ and uncheck the ‘Background data’ and ‘Auto-sync’. You’ll still get all of your messages, but only when the relevant program is active.
Android has a handy feature built-in to the operating system that shows you the main culprits of battery usage on your phone. Go to ‘Settings > About phone > Battery Use’, and you’ll see the top five culprits organised by percentage. This screen also tells you how long your phone has been running since you last took it off charge, which can be a handy metric if you’re trying to figure out how long your phone typically lasts on a charge.
If you’re still not happy with your phone’s battery life, short of buying a spare battery, you may need to resort to a third party app to manage your battery for you. The free Juice Defender app is an excellent power management app that lets you customise everything from the minimum and maximum CPU speed (provided your phone is rooted) and set schedules for turning data connectivity on and off (switching data off at night can make a big difference if you never turn your phone off), to creating ‘triggers’ that disable particular settings and programs when your battery goes below a particular threshold. Once the app has been running for a while, it will even tell you how much it has increased your battery life by.
Juice Defender lets you set up schedules and triggers to maximise battery life.
There are a couple of add-ons you can get to extend Juice Defender’s functionality too, such as JuicePlotter (free) which uses graphics and estimates, and Ultimate Juice ($4.80) for more fine-grained control, plus the option to factor in GPS locations.