Get the most out of your cellphone battery life with these helpful power saving tips and apps, and these suggestions for better charging habits and equipment.
Check your current Android power use
- Settings -> About phone ->Battery use
Optimize your display
The biggest power consumer for your Droid phone is the beautiful 480×854 pixel screen. It typically consumes 1/3rd of my total battery between charges.
- Dial down your display brightness (Settings ->Sounds & display -> Brightness) and experiment with enabling the Automatic brightness option to see if will reduce your display’s power use. I have found that Automatic brightness makes my screen too dim in a lit room, but your mileage my vary.
- Adjust your screen timeout, which is the delay before the screen automatically shuts off after the last phone use. In the menu found at Settings -> Sounds & display -> Screen timeout, set the timeout to either 30 seconds or 1 minute.
Disable WiFi until you need it
Leaving wifi enabled when you are away from the home or office where you might be connecting to it is a constant drain on your battery as Android will be constantly powering up the wifi antennae to check for available wifi networks.
Android Power Control widget
- You can access the WiFi settings to disable it under Settings -> Wiresless & networks -> WiFi)
- You can create a button to give you one-touch enable and disable of WiFi (and GPS, Bluetooth) on your Android desktop with the Power Control widget. Long-press on the desktop to bring up the widget selector.
QRCode for WiFi OnOff
WiFi OnOff widget
If the Power Control widget is too large, you can download a one-button WiFi widget from the Android Market. One such widget is WiFi OnOff. Once downloaded, you can place that widget by long-pressing on your desktop, and selecting WiFi OnOff from the widget selector.
3G is fast, so I almost never enable wifi on the phone unless I’m home and planning on some extensive internet use with my phone or when I’m somewhere that has limited or no 3G connectivity.
Adopt new charging habits
Acquire charging equipment (see below) to make it easier to charge at your desk and on the go.
Charge your phone at your work and home computers. Get two micro-USB cables and leave them plugged into your computers so that you can simply plug your phone in if you know that you are going to be at your desk for awhile. The cables are cheap, so get a spare micro-USB cable for your bag – it will let you charge your phone from any device with a USB port: any computer, a Playstation 3, some newer TV’s, and many other electronic devices.
Li-Ion batteries do not suffer from the “memory effect” where a battery may hold less charge over time or after being over-charged, so it is OK to leave your phone plugged in, even after fully charged, though it does waste electricity.
Kill background processes
A cool feature that sets Android apart from the iPhone is better multitasking – the ability to run several processes/programs at once in the background. Nearly every app that is started on an Android phone continues to run in the background after you’ve navigated away from it. Android apps will continue to download Facebook and Twitter updates, or check for new e-mail, or update your position on the map in realtime – and apps that are already running are display instantly when selected.
QRCode to Advanced Task Killer
The Android operating system manages those apps that are running in the background, and will shut down apps that are no longer needed or to automatically free up memory. The problem is that it doesn’t automatically shut down background apps simply because they are consuming too much power or resources.
The solution is to install and use an Android task manager that can also kill running applications. I recommend Advanced Task Killer (free).
You can either search for it on the Marketplace or use Barcode scanner on this barcode:
Launching the Advanced Task Killer gives you a screen like this:
Tapping Kill selected apps will force those apps to stop running and free up the memory and resources that they were using. Most apps are selected by default, but you can de-select an app from being killed by unticking the box next to it. I will generally de-select Messaging and E-Mail from being killed, though E-Mail should be killed it least once per day to free up memory.
Advanced Task Killer sets itself to Auto Start – start automatically when the phone is started – and to Show Notification – display an icon in the notification bar. I choose to disable both of these default settings as I don’t need ATK itself running in the background and consuming memory, resources and power, and I don’t access it enough (see below) to want an ATK icon in my notification bar.
I usually only launch ATK and kill all of my background apps when:
- I’ve just spent several minutes using my phone and starting several apps that I am no longer using, especially GPS-enabled or auto-updating apps like Facebook. Those types of apps consume the most power over time.
- The phone seems to be running slower or lagging when starting apps or switching screens. Killing all running apps will make the phone much more responsive.
- I’ve received the “15% Battery Left” alert. Killing all running apps when seeing the alert usually gives me approx 4 hours of additional, reasonably heavy, usage before having to recharge.
As a pretty heavy Android user, I typically only need to launch ATK maybe once or twice per day. It makes a huge difference in both the battery life and the responsiveness of my Android phone.
Simply by disabling WiFi and killing running background processes when the phone seems to be operating slowly, I’m able to get at least 19 hours of heavy usage off of a full charge. I’m able to easily keep my charge topped-off by plugging in when I know that I’m going to be at my desk for an hour or two. Keep an occasional eye on your Battery use screen under the About Phone menu in Settings to identify any power hungry apps you may have installed.
Please share any other power use or charging tips in the comments section!