The Truth About Android Battery Life: Backlight, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS

The Truth About Android Battery Life: Backlight, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS
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Android Battery Life

As I’ve said in other articles, even though I consider myself an “Apple user” and use Mac OS X on a daily basis I prefer my Android phone over my iPhone. I love the high definition video my Android phone is capable of, I love the 10 MP camera included in my Android phone and most of all I love the level of customization that is available on the Android OS (Operating System). That being said, most Android phones are notorious for poor battery life so you may be asking yourself, as I am, what’s the use of having all these excellent features when using your Android phone to its fullest drains your battery in a matter of hours?

Sadly I am in the same boat as you and trying to balance the cool features of an Android phone with battery life. Perhaps someday we will have an Android phone that can handle all the bells and whistles and still give us a day’s battery life. Until then, the following tips will help you extend your Android battery life at the expense of some of the more useful features of the Android OS.

Android’s Built-in Battery Use Screen

Some Android users may not be aware of the built-in Android battery life screen but it is a very useful tool when trying to determine which applications and/or Android OS features are putting the most strain on your Android battery life. The Android battery life screen can be accessed via Settings > About Phone > Battery use and will give you a sorted list of which of your Android apps are draining the most battery life.

Now that we have an idea of what is having the greatest (negative) effect on our Android battery life, let’s take the steps needed to decrease that impact.

(Image: Provided by Author)

Dim Your Backlight

By default many Android phones are shipped with the backlight display at max. This puts a substantial drain on your Android battery life and is unnecessary in most situations. You can play with your backlight display settings in different environments but basically you want to have it set to the lowest value you can stand in each situation. This will put less strain on your phone and increase your Android battery life. You can access the Android backlight settings via Settings > Sound & display > Brightness.

Disable Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS

Disabling Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS when they are not needed will make a major difference in the battery life of your Android phone. All three of these services require a substantial bit of power to operate and even when you are not using them, if they are enabled, they will still drain a significant amount of power. Also, as I found out recently, there are several Android apps that you may have installed from the market that make use of your GPS without it being terribly obvious. Turning off GPS unless you have a specific need for it is always a good idea.

Android Power Widget

Android Battery Life - Power Control Widget

You can adjust the three settings mentioned in the previous section manually through the settings screen (as well as backlight display) but I prefer to use the Android power widget for quick access to these settings on-the-go. To add the Android power widget to your home screen simply long press your home screen, select Widgets and then Power Control. This will add the sleek and extremely useful Android power widget to your home screen for quick access.

(Image: Provided by Author)

Adjust Apps That Sync Automatically

Many built-in and add-on Android apps are set up to automatically sync your data on a regular basis. This can again put a strain on your Android battery and should be disabled or adjusted to maximize your Android battery life. These Android apps that sync data automatically include, but are not limited to, the default e-mail app, Seesmic, Twitter and Facebook. Each of these applications has its own settings where you can adjust (or disable) automatic synchronization of your data. Play around with the values and, depending on the amount of these Android apps you run, you should be able to find a happy medium between keeping the apps functional and extending your Android battery life.

Install and Use Advance Task Killer

Android Battery Life - Advanced Task Killer

A good practice when dealing with problematic Android battery life is to install a task manager/killer app. These Android apps will show you a list of what is running at startup and give you the option to kill or auto-kill these applications each time you boot your phone. Auto-killing Android apps that run at boot that you don’t use is a great way to help extend your Android battery life. Many of the Android apps that auto run when you boot your phone you probably didn’t know existed let alone use.

(Image: Provided by Author)

Android Battery Life: Conclusion

I’ll say it again, I love my Android phone but I don’t love having to choose between a longer Android battery life and making use of all the cool features of the phone. However, until the perfect Android phone is released with a battery that far outperforms the ones currently on the market I make use of the above tips to help me extend my Android battery life to an exceptable length of time. I hope you find a few of them work for you. Got an Android battery related tip that you’d like to share? Use the comments section below!


Author’s own experience.