How to Get the Most Out of Your Android Device's Battery

If you just got a new Android device, you might be surprised how quickly its battery drains compared to other cell phones.  An  Android device requires a lot of power for its screen, processor, operating system, and inbound/outbound data processing.  However, luckily there are many things you can do to noticeably extend your device's battery life.  Here are some things to try (you don't have to do all of them; experiment):

  • Charge the phone whenever possible.  Carry around your phone's included USB cord and AC adapter.  Plug the device into any computer or electric outlet you can, when you can, once its battery level gets below your comfort level.  Consider purchasing car charger so you can also charge the phone while driving.
  • Buy an additional battery to carry as a backup.  You can carry around an extra battery or buy an extended battery.  The latter is larger, bulkier, and more expensive, though, so I would recommend just getting another regular battery.
  • Activate the included power widget so you can quickly toggle on and off Bluetooth, GPS, wireless, screen brightness, and data synchronization. Use this to easily and quickly turn off power-draining features when you don't need them. To install, do a long press on the screen, select Android Widgets, then Power Control.  The widget looks like a long bar with 5 buttons that you use to toggle settings.
  • Using the power widget, turn off Bluetooth when it's not in use.  This will make a discernible difference.
  • Using the power widget, turn off GPS, too; though it may not always be in use unless an app is using it, you don't want something unbeknownst to you using GPS and draining power needlessly. Just turn it on when you think you'll need it.
  • Using the power widget, turn off wireless if you don't need it.  If it's on, your phone will be scanning for wireless networks and draining power while doing so.
  • Using the power widget, consider turning off data synchronization.  If you don't need your apps regularly pulling in updates, then this is another way to conserve power.
  • Turn your screen's brightness to the lowest level you can comfortably read.  The power toggle lets you switch between lowest brightness, full brightness, and auto brightness. You can also search the Android Market for widgets that also let you easily change brightness settings. (I use Brightness Level, a widget that displays current brightness level.) I use 0% brightness indoors and find that sufficient nearly 100% of the time.  Auto suffices outdoors; just switch to auto before heading out.
  • Once done using your phone, tap the power button to put it in standby -- don't let the screen stay on needlessly in your pocket or bag.
  • Set your screen display to the lowest possible setting -- 30 seconds.  Then install the free app KeepScreen to set just a few apps to override this and stay on continuously for easy viewing.
  • Be conscientious in your use of widgets that pull in data such as news, scores, and weather.  Set those to update as infrequently as you comfortably can.
  • Consider deactivating Background Data.  You can do this via Settings > Data Management > Data Delivery.  When you deactivate Background Data, you'll see a prompt saying this will conserve battery power.  The drawback is certain apps don't update automatically, and the Market won't work without toggling it back on.  You'll have to experiment to see if this works for you.  If you like this technique, install the free app AnyCut and use it to create a shortcut to Data Management on your screen so you can more easily and quickly toggle this setting.
  • Go to Settings > Battery Management and enable the setting "Maximum Battery Saver"
  • Get a free app to monitor battery level remaining.  I use the app "BatteryTime Lite," which I like for two reasons.  First, if you tap on the shortcut or widget, you'll get a listing of usages and time remaining; for example, 3 hours of web time, 50 hours of standby time, 10 hours of talk time, etc.  Second, you can, instead of using just a shortcut, place BTL on your screen as a widget that shows percent of battery life left.
  • Put a shortcut to battery use on you screen so you can monitor which functions are needlessly draining power.  To install the shortcut, long press and then select Shortcuts > Settings > Battery use. Anything that badly drains power should be reevaluated.
  • Avoid using a task killer.  The Froyo version of the Android operating system is good at assigning minimal resources to long-running background services; if you kill a task and it restarts, it'll use more power again to start.  However, apps that you don't use and that don't restart are worth manually killing.  I don't use Skype, for instance, and it doesn't restart, so I kill it manually.
  • If you don't like doing these sort of power-saving steps manually, consider installing the app JuiceDefender.  There is a free and a pro version.  I find the free version sufficient for phone power management.  JD will automatically manage tasks and apps, doing things such as limiting data synchronization to 1 minute every 15 minutes.  I found that the free JD app did make a difference, but that I experienced even better battery conservation by manually managing certain features, so I currently do not use JuiceDefender.
  • When possible, surf using wireless instead of 3G.  The stronger wireless signal taxes the battery less.

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