Ten Tips To Improve The Battery Life of your Android Phone – The Definitive Guide

by Informer in Android, Tips&Tricks | 0 comments

images | Ten Tips To Improve The Battery Life of your Android Phone – The Definitive Guide

Hi folks, so you have bought a new shiny android phone and after using it for 4 hours you realize that the battery has dropped down to 40%. Hmm, and now in search of an answer you have came across this thread. 
So basically we will give you some useful Tips&Tricks over here and also try to dispel some common myths about improving battery life of android phone. And remember that you have bought this new smartphone to enjoy it, so if someone tells you to save battery by not watching videos/not surfing the internet/not using the GPS then don’t pay any heed !!

Anyways, here we go with the ten Tips&Tricks which will help you conserve battery life on your phone.

1. Use a Custom ROM. This is a big one. You may not realize it but unless you have a ‘pure’ Android phone like Google Nexus, most smartphones come pre-loaded with tons of bloatware. Custom ROMs remove this junk at the system level and are also much more optimized. If you want to install a custom ROM or wanna find out more about them, you can read our comprehensive guide over here.

2. Use automatic brightness feature under Settings –> Display. This will cut down on the biggest  battery muncher …. display.

3. This brings us to the next point, which is to use the battery usage tool which is built in the Android OS. You can access it under Settings –> About Phone –> Battery use, and it will tell you the percentage use of each application.

4. Re-calibrate your battery. Note you can do this only if your phone is rooted. So basically you drain your phone all the way, recharge it all the way back, and while the charger is plugged in, go into the recovery menu and under advanced, choose ‘wipe battery stats’.
This will not really improve your battery life per say, but re-calibrate it and make it more consistent so that it does not fall from 100 to 80 in just 30 minutes.

5. Use your battery all the way, don’t just recharge it all the time when it drops down to 70 or 80. This ensures that your battery is getting enough cycles of charging and discharging.

6. DO NOT use a task killer. This is an important one folks. As opposed to the common myth, task killers actually hurt battery life, and this has been said by Google Android Developers themselves multiple times. Even if you use a task killer, you can use it to kill selective tasks but don’t go around killing all the task. Android just does not work like your PC or laptop. It loads the commonly used programs itself and does an excellent job of handling the memory on its own.

7. Try to avoid using un-necessary widgets. They are a big drawn on battery life.

8. Remove un-needed applications on an on going basis. The more junk you accumulate on your system, it will gradually start to bog down the battery.

9. Use the build it Power Widget to quickly turn off features like GPS or bluetooth which you are not using.

10. Last but definitely not the least, here is a very interesting post by user ‘BruceElliott’ on the XDA-Developers forum which tries to get to this whole issue with a very fresh perspective. The basic premise is to figure out which programs cause the most battery drainage and then to freeze or temporary lock them, and monitor the effect.


Several Things to Understand

(1) Every time an instruction executes, the battery loses a tiny amount of charge.

(2) A given app executes a number of instructions per second that is often (but not always) dependent on the amount of user interaction with the app. So, using that app for X amount of time will drain your battery by Y amount. Although the app coders and ROM cookers may squeeze a bit more efficiency out of the system through code optimization, battery drain caused by using apps is largely fixed and you can do nothing about it other than not using the app (which, of course, defeats the purpose of having a smart phone).

(3) The above is the bad news. The good news is that most of us (particularly if one is gainfully employed) interact with our phones for a relatively small percentage of our 24-hour day (during which time we have little control over battery drain, as mentioned above). That is very good news, because it means that during most of our 24-hour day we can (potentially) control battery drain. My phone uses less than 1% per hour on standby precisely because it really is on standby. This is not rocket science; and I will explain how to do it.

(4) What "He Who Is Sworn to Do No Evil" does not want you to know. (Or: Google Meets Pocahontas.). The Android OS and many of the thousands of apps are free, right? Wrong! Nothing in life is free. The heart and soul of Google and others in this business is data collection and monetization of the collected data. Doing so takes lots of CPU cycles, including all of yours that these companies can possibly wrangle from you without upsetting you too much. Think of this analogy… The English arrived at Jamestown and traded shiny beads and trinkets for food, land, and other valuable stuff. Google and company trades you a shiny new OS and app toys in exchange for your data, which they have thus far managed to monetize in amounts greater than the GNPs of many countries. I wonder how many of those screaming for Froyo and Gingerbread realize that increasingly intrusive CPU cycle-hungry data collection tools will be imbedded in every succeeding version of the shiny new OS/app toys. I believe that the rate of increase of those cycle-stealing data collection tools over time will be limited only by the rate of hardware performance improvements over that same time, such that the natives do not get too restless due to lag, battery drain, etc.

How to Fix Your Battery Drain Problem

So now, if you have endured my philosophical rant (or have been clever enough to skip to this point), here is how to fix your battery drain:

(1) Purchase the Pro versions of SystemPanel and Titanium Backup. (No, you will not be able to accomplish this with the free versions; don’t waste your time.)

(2) Configure SystemPanel ("Settings") to enable Monitoring, AppCPU Monitors, AppCPU Time, System Monitor, and System Processes. Under Monitoring Settings, checkmark to enable "Start at Boot," "High Priority," and "Status Bar Icon." Under Plot Settings, checkmark "Usage Plots," "CPU Plots," and "App CPU Plots." Said plot settings will cause logarithmic plots to be drawn. This will reveal small values that otherwise might be hidden down at the bottom of the vertical axis.

(3) Now, on the screen that first appears when you start SystemPanel, you will see all apps that are currently loaded in RAM and active as entries with a grey background at the top of a long list of entries, with the heading "Active Applications." At the left of each app entry is a bar graph displaying CPU activity for that app in real time. The next series of entries, labeled "Inactive (Cached) Applications," with aqua backgrounds, consists of apps that are (supposedly) inactive, with stubs cached in RAM. This group merits an occasional glance during the analysis. Although there should be no bar graph activity for these apps, I have sometimes caught the Market app burning significant CPU cycles while presumably cached. The third and final series of rust-colored entries is labeled "Internal System Processes." Some of these bar graphs will show CPU activity. This is a highly suspect area, because it includes data collection processes built into the OS and running in the background.

(4) Although the real-time monitoring tools are interesting and may be useful to "catch" an app or process burning cycles when the app/process should be inactive based upon your current interaction with the device, this tool is limited precisely because you must catch the app/process in the "act."

(5) So, now press the Menu key down at the bottom left of the screen and then "Monitor" to get to the good stuff. There are two tabs at the bottom of the screen, "Live" and "History," with "Live" being the default when you pull up this screen. The good stuff is under "History." The default screen under "History" shows battery charge state, "Device Usage" (not clear what this means; it is not explained in the Help and I have not yet contacted the developer to ask the question), and CPU Activity. CPU Activity is key to our current effort. You can choose the time period for which the CPU activity is displayed by pulling down the arrow at the upper right of the screen. I rarely use any time period other than 2 or 8 hours. 8 hours is, of course, spot-on for monitoring while you are sleeping. 2 hours is better for a higher-resolution view when you have been using an app for period of time and wish to view the CPU utilization over that period of time.

========>> While the phone is not being used, it should spend a significant amount of time in sleep state. That is indicated by the green CPU activity color disappearing completely during some intervals along the timeline. The overall appearance reminds me of a cityscape, the green bars being the buildings and the sleep periods being empty space between the buildings. If, while your phone is on the table, not being used (with wifi, Bluetooth, and GPS turned off, of course), your history graph shows solid green along the timeline, then, irrespective of the height of the green areas, you will have confirmed that your unacceptable battery discharge rate is being caused by some app/process that is running while you do not want it to be. However, you will not yet know the identity of the evil app(s)/process(es). Also note that the total CPU utilization (green bar height) should be not much over 1%, if present at all in a particular time slot.

(6) To find which apps/processes are causing the problem, pull down the "Plot" arrow at the upper left of the screen and select "Top Apps." The resulting screen is a list of apps/processes ordered according to highest CPU usage over the period of time selected using the upper-right down arrow dropdown menu (e.g., 2 or 8 hours). While you are sleeping, your smart phone should be too! Following my sleep period, my phone shows only 2-4 apps with anything above 0.0%. The app with the most usage will show only about 0.2 to about 0.4% And (this is key), the "suspend" process should be toward the top of the list. Take note of any app/process that is out of line here.

(7) Now, fire up Titanium Pro. It will take Titanium awhile to load its database and display a list of all apps/processes installed on your phone. Press the Menu key and navigate to "Filters." Make sure that all three filters are set to "All." Press back key then press the "Backup/Restore" tab at the top center of the screen. Scroll down the list of apps/processes to find the potential cycle-sucking app/process that you identified in the previous step (6). Do not un-install anything!!!! Doing so is unnecessary, could damage your system, and may be counter-productive in any case because it may cause changes in your system beyond simply disabling the suspect process/app. The key here is, to the best of your ability, to change only one thing at a time in order to precisely pinpoint the problem. Short-press that app/process entry to get to an action page for that app/process. Press "Freeze!" You will receive a pop-up bubble confirming that the app/process has been frozen, and the "Freeze!" button will have changed to "Un-freeze!"

(8) Now, let the phone rest for a couple of hours, then look at history again to see any effect on CPU utilization from having frozen the single app/process.

(9) Repeat this process with additional suspect apps/processes until the damn phone sleeps like it should as described in (5) above. If a frozen system process or system app causes instability, just un-freeze it.

(10) Not by accident, I suspect, the Android OS treats the closure of an app ambiguously, at least from a user perspective. How do you "close" an app? (Meaning, for purposes of this discussion, instructing an app to keep a stub in RAM if it likes but not to execute any further instructions until explicitly opened again at some point in the future.) A few apps have an "Exit" button. Others go into this state when you back out to the top of the screen tree. Other apps stay "conveniently" ambiguous when you back out to the top of the screen tree and may show CPU activity thereafter. If you simply cannot live without an app that falls into the latter category (by keeping it frozen), then you may have to explicitly kill it after you finish using it. Ones to watch in this regard (in my experience…ymmv) include Market, Astro, Google Maps, Google Earth, Gallery(?), CardioTrainer (a REAL CPU hog), Dolphin Browser & Plugins, DRM Protected Content Storage (x2???), and Media Hub (this one is really scary).

(11) Another possibility, for an app that you rarely need, would be to keep it frozen except while using it. It only takes a few seconds to fire up Titanium and do the freeze/un-freeze. I have not found this to be necessary, though.

Miscellaneous Notes:

(a) I ony used Advanced Task Killer once in awhile and always in manual mode. It is now frozen, replaced by SystemPanel. Just long-press on an app/process to get to a kill option.

(b) Antivirus was causing too much drain, not because it utilizes much CPU at any given moment but because it must necessarily run constantly, as is the nature of an anti-virus application. I was ambiguous about this decision, but decided to do it on the basis of the ongoing contraversy/doubt as to the risk of virus infection on the Android platform.

(c) The JI2 vs. JI6 modem contraversy regarding battery drain is trivial, imho, compared to the results that you will get by following the instructions above. I highly recommend the system that I am using, described below. It is fast, stable, and the supposedly more sensitive/powerful JI6 modem causes practically zero battery drain in the sleep state.

(d) As a bonus, your phone will charge very quickly because the spigot is not open at the bottom, draining while you are charging.

(e) Although this post is mainly about battery utilization during idle periods, a simple step came to mind for decreasing battery drain during periods of use. The display consumes massive amounts of power. It is generally known that the Vibrant’s AMOLED display is emissive, meaning that it emits light rather than passing light from behind. As a consequence, areas of black are created simply by turning the LEDs off in those areas, resulting in low power consumption for those areas. Therefore, black themes can result in significant power savings. Note that this is uber simple to do. Just install a black image as wallpaper! Icons, text, etc. seem to be nicely designed with a mixture of light and dark colors such as to be seen against a black background. In "contrast," the stock Vibrant light green theme is a big power waster. Some apps, like stock browser, will frustrate these efforts by drawing white or very light gray over the wallpaper. That results in an enormous waste of power, because all pixels must turn on to create white. And, needless to say, I keep my screen at minimum intensity except for some quick use while in the noonday sun.

You can read the full post over here at the xda-developers forum. 

This is it folks, If you have any other Tips&Tricks please share them with us,

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