01 Nov Improving Battery Life On Your Android Smartphone
One of the first and biggest complaints that new Android smartphone users commonly voice is that their device is a battery hog. Of course it is. It takes a lot of power just to light up that large, bright screen and the powerful operating system itself. That said, there are a number of things you can do in the phone’s settings to squeeze a few extra hours out of your battery.
By default, your smartphone’s settings are optimised to dazzle you, rather than conserve battery life. It’s a smart marketing ploy, but once you get your phone home, you will want to optimise it for usefulness rather than immediate appeal. And a phone whose battery runs out before the day is over is not particularly useful. So here are a few things you can do that will extend your battery life considerably. It still won’t let you go much more than a day without recharging, but at least you won’t have a brick in your pocket by the time you leave the office and head for the pub.
Activate automatic screen brightness – When you first got your hands on the smartphone of your dreams, you were impressed by its bright, colourful screen. That screen takes a lot of juice, but you can conserve much of that juice simply by setting your display brightness to Automatic. The phone will react to the ambient light wherever you are, and adjust the display accordingly. You will want it to be bright enough to be readable when you are in a well-lit room or outside on a clear day, but not so bright as to make you squint when you have to decide whether to answer that call in the middle of the night.
Turn off location services – Satellite navigation uses a lot of energy, since it is accessing satellite and cell tower signals all the time. Sure, it is handy when you need directions or want to locate a nearby pizza place, but do you really need it 24/7? Better to turn it off until you actually need it. Your battery will thank you for it.
Turn off WiFi – Unless you use WiFi to connect to other networks on a regular basis, you might as well leave a radio playing when you aren’t listening to it. And in this case, the radio is also broadcasting, looking for networks, and that takes a toll on battery life.
Be selective in what you synch – Automatic synch of email and especially the photos you take with your camera is not only an energy hog, it is a data hog, as well. Consider setting your phone to synch only when connected to WiFi, or better still, turn off automatic synchronisation altogether, and synch manually, preferably when your phone is plugged into your computer and charging.
Install a battery optimisation app – Figuring out and changing all the settings to maximise battery life can be cumbersome, and in some cases, could render your phone unusable until you can figure out what needs to be reset. To make battery management simpler, there are a number of battery optimisation apps that can virtually automate the process, while still giving you full control over your phone’s operation. A couple of highly rated ones are:
Juice Defender, which comes in three versions: Free, Plus, and Ultimate. Most people will find the Free version adequate, but if you’re an aggressive user, you might opt instead for the $1.99 Plus or $4.99 Ultimate versions, each of which offers greater customisation and control. (Note: You will need to install the Free version first at any rate, since the other versions require that it be installed in order to function.)
Battery Aid is a free app that essentially simplifies changing the existing settings available on your phone. The free version provides a one-click optimisation process. For those who want greater control, there is a Pro version available, but in our opinion, its usability doesn’t quite match up to that available with Juice Defender.
Thankfully, developers and designers are constantly searching for new battery and software technologies to improve battery capacity and make smartphones more efficient. If you are considering the purchase of a new Android smartphone, you will want to compare the features of several models, including estimated talk and standby time, and use those estimates as essential guidelines in making your purchase.
It might seem a bit of a bother, having to change settings in your smartphone, and even with all the recommended changes, you still won’t get anywhere near the battery life you came to expect from your old flip phones. Then again, your smartphone can perform many functions for which you used to be forced to lug around a bulky notebook. By finding the balance between usability and long battery life, all but the heaviest users should be able to make it through the day and well into the evening before having to recharge. In our mind, the convenience and improvement is well worth the effort or minimal cost of an app.