Saturday, September 21

How to Boost Android Battery Life

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Short battery life has been a drawback of all smartphones for as long as they have been around, and the problem seems to be a never-ending one. As device manufacturers improve battery technology and capacity, more power-hungry processors have become the norm. Programmers get better at building battery-friendly apps, and then users are encouraged to install more and more apps on their phones. There are, however, several things users can do to increase the length of time between charges.

Use the Quick Settings

Many current Android devices now allow you to quickly see and control what services are running (Wi-Fi, GPS, etc.) This is similar to the Power Control widget found on some other devices. Although the quick settings don’t actually save battery power, they do allow you to quickly and easily keep battery draining services under control.

Remember Power Saving Mode

Many Android devices now include a Power Saving feature which, with the flick of a switch, can automatically activate several power-saving tools. These include limiting the performance of the CPU, reducing the amount of power going to the display and turning off Haptic Feedback. You probably won’t want to activate all of these tools all of the time, but in an emergency it can work well.

Adjust the Backlight Brightness

One of the quickest and easiest ways to save some battery juice is to turn down the brightness of the screen backlight. There are a couple of different methods to do this. Open Settings > Display > Brightness and then move the slider down to wherever you think is acceptable. Less than 50% is advised. You can also access the brightness control from the Notifications panel. If your Android device allows you to check what is using the most battery power (and most current devices should), you will almost certainly see that the biggest drain on the battery is the display, with the backlight being a large part of that.

Change the Homescreen Wallpaper

Getting rid of your lovely Live Wallpaper isn’t going to give you an extra 24 hours for watching videos, but it will make a slight difference if your device is really struggling to last a day. And if you’re changing to static wallpaper, choose a dark (preferably black) one. The pixels in AMOLED screens, found on many Android devices, are photoemissive. This means that they generate light.

Decrease the Screen Timeout Delay

Again, this will not save massive amounts of power, but every little helps! And do you really need your screen to stay on for ten minutes after you finish using it? Obviously you can switch off the screen manually before you put your device away, but each time you get a notification or a message and then don’t check it or don’t hear it, your screen may stay on for whatever period is set.

Turn Bluetooth Off

A surprisingly large number of people leave Bluetooth running all the time. Quite apart from being a bit of a security issue, Bluetooth will also use up a big chunk of your battery power over the course of a day, even if not actually sending or receiving files. To turn off Bluetooth go to Settings > Bluetooth. You can also control Bluetooth with the Quick Settings.

Turn Off GPS and Wireless Networks

Having GPS turned on will drain the battery like almost nothing else. If you are using location-reliant apps, then of course you may need to have GPS on. Just remember to turn it off when you aren’t using it. Turn off GPS either with the Quick Setting buttons or go to Settings > Location Services. While you’re in Location settings, make sure that Use Wireless Networks is also unchecked.

Turn Wi-Fi Off (or Have it Always On)

Following a bit of a theme, turn Wi-Fi off when you don’t need it. Alternatively, if you are usually near a reliable Wi-Fi connection, set it to be Always On. Wi-Fi uses less battery than a data connection, and when Wi-Fi is on, 3G will be off. Go to Settings > Wi-Fi. Press the Menu button and then choose Advanced. Open the Wi-Fi Sleep Policy menu and choose Never.

Reduce App Update Frequency

If you don’t want to disable Always-On Mobile Data, you can go into each app which updates regularly (Facebook apps, Twitter apps, etc.) and change their individual settings to update less regularly. Where you will find this setting varies between apps, but it will usually be in the main settings menu for the app, sometimes under Notifications.

Limit Background Apps

A quick way to reduce battery drain is to stop some of the apps running in the background. From Settings > Apps, swipe to the left and you will see a list of apps that are currently running. Tap on each one to see what they’re for, and then you can stop any apps that you don’t need running in the background all of the time.

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Russ has been immersed in the world of technology since talking his way into a computer journalism job 25 years ago. If it is shiny, complicated and has LED's and a screen, he will want to master it.

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