Posted by: reformedmusings | September 29, 2012

Maximizing your smartphone’s battery life

Since I’m posting a bunch today, I might as well toss this out. I’ve developed this list of stuff over the years, but it’s fresh on my mind after a week of implementing everything on my new Samsung Galaxy S3.

Normally, the largest battery drains are using the radios (phone and data) and the screen. Sounds obvious, but it isn’t always obvious how deal with the radios.

First, set your screen to a comfortable minimum brightness. Some phones have photo sensors and can set the brightness automatically. That’s great, but comfortable brightness tends to be an individual preference. Auto may set the screen too high. Setting it lower will save battery. Also, set the screen time-out as short as is usable for you.

Second, control the radios. That means a couple of things.

1) Turn off the GPS when not using it for navigation. Don’t use it for weather, Facebook, etc. Use your zipcode instead.

2) When you don’t have reception, turn your phone to airline mode. Otherwise, the phone will keep looking for a cellular connection, eating up the battery. If you leave the phone in airline mode for a long time, you’ll be amazed at how long the battery lasts. If you have an LTE phone but there’s no LTE service in an area, the see if your phone has a way to turn LTE off. Same reasoning applies.

3) Only sync the absolutely minimum necessary to meet your needs. It’s amazing how many programs want to phone home all the time. News apps want to provide updates, email programs want to pull or push over short intervals, social apps rue even a minute of being out of touch. Just a few short years ago, we didn’t need to be so constantly bombarded by useless information. Nothing has changed since then.

So, go through all your apps that call home, or that you even suspect do so, and set them for manual updates. If you don’t use some of the built-in apps that phone home or sync, then go to Settings -> Application Manager, tap on the offending applications, then tap on Force stop, then Disable. This is the same as Freezing apps in Titanium Backup Pro. Once disabled or frozen, apps can no longer load themselves into memory and eat your battery.

Google offers to sync everything but your lunch. I turn it all off except for calendar and contacts. Samsung has Kies and Samsung Sync, both of which I froze along with all social apps. This made a difference because both loaded in the background even though I never used them.

Next, use static wallpaper. Live wallpaper looks great, but eats a lot of battery. Great for desktops but not so much for phones.

Limit your widgets. Almost all of them update often, which at least wakes up your phone often and at worst use the radios regularly. Weather, calendar, sports, news, etc., all go to the Net for updates. Decide what you need and only use those.

Lastly, keep track of those apps that consistently use the most CPU time. Certainly your main interface will top the list, but if you see an app using lots of CPU time that seems out of place, research it. Get rid of bad-behaving apps.

This is what I have off the top of my head tonight. Maybe more later.

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  1. […] wrote a generic post here about improving battery life on a smartphone. That will definitely get you there, but how do you […]


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