Cell phones are amazing. Think about how much they’ve advanced in the 2000’s. We’re now connected wherever we go, and our phones are the main source of communication and entertainment for a large segment of the population. One of the biggest issues that persists over the years is our displeasure with battery life. In a race to the bottom, companies like Apple and Samsung have become obsessed with making their phones thinner at the cost of bigger and longer lasting batteries.
Or you can follow our steps below to make your battery last as long as possible.
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The biggest energy sucker in your phone is your screen. We now have screens with resolution as high as 4K and most flagships released in 2015 and 2016 will feature 2K screens. That is a ton of pixels. While screens are getting more and more efficient, the trade off is that we’re asking them to do more. One of the easiest and most immediate things you can do to increase your battery life is lower your screen brightness. Skip using auto-brightness and manually set the brightness at the lowest comfortable level for you. Auto-brightness can keep the screen too bright costing you battery.
Another tip on reducing the impact of your screen on your battery life is reducing your screen time out. The less the screen is on, the less power it can use. If you use a one minute time-out your phone will often be sitting with its screen on waiting for the timer to run and out turn off. We check our phones many times a day and enough of these long time outs will result in reduced battery life.
Unless you’re using a radio, it might be a great idea to just turn off unused radios. GPS is a great example of a radio that can be turned off, or down, unless you’re currently using it. Google tracks where you are in the background and that uses a lot of battery to maintain a GPS lock. Google uses GPS extensively in Google Now and Location History so if you use these often, you may be limited in what these features can do for you.
You also have the option to change how accurately Android tracks you. In Settings > Location > Mode you can choose from High Accuracy, Battery Saving and Device only. High Accuracy uses GPS, WiFi, Bluetooth and cellular networks to determine location. Battery Saving will forgo using the GPS radio to determine your location and only use WiFi, Bluetooth and your cellular network. Under the Device Only option, only GPS will be used to determine your location.
Turning off radios like WiFi, Bluetooth and NFC can also positively impact battery life.
While we’re turning things off, you can turn off vibration as well. If vibration on key presses is something that doesn’t matter much to you, feel free to ditch it. Within most keyboards settings, it will give you the option to turn off vibration on key presses. Doing this within the app, instead of system settings, will still allow you to have vibration for things like pressing the back button and dialing, but not during typing. This will greatly reduce how much the vibration motor, and therefor your battery, has to work.
Finally, in our hardware section, we have something you can add to help you save battery life instead of something to subtract. Buy a smartwatch. While a smartwatch will use your bluetooth radio to stay connected, not turning on the screen a few times an hour to see if you have notifications or dismiss them will greatly outweigh the power consumption. I never could have realized how much I pull my phone out of my pocket to check it until I didn’t have to anymore.
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Universally the first thing I tell anyone who complains about their battery life is uninstall Facebook and Facebook Messenger. Facebook is awful for your phone. For the sake of this article, we won’t get into the ridiculous amount of permissions it asks for and instead focus on its battery draining issues. Facebook operates in the background pinging your location to give you relevant ads and check-in results. It pings your location a lot. It’s the same story with Facebook Messenger. These two apps are notorious among Android enthusiasts for being some of the worst battery suckers in the game.
If you’re looking for alternatives, you have plenty of choices. The first and most obvious choice is to open up the browser and visit Facebook.com. You’ll have almost all of the functionality you have with the app. There are third party apps like Folio and Tinfoil that also provide a pretty good experience while preserving your battery and privacy.
With some newer versions Android you can limit which apps have access to your location. Not only does this protect your privacy, but it also stops apps from looking for your location in the background. The less your apps are working in the background without your knowledge, the better. Turning off location access to apps who don’t need it ensures that apps are never burning up your battery by trying to find your location when the screen is turned off. You can choose which permissions your apps has by going into Settings > Apps, clicking on the app then clicking on Permissions and toggling them on and off.
Google uses your location to predict things like useful routes and alternatives, among other things. If that’s not something you’re interested in, you can disable Location History. Google goes in depth enough to let you see a timeline of where you’ve been. This can be helpful, especially if you’re doing something like tracking a stolen phone, but it also kills your battery. Turn this off if you’re not going to miss this feature. Many don’t even know it’s on! To disable your Location History, go into Settings > Location, scroll to the bottom and under Location services click on “Google Location History”. In this screen you can toggle on Location History for your Google account.
If you have an AMOLED screens on your phone, this tip is for you. Go black! Use black themed apps, wallpapers and themes to save your battery. With AMOLED screen, a black pixel actually turns off instead of displaying the color black like LCD screens. Not only does this give you deeper contrast, but it also results in better battery life because it has to power less pixels. We’ve posted several articles with a collection of AMOLED friendly wallpapers which you can check out here.
For our LCD brethren, avoid active wallpapers. They’ve been around since the pre-Ice Cream Sandwich days, and they’re cool, but all that movement kills your battery. Stick with a static background and your battery will thank you.
If you don’t need your email pushed to your phone as soon as it’s received, turn off auto-sync. This will affect more services like calendar entries, Chrome browsing sessions, Contacts, Docs, Drive and more, but this certainly will save you power if your phone isn’t constantly looking to update at the earliest possible moment. It is also possible to pick and choose which services are synced automatically. If you need some services to update automatically, but others on demand, head into Settings > Accounts > Google > Your Google Account and then toggle off services you don’t deem to be as important.
One more convenience feature that can go is hotword detection. In my case, I have a Nexus 6P so my phone is constantly scanning, waiting for me to say “Okay Google” to start a search. Since I have fingerprint security set up, this doesn’t work with screen off since it needs to be unlocked to do anything. If my screen is unlocked, I can just hit the microphone icon on the Google widget. Sure, I could come up with some small exception to this rule, but I’d much rather have the battery life this gains me, albeit a small amount, instead of having it on for the once or twice I’ll ever use it.
This wraps up our list of battery saving tips. While this isn’t an exhaustive list, this is a good start for almost everyone to get more screen on time out of their device. What you do to save battery in your device? Would you like to see a list of techniques that require root access? Tell us down in the comments what you have to say.