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Weekend Project: Improve battery life with our 10 top tips
I bet you wish the battery life on your phone was a little bit better don't you! Well, here's MoDaCo's 10 top tips for improving your device's longevity.
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- Optimise your screen brightness
- When you check your device's battery usage, you'll see that the screen is more than likely up top. Especially on newer devices, the screen is a power suck. Now, aside from not looking at your device, a great way to save battery is to be more savvy when it comes to screen brightness. Generally speaking having it permanently set to a low brightness isn't that practical, but don't set it permanently to a high brightness - use auto brightness where possible. On some devices, auto brightness isn't that brilliant, so what if you could set your own thresholds and tailor auto brightness to exactly how you like it? You can, thanks to a utility in the Google Play store called Lux. I use Lux and after the initial setup period, i've found it to make a big difference.
- Shorten your screen timeout
- Another screen tip, this time it's shortening your screen timeout. Generally this is set to 30 seconds or even longer on some devices, but really, you don't want the screen to stay on when you've stopped using it do you? I have this set to 15 seconds. When you DO want the screen to stay on is when you Are using it. On the Galaxy S III the 'Smart Stay' functionality looks after this, but if you aren't using one of those, you should check out Screebl Beta in the Play Store. This app looks at the movement and angle of your device to determine if you're using it. It works great! If you're on Jelly Bean already, you can also disable the Screebl icon in the notification area.
- Uninstall / freeze unused apps
- You know all those apps you've installed from the Play Store and never really use? Now might be a good time to cull those as a number of them might be impacting your battery. Whether you're firing them up yourself or not, they may have services running in the background using CPU (and therefore battery) and perhaps even syncing data with the Internet. If you're reluctant to uninstall 'in case you need them' and you're on Ice Cream Sandwich or above, you can 'Disable' them, this stops them using any resources but leaves them accessible at the click of a button. Note that disabled apps also get updated as normal from the Play Store, so you can disable an app and if an interesting update comes in, re-enable it to check it out.
- Check your sync settings
- So you've cleared out your unwanted apps and everything you have installed now you really need. The next step is to go through each app in turn and check the notification / sync settings. You might be surprised to see how often apps are going off to the Internet to check for updates, using valuable power. Take the 'Words with Friends' app for instance - it syncs every 5 minutes to check for new moves. You can save a bit of battery by extending that and the same goes for any app. Think about your usage patterns, how important the app is to you and set the sync time accordingly. If you can enable push (or replace the app with one that supports push), even better!
- Disable that Live Wallpaper
Sure, that Live Wallpaper looks pretty, but there's a good chance it's quite a battery suck too. Not only that, you might be surprised how much smoother your device feels with a regular wallpaper instead. Static wallpapers don't have to be boring... the excellent Wallbase application has a ton of great backgrounds!
- Look for rogue apps
- Now that you've got all your apps sorted, it's time to look for any 'rogue' apps affecting your battery life. The best tool for this is BetterBatteryStats. Available in the Play Store or free from XDA-Developers, the application gives you a lot more detail about what's going on in your device. One of the key areas to investigate is 'Partial Wakelocks' - this will show you applications that are stopping your device sleeping properly, which is one of the main culprits when it comes to battery drain.
- Turn off WiFi / Bluetooth when not in use
- A bit of a no brainer this one - running WiFi and Bluetooth radios when not in use isn't a great idea. If you're feeing nerdy you can create profiles yourself using Tasker to work some magic, or there are a number of utilities in the Play Store to make things easier. Wi-Fi Matic is a great app to enable / disable WiFi based on network cells (it works fantastically). A strategy for automating Bluetooth toggling depends a lot on how you utilise it.
- Make Latitude smarter
- Are you using Google Latitude to report your location? Are you sure? Best go in to Google Maps and check...? Latitude is a great way of reporting your location to friends and family, but it can be a bit brutal on battery life too. Aside from turning off location reporting altogether, a neat solution is to use the third party application Backitude. This allows you much more control over your location reporting allowing you to reduce the impact on your battery. I've throttled my location reporting to every 15 minutes, only via WiFi with cell backup and with 'location steals' enabled (if I am using GPS, it will use that for reporting my location). I've seen a real positive improvement since I started using it.
- Check you're on the latest ROM release
- No matter how much you optimise your battery usage, sometimes there are ROM optimisations that can be made and to take advantage of these you should always make sure you are on the latest release. This is particularly key if you picked up a new phone at the start of it's life cycle - early ROMs can be particularly inefficient and are quickly superceded by significant updates.
- Formulate an 'extremely low battery' plan
- OK, so you've done all of the above and you're ready to test out your improved battery. The thing is, there are STILL going to be times when you're running low on juice. What i've done is put a low-battery-mode in place (via Tasker, but you can do it with other tools) to eke out those last few %. Things like dimming the backlight, disabling Bluetooth / WiFi, switching to 2G, disabling background sync etc. can make all the difference, so it's definitely worth doing.
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