The more we rely on our smartphones to help make our lives a little bit less complicated, a little bit more organised, the bigger the tragedy when the devices die on us due to low battery life. So what's a smartphone addict to do? There's always the option of lugging around a spare battery or recharger (in the hopes of finding an outlet...).
A simpler alternative: finding the root of the problem and combating energy vampires thanks to apps such as BetterBatteryStats. Find out more below.
Test device: Samsung Galaxy Nexus
Android version: 4.0.4
Mods: MoDaCo Custom ROM
BetterBatteryStats reveals who the energy culprit is. As soon as you start it up it shows you which apps have been claiming processor time. The ones that take up the most are displayed at the top of the list. Let me give you an example: my list shows that "com.facebook.katana" has taken up 2 minutes of CPU, seeing as I've accessed it 34 times. This may not seem like a great big deal, but it kinda is. This is followed by a game I've accessed almost as often as the Facebook app. While the number of times I've accessed said applications is displayed, there's no information regarding the amount of time I've actually spent using them. However, we can't fault the developer for this—the most likely culprit is no doubt Google.
Hit 'Processes' in order to see information regarding 'Partial Wakelocks' (a function that will keep certain parts of the device active no matter what). Wakelocks make sense for music players, which is why Spotify is also at the top of my list. The screen itself takes up a lot, which it's often worth dialling down the display brightness.
The app has a few useful settings options. You can opt to display or hide apps that don't consume anything, change the statistics type displayed when you start up the app and determine what the WakeLock percentage information should reveal: standard battery life, active usage vs. hardware activity, etc.
Google Analytics becomes active right away, and if you wish to deactivate it you will have to do so via the settings. I always prefer to be prompted about whether or not a service becomes active, which is why I'm knocking off a star.
BetterBatteryStats is a great app for advanced users that want to get to the bottom of why their battery life is the way it is. We wouldn't necessarily recommend the app for newbie users, although if you want to see for yourself whether it's the right app for you you can always purchase it from the App Center and return it within 24 hours if ever it's not your cup of tea.
Screen & Controls
Unfortunately, BetterBatteryStats certainly hasn't been designed with newbie users in mind. While there is a help menu, it would've been so much easier to have tailored instructions for different points. Furthermore, too many features are hidden in the menu, meaning you won't find them unless you happen to peruse the menu. A lot of the abbreviations are a bit cryptic, especially for non-native English speakers.
Speed & Stability
BetterBatteryStats loads statistics quickly and efficiently and the app did not crash once throughout the test runs.
BetterBatteryStats costs EUR2 and can be downloaded from the App Center. The rpice is okay, but I would expect more intelligible explanations in the UI regarding the individual functions.