Battery life is a big topic in the smartphone world, and whether you’re rocking an Android device, an iPhone, or a Windows Phone, it can be pretty difficult to get a full day's charge out of high end smartphones. For the past week, I have noticed HUGE battery drains on my Galaxy Nexus, and after doing some research on why it might be happening, I discovered 5 things I was unknowingly doing that were absolutely killing my battery.
Bright wallpapers are KILLING your battery
Over the past week, I noticed that my phone was literally getting about 2.5 - 4 hours less battery life than usual. So I decided to figure out why, and after carefully analyzing a lot of the apps I have installed and doing some research on forums, I made a startling discovery as to why my battery was having such heavy drain: my white wallpaper/theme.
My Galaxy Nexus is rooted, and one week ago I decided to try a new ROM called “Bugless Beast” (amazing ROM). The ROM also happened to have a very cool theme that you could flash over top of it that basically made a big portion of the UI white instead of black. It looked great! But then the drain started to occur. I analyzed apps, monitored my already overclocked CPU, undervolted, but noticed that nothing was out of the norm (and that the battery drain remained).
Then I stumbled upon a forum with Android users discussing battery life, and ran across this great article. To sum it up, the article basically breaks down tip for tap how that if your device has an OLED, AMOLED, or Super AMOLED display, that bright wallpapers and bright themes are literally sucking a whopping TWENTY PERCENT off your battery life. This won’t affect LCD screens so much, but since OLED displays use Organic Light Emitting Diode’s (and consume less energy overall when displaying dark colors) that create their own light vs the backlight used for LCD screens, lowering the amount of pixels your screen uses can have a really big impact on your battery. So I bascially changed my screen/theme from this:
And inverted it back to this:
And man oh man has it made a difference. My battery is literally lasting me almost 3 to 4 hours a day more (I am not making this up!). So if you have white/bright colored wallpaper with any type of OLED display, consider switching it to a darker one to optimize battery life. The same applies for apps as well. If you can choose between a bright or dark theme, go dark if you care about your battery life! This is easily my number 1 tip, and I am still shocked about how much of a difference it has made.
Disable Adobe Flash (or set to on demand if your browser supports it)
I must admit that as much as I love being able to use Flash on my phone and tablet, that I never really considered how much juice was being sucked away every time Flash is loading up all those advertisements and video content on pages I visit. If your browser supports “on demand” plugins, I highly encourage you to use this setting or to disable Flash from your browser all together when you don't need it. When it’s needed, simply turn it on in your browser. But if you’re not using it, you’ll be surprised how much it’s hurting your battery life.
Turn off vibration
I have always liked the fact that when I type on my phone, I get a vibration effect when pressing the keys. Well it turns out that this very effect also hits the battery a lot harder than I thought, as the energy needed for the phone to produce the vibration whenever typing or registering touches isn't coming from nothing. So if you are really looking for some extra juice, go into settings-sound, and disable “vibrate on touch” (I still leave vibrate when ringing on. Then go to settings-language&input, choose the keyboard you use, and disable “vibrate on keypress”. Your battery will thank you for it.
Charge your phone at the correct room temperature
It’s summer time, it’s hot, and the last thing most people are probably thinking about before hitting the beach is their phone lasting the entire day. The fact of the matter is that if you’re charging your phone in a room that’s too hot, the heat can affect your phone as a whole, along with the amount of charge. If it’s too cold, you will also see a significant drain. Ideally, charge your phone in rooms that are between 15 degrees and 25 degrees Celsius (between 59 and 82 degrees fahrenheit). It may sound silly, but it will make a difference. So think twice before charging your phone from your hot car's cigarette lighter before hitting the beach!
Keep your apps updated
Developers don’t just push out weekly updates to their apps for no reason. When they optimize/bugfix their apps, they often make changes that also make them more power efficient, and are a big factor in maximizing your battery. So if you’ve been too lazy to press that “update” button for all your apps in the Google Play store, chances are good that your battery is taking a hit because of it.
Things to remember
These are 5 tips that I have personally noticed making a big difference on my battery, and I can’t stress enough how much of a difference they will make for you (especially the bright wallpapers!). Managing how often your widgets update (I have over 21 widgets on 5 screens, and you can probably imagine how hard my battery takes a hit if they all refresh every hour) your sync settings on apps (does your Facebook really need to auto refresh every hour?), and your wifi/data connection are also very very important to manage, but the tips in this article were some that I was very much guilty of overlooking and wanted to share.
I hope the tips help you as much as they have helped me, and let us know if you have additional suggestions for keeping battery life high!
Credits to Steve Mould for his great article on how bright wallpapers affect battery, and credits to thehightechhippie.com for the additional suggestions on Flash and keeping apps updated.
Picture credit for intro picture - www.knowyourcell.com. screenshots from my Galaxy Nexus