It's no secret that smartphones are notorious battery hogs, with some devices having an almost embarrassing screen-on time. Those big luscious AMOLED and LCD screens are an obvious drain on your battery, but did you know there's lots of things you can do behind the scenes to get the most out of your Android, particularly with Marshmallow on the horizon? Read on for our best battery saving tips to make your battery last longer.
How Android batteries work
First, some background: most smartphones have either a Lithium Ion battery or a Lithium Polymer battery. Both are Lithium Ion though, and as such, do not have a 'memory', which means you don't have to fully charge or discharge them at the beginning, and partial charging is fine throughout their life.
In fact, these types of batteries suffer from low voltage problems, so it's actually better to partially charge them (say, from 20 percent to 90 percent) than to fully charge and fully drain them. Battery care is always open for debate though, so for every accepted tip there will be someone that says it makes no difference. Just find the ones that work for you.
1. Black wallpaper can save battery
If your phone has an AMOLED screen (like most Samsung devices), use a dark-colored background. Black wallpaper can save your battery because AMOLED screens only illuminate the colored pixels. Black pixels are unlit, so the more black pixels you have, or the more darker pixels, the less battery you need to light them up.
With the arrival of Marshmallow comes a new feature called Doze, which helps you get more out of your device's battery. Along with Google Now on Tap, Doze is the most notable addition to Marshmallow. It is enabled by default and essentially allows your device to enter hibernation mode when it has been sat unused for a prolonged period of time.
What it means is that instead of your phone losing up to a quarter of its battery life while you yourself doze, your phone now gets some rest, too, losing only 3-5 percent of its battery life during the night.
Apps are not obliged to use Doze, but you can view which apps do and do not use it in the settings and remove them accordingly, if you want to.
In addition, Sony has said it's planning to incorporate its own enhanced stamina mode into Marshmallow on the Sony Xperia Z5.
3. Use dark themes and settings
Using darker app backgrounds/themes and darker launcher themes will further prolong your battery life (but only if your device has an AMOLED screen). The first version of the Android M developer preview had a stock dark theme (which was subsequently removed). This could means big things for system-wide stock theme support, if it returns in the final Android M release.
4. Don't use adaptive/auto brightness
Don't use display auto-brightness. It may sound good, but auto-brightness is usually way brighter than you really need. It's much better to manually set a super low brightness level that is still comfortable, and then just bump it up when necessary. This is one of the main ways to improve your battery life as the screen is one of the biggest battery suckers.
5. A shorter screen timeout setting saves battery
Set your display's screen timeout to as short a time as is practical for you. Just think, if your screen timeout is set to a minute, it'll use four times the amount of power to have it on, every time you switch your screen on, than if your timeout is set to 15 seconds.
Studies report the average smartphone user turns their smartphone on 150 times a day, so anything you can do to limit that frequency (through self-control or other methods listed below) will help keep your battery running for longer.
6. Your phone doesn't have to be smart all the time
Turn off smart features like air gestures, smart scrolling and the like, especially if you have a Samsung. Unless you really use these features every day, they're just using battery power for a feature you don't use.
7. Turn off vibrate and haptic feedback to save battery
Switch off vibrate. Unless you really need that added awareness, turn off vibration alerts for incoming calls. It actually takes more power to vibrate your phone than it does to ring it. Turn off haptic feedback too (that buzz you get from typing on the keyboard). Sure it feels cool, but it doesn't really add anything to your experience, and it's another battery drainer.
8. Use lock screen notifications
Lock screen notifications can also help save you battery life, especially if your phone has an AMOLED screen. This is because you can see your notifications at a glance without having to turn your whole screen on. This is especially useful if you get lots of notifications that aren't worth following up on immediately. Lock screen notifications come standard on Android Lollipop.
If you're using Android KitKat, try using lock screen widgets or notifications if your ROM supports them, or install an app that does it for you like Dynamic Notifications. You'll be able to get basically all your content without having to unlock your phone fully and navigating around. You'll still need to light your whole screen up, but you'll have it on for much less time than normal.DynamicNotifications
9. Only use original batteries
Only use original batteries or respected third party manufacturer batteries. Saving a few bucks on a battery that might damage your beloved smartphone is a poor choice indeed, and may also deliver sub-standard battery performance.
10. Set your ''Do Not Disturb'' or ''sleep'' schedule
Set ''sleep times'' or ''blocking mode'' to switch off Wi-Fi and mobile data when you don't need them. If your phone is basically off limits at work, set your device to not ring, vibrate or connect to the internet while you're at work. Many phones have a ''Do Not Disturb'' setting for just this purpose.
Likewise, you can set your phone to airplane mode when you're asleep or use sleep or blocking modes to set up limits for what your phone does during certain times of the day, whether that's while you're asleep, at work or in a meeting. Cool apps like IFTTT let you create rules that can help you save battery life too.IF by IFTTT
Get to know the specific settings your ROM offers. Not only will you have to fiddle with your phone less throughout the day (or night), but you'll be saving on battery life too. You can also use an app like Greenify to force certain battery-hogging apps to hibernate when you're not using them.Greenify
11. You don't need to be connected 24/7
Turn off GPS, Bluetooth, NFC, Wi-Fi and mobile data whenever you don't need them. Turning off location data, or changing your Location settings to use Wi-Fi or 3G data rather than GPS works perfectly well.
Only turn on Bluetooth and NFC as long as you need them (even though these consume very little power), and there's no need to have both Wi-Fi and mobile data turned on at all times, especially if you know exactly when you'll need one or the other.
If you use Wi-Fi a lot though, say at home and at work, then it makes sense to keep set your Wi-Fi to ''Always on during sleep'' as this uses less power than to have your Wi-Fi reconnecting every time you wake your phone.
12. Don't get bogged down by widgets
Ditch widgets you don't really need, especially those that are connected to the internet like weather widgets. If you have multiple widgets across several home screens that are constantly syncing and updating, like Twitter, reddit, weather, Gmail and more, you're not doing your battery any favors. Just hit the apps when you need them.
13. Don't let your apps fall behind the times
Keep your apps updated. There's a reason developers constantly update apps, and many of these reasons are memory and battery optimizations. Keeping your apps updated also means you have the best optimizations available. Likewise, delete old apps you no longer use, as these may be running background processes that chew up RAM and battery life.
14. Explore the battery saving features on your phone
All ROMs, whether it's stock Android, OEM UI's like TouchWiz or custom ROMs like CyanogenMod, have various settings in the menu to help conserve or optimize battery consumption here and there. HTC has Extreme Power Saving Mode, Samsung has Ultra Power Saving Mode, Sony has STAMINA mode and so on. Find these various options for your device and ROM and make them work for you.
15. Use your basic battery saving mode
Even if your phone doesn't have layers of battery saving features like some (or you simply don't want disable so many features), at least make use of the basic battery saver mode. Even stock Android Lollipop has it by default and Android M has the great Doze feature for less battery consumption while your phone is asleep.
16. Don't fall into the auto-sync trap
Turn off auto-syncing for Google accounts. If you don't need every single Google account updated every fifteen minutes, just go into your Settings and Google account and turn off auto-sync for those apps you don't need constantly updated.
Some apps - like email - let you manually refresh when you launch them, rather than multiple times throughout the day when you may not need them to. The same goes for Twitter, reddit and co. Unless you need constant updates or push notifications (like for Facebook or your calendar) just sync when you actually use the app.
17. Manually update apps when it's convenient for you
If you're concerned about conserving battery life, the last thing you want to see is a whole slew of apps automatically updating. Just take a look at the screenshot below: if this happened when you were running low on juice you'd be int rouble. You'd also have no data left. You can manage your app auto-updates in the Play Store settings or individually for each app.
18. Turn off Google hotwords
Stop your phone from always listening. Google's "Ok Google" voice searching is a fantastic and often very functional feature. The problem is that it can play havoc with your battery. Especially if you don't actually use it or only use it occasionally.
Go into "Google settings" from your app drawer and tap the "voice" heading. On the next page, select '"Ok Google' detection". In this menu, the best option for battery life would be to untick all those that are boxed, but if you are a fan of "Ok Google", tick only the "From the Google app" box to ensure your device is only listening when you're in the Google app.
19. Don't be so mobile obsessed
This may sound weird, but because the screen is the biggest battery sucker on any Android, not turning your phone on as much is the best thing for your battery. I'm not saying to never check your phone, but do you really need to check it every ten minutes? Probably not. Try to exercise a little restraint throughout the day and watch your battery life grow.
Did we miss anything? What are your best battery saving tips?