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How to save battery life on your Android device

Authored by: Kris Carlon — 2 months ago

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? Read on for our best battery saving tips to make your battery last longer.

samsung galaxy s5 battery
The battery is the biggest part of a smartphone in more ways than one. / © ANDROIDPIT

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.

Link to video

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.

2. 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.

androidpit android m dark theme
Will we see a system-wide dark theme in the final Android M release? / © ANDROIDPIT

3. 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.

4. 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.

androidpit battery automatic brightness sleep
Avoid adaptive/auto brightness (left) and shorten your screen timeout/sleep setting.  / © ANDROIDPIT

5. 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.

6. 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.

AndroidPIT LG G4 Lollipop vibration
You won't even notice that vibration and haptic feedback are gone after a few days. / © ANDROIDPIT

7. 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 Install on Google Play

8. 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.

de teaser
Stick with OEM or respected third party batteries rather than dodgy cheap ones. / © ANDROIDPIT

9. 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 Install on Google Play

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 Install on Google Play
AndroidPIT LG G4 Lollipop downtime do not disturb
Many phones let you set ''downtime'', ''sleep'' or priority interruptions only'' schedules. / © ANDROIDPIT

10. 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.

AndroidPIT Lollipop quick settings location battery saver
Make use of the Airplane Mode and Data toggles in Quick Settings (left) and use the battery saving mode for Location. / © ANDROIDPIT

11. 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.

12. 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.

AndroidPIT do not auto update apps
Keeping your apps updated means you're less likely to have bad app performance chewing up battery. / © ANDROIDPIT

13. 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.

14. 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. 

AndroidPIT Mlais M7 Lollipop battery saver standby intelligent battery
Check the box for any power saving mode (left) and enable Battery Saver for critical moments. / © ANDROIDPIT

15. 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.

16. 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.

Screenshot 2013 10 24 02 17 37
Massive updates like this when you're low on battery are a killer. / © ANDROIDPIT


17. 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. 

18. 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?

Kris Carlon comes to the AndroidPIT Editorial Team via a lengthy period spent traveling and relying on technology to keep him in touch with the outside world. He joined the Android community while resurfacing in civilization back in 2010 and has never looked back, using technology to replace his actual presence in other people's lives ever since. He can usually be found juggling three phones at once and poring over G+ posts, Reddit and RSS feeds.


Write new comment:
  • Ilian Iliev 5 days ago Link to comment

    These really help, however, you can increase your battery life even more by using 2 apps. More details here: fivestar-techreviews[.]com/2-apps-that-will-significantly-increase-your-battery-life .

    Edit: Since new users can't post links, just remove the [ ] . Hope I helped!

  • legoman EightEightSevenSeven 5 days ago Link to comment

    I use LEAN DROID on unrooted device to turn WiFi Bluetooth and data off/on as and when required this saves lots of power. Another tip to save lots of power is to buy a Samsung gear s or other smart watch to check your notifications send emails and texts and make phone calls.

  • Katrina Ooms 1 week ago Link to comment

    I used to use Juice Defender and loved it. But it doesn't work with Lollipop (it also hasn't been updated in eons) . I liked the control it gave me over WiFi and mobile data. Has anyone found a good alternative?

  • Shehroz Malik 1 month ago Link to comment

    guys check this BEST CPU OPTIMIZER. i am using it and its very light and effective.

  • Viktor jovanović v. 1 month ago Link to comment

    Thank's for your instrucions; I followed it and my battery last much more long

  • Saidur Rahman 1 month ago Link to comment

    My battery loses most of the charge because of my wifi. I was searching how can I manage my wifi to save the battery. I found a solution here

  • Joseph Bonaobra 1 month ago Link to comment

    Mine eats the battery when its in sleep mode. Battery stats say 50-70% is caused by Phone Idle. Dunno what to do.. :(

  • Esha 2 months ago Link to comment

    But mine is dead, I am charging it but it doesn't come back on. Someone help

    • Kefla Randall 2 months ago Link to comment

      Hold the power and up button for a few seconds a screen should appear hit the up button and it should turn back on

  • SAAS 2 months ago Link to comment

    I have Samsungs Note 2 and Note 4 phones. The newer Note 4 is primarily work related only hence always used with care to preserve battery. For the Note 2, i purchased a 10,000mah battery which can last me 2 days on heavy use (incl games) and on basic use possibly 3-4 days. Its a true life saver

    Downside, large battery means say goodbye to the phones slick and slim look but for me personally its a worthy sacrifice

  • Kevin G. 2 months ago Link to comment

    So basically your saying "you have a great smartphone with lots of features - so turn all those off - use only the basics"

    My battery usage is quite good, combined with wireless charging (which stops the phone from using power rather than properly charging it).

    If you like the added features, which I do then the offset is charging more often.

    • Charles Pratley-Smith 2 months ago Link to comment

      Simple as that

    • SAAS 2 months ago Link to comment

      Kevin, its rather simple, I like a few of the features which are constantly turned off and only made active when required. Most of my family members complain about the battery life but after checking their phones its evident they leave most features on. My dads phone has his Wifi on literally 24 hours a day and only recently he's started turning certain features off when not in use, esp. wifi, mobile data, Bluetooth, location, etc and now seeing a significant difference. In the end, its a smartphone and with a smart user, we can get the best out of it.

      For the better part, I too wonder when the tech world will develop a battery which can last us days or weeks.....until that happens stay smart, stay Android :P

  • Helen Prescott 2 months ago Link to comment

    Indeed, these are the tips and tricks we need in order to prolong the battery life of our smartphones. We really need them especially if we are always on the go and forget to bring our chargers.

  • Pete H 3 months ago Link to comment

    My ZTE ZMax has a 3,400 may battery and I average about 18 - 24 hours of use per charge. Streaming Video, Audio, Talk time, etc...

    Are any of the Battery Apps on the Play Store useful or just "Snake Oil?"

  • Gary Bell 3 months ago Link to comment

    Can someone elaborate about the screen timeout? Is it better to have a higher timeout time because it uses more battery every time the screen turns on? I was a little confused by that section. Thanks.

    • Daryl 2 months ago Link to comment

      Hi Gary,

      In terms of preserving battery life, it's best to set the screen timeout to the shortest time possible (e.g. 10 or 15 seconds).The longer the timeout, the more battery your phone will consume.

      For simplicity, if we assume that a user switches on their phone 150 times a day, a 10 second timeout will consume 25 minutes worth of battery, whereas a 60 second timeout will consume 2 hours and 30 minutes of battery. It must be noted that the section assumes that a user would always let the screen timeout, rather than manually switching it off once they have finished using the phone.

  • Robert Rollo 4 months ago Link to comment

    My LG phone, 24hrs @ best, solution change from Very expensive leather case, the magnetic clip on the case was the culprit.

    • Donna Lehr 3 months ago Link to comment

      I had the same problem. The circle case I bought for a brand new phone very quickly drained the battery and it would not charge right either unless you took it out of the case.

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