Stop complaining about the battery life of your Android phone and do something about it. Here’s the biggest, most comprehensive guide to reducing battery drain and making your phone last longer.
Lots of people complain about the poor battery life of their Android phone, but not every does. Why not? They know the secrets to extending battery life and here are the best ways to save power and get more hours out of your device.
Not one of these tips on there own will save a lot of battery life, but the effect is cumulative. Each one saves a little battery power by itself and the total saving of them all is significant. You could increase the time the phone runs on the battery by several hours. It might even last all day!
Most of the following tips apply to most Android phones, but there are many different models of phone and several versions of Android, so you might not be able to apply every single tip.
The differences in phones and Android versions means that the menus on your device might be different to those here. You might need to hunt around for the right settings on your phone. The examples use a Samsung Galaxy S6 running Android 6.
1 Lower the screen brightness
Phone screens are lovely when you turn up the brightness and the colours really pop out at you. However, increasing the screen brightness also decreases the battery life. Bright screens need more power.
Often the screen is the item that uses the most battery and it can even use more than apps. Turn down the brightness and the power consumption is reduced. This enables the battery to last longer. Pull down from the top and drag the brightness slider to adjust it.
2 Stop app updates
Downloading apps and installing them takes a lot of processing power and it should therefore be avoided when you want to save power.
Avoiding downloading apps yourself isn’t the issue and it is the automatic update of apps. Most phones have dozens of apps and some are updated as often as every couple of weeks. This means that almost every day, one app or another on the phone will be updated.
Open the Play Store app, press the menu button and then tap Settings. Press Auto-update apps and select the option Do not auto-update apps. This puts updates under your control.
When you connect the phone to the charger, just open the Play Store app, open the menu and select My apps & games. It lists the app updates and you can update them all with one tap while the phone is charging.
3 Stop or reduce notifications
If you let it, your phone will pester you with a never-ending stream of notifications. Almost every type of app provides some sort of notifications and social media ones are among the worst offenders.
Stop notifications or at least reduce them to increase battery life. Notifications may turn on the screen to display them, so eliminating as many as you can reduce battery drain.
There are a couple of ways to do this and one way is to go to Settings > Application Manager. Tap an app, tap Notifications, and turn them off. Repeat this for all apps you can live without. You will want to leave on apps like email and messaging, but games, social media and other apps are not important, so disable them.
That is quite a tediously slow way to set notifications and a better way is to go to Settings > Notifications and use the switches to disable apps.
4 Replace the battery
Some phones have back covers that can be removed and then the battery can be easily be accessed and removed. If your phone is more than two years old and the battery can easily be reached, replace it with a new one.
The maximum charge that a battery can hold falls with age. After a couple of years it might hold just 90% or even 80% of its original charge. Replacing the battery with a new one brings this back up to 100%. New batteries last longer than old ones.
Some phones are sealed units that are very difficult to open and there isn’t much you can do about changing the battery.
5 Uninstall apps
Each app that is installed consumes the battery power. Some use a little, but some use a lot. Each app that is uninstalled lightens the load on the system, reduces the amount of work it must do, and increases the battery life.
Go to Settings > Application Manager and see if there are any apps you don’t use. Even if you use them all, are there some you can live without?
The Facebook app is great, but you might be able to manage without it. Just open a browser and go to facebook.com and it looks remarkably similar. Nearly all of the features of the mobile app can be accessed from the browser.
Twitter is the same. The app is nice, but the website in a browser is pretty good and deleting the app increases the battery life.
6 Restart the phone
Apps contain bugs and flaws. If you haven’t found any yourself, just read the ‘what’s new’ notes on app updates. Most updates contain bug fixes and sometimes only bug fixes.
Bugs in apps can cause them to behave erratically and when they do, they sometimes use a lot of battery power. If the battery is draining fast and you know which app it is, you can force stop it. Go to Settings > Application Manager > App name. There’s a button to Force Stop it.
If you don’t know why the battery is running down so fast, restart the phone. Hold down the power button and then press Restart, or Shut Down.
It takes some battery power to reboot a phone, so there is a short term loss, but there are long term gains if the buggy app is closed.
7 Stop checking email, social media
Email apps, social media apps, messaging apps, and other apps frequently check for updates. They check for new emails, new messages, new posts from friends or people you follow and so on.
The more frequently they run, the faster the battery will run out. Setting a longer time between update checks or even stopping them altogether will conserve battery power.
Whether you can change the update frequency and how you do it depends on the app and each one is different.
An app can check for messages and status updates itself or an online service can push them to the app. If an app checks every 15 minutes for new items, set it to check every hour instead. If it uses push notifications, check the settings and reduce the number of items that get pushed to the phone.
8 Disable live wallpaper
There are some fantastic animated wallpaper images for Android and the phone’s home screen can look amazing. However, processing time and memory are required to display the animated image and this requires battery power.
A static image on the home screen requires less battery power than an animated one.
Setting the wallpaper may vary, but try pressing and holding on an empty space on the home screen. This might display a menu with Wallpaper as one of the options.
There might be an option to reduce motion or to select a graphical theme. Select a theme with a static background.
9 Delete home screen widgets
Home screen widgets are one of the key differences between Android and iOS phones. They are a brilliant way to present snippets of information, status updates, news, weather updates and shortcuts to apps and functions.
They also drain the battery.
Shortcuts to open apps are OK and it is the widgets that refresh and update information that are the problem. They use too much power.
Remove all the widgets you can live without. Do you really need that huge weather forecast on the home screen? Trash it because you can always run a weather app to check the weather.
10 Reduce screen timeout
The screen remains on when the phone is put down, but if you don’t use it again the display will eventually turn off automatically. Reducing the time the screen stays on will save battery power and it should be as short as is convenient.
Go to Settings > Display > Screen timeout. The options range from 15 seconds to 10 minutes.
The 15 seconds timeout is inconvenient if the phone locks straight away when the screen turns off. Stop what you are doing for 15 seconds and the phone is locked and it is a pain unlocking it. Choose as short a timeout as you can without it becoming irritating.
11 Set power saving mode
Your phone may have a special power saving mode. It might even have two. This can vary from model to model, but if your phone has it, then use it.
Power saving mode limits the CPU speed and may limit the activity of apps, such as not allowing them to run in the background so often. It affects the phone’s performance, but it might not be noticeable and it is something you should try and see if you can live with.
On some Samsung phones, pull down from the top and swipe left and right across the tray of icons. There is Power Saving and U. Power Saving (ultra power saving).
Choose Power Saving for everyday use and U. Power Saving, which is pretty extreme, only in emergencies when your phone is below 20% battery and you need to get the maximum amount of time from the remaining charge.
U. Power Saving has amazing battery life, but phone functions are severely limited. For example, the screen is black and white and certain features and functions are disabled.
12 Put the phone in flight mode
Flight mode isn’t just for when you are flying on a plane and it is a great way to save power. It turns off the cellular wireless, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
This is responsible for some of the power savings, but other savings come from preventing apps from updating, checking for notifications and status updates, messages, emails and so on. Without internet access, many apps have little to do and that saves power.
Put the phone into flight mode whenever you do not need to be contactable. The best example is at night when you are asleep. Turn on flight mode when you get into bed and turn it back on when you wake up.
Not only will you not be disturbed by notification sounds, you will find that the battery drain overnight is tiny. It can be as little as 2 to 3%.
Use it during the day when you are in meetings, out in the country where there are poor mobile signals, and so on.
13 Use black wallpaper
It may be surprising to learn, but if the home screen wallpaper image is set to black, the battery will last longer. Why?
Some phones produce the image you see on the screen by activating tiny components or elements. When they are inactive they are black. In other words, when they are not powered, they are black. No power means no battery use.
Ultra Power Saving on Samsung phones switches to a black screen with white writing and icons for this reason.
Long press on an empty space on the home screen and select the option to change the wallpaper or theme. Select one with a black background. You might need to find a wallpaper image or theme online. You could cover the camera lens and take a photo, which will come out black, and then select that for the background.
14 Turn off Bluetooth
If you use Bluetooth accessories then this isn’t an option, but many people don’t use them and still have Bluetooth turned on, which drains the battery. It is used to create low power wireless connections between devices, but no power is better than low power.
Turn off Bluetooth in Settings > Bluetooth to save power.
15 Disable vibration and haptic feedback
It can be useful to have the phone vibrate whenever there is a phone call or notification. If the phone sound is muted for example, or if your hearing isn’t so good, it can make you aware that something requires your attention.
Can you live without vibration? If you can, it will save battery life.
Go to Settings > Sounds and vibration. Turn off Vibrate while ringing. There may be other options for vibrations that can be disabled too.
Haptic feedback is the use of vibration when using the phone’s interface. For example, there may be a Vibration feedback option in Settings > Sounds and vibration. The phone will vibrate when typing using the keyboard and other buttons for example.
Disable it and the battery will last longer.
Some apps have their own vibration settings. For example, Facebook messenger has an option in its settings to vibrate whenever there is a notification, such as a new message.
Open Messenger and press the Me icon in the top right corner. Press Notifications & Sounds and then turn off vibration. If you notice other apps vibrating, check the app settings for an option to disable it.
16 Turn off sounds
In the same Settings > Sounds and vibration section are options to play sounds when certain events occur. For example, there is Touch Sounds and this causes a sound to be played when making screen selections. Disable it to save power.
A sound can be played when locking or unlocking the screen. That’s nice, but the battery will last longer if you disable this. Do you need the phone to play sounds when typing using the onscreen keyboard? Turn off the sound effects.
Some apps have optional sounds for certain events or actions. Press a button or perform an action and a sound effect might be played. Is it useful or can you live without them?
Here’s an example. Open Facebook Messenger and press the Me icon in the top right corner. Press Notifications & Sounds and then turn off In-app sounds.
17 Turn off NFC
NFC is a wireless technology for connecting devices and exchanging information between them. It is used by contactless payment systems, such as Android Pay.
If you use Android Pay to buy goods in stores then NFC must be turned on or it will not work. However, if you don’t use Android Pay then turn it off in Settings. It will save a tiny bit of power.
18 Use ad-free apps
Advertising is used to support free apps and you get an app for nothing and the developer gets paid every time you view or tap an ad.
Adverts must be downloaded from the internet, must be displayed on the screen, and are often animated. This process costs CPU time, wireless time and battery power.
Paid apps do not have advertising and so they may use less battery power. Without the animated ads cluttering up the screen the app is both nicer to use and lighter on the battery. Pay for your apps to menable the battery to last longer.
19 Disable location services
Location services include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, mobile networks and GPS. Using these, an app can work out where in the world you are. Google Maps uses it to find your location, provide driving directions and so on. It would not work without them.
However, if you aren’t using apps that need to know your location, then turning off location services will reduce battery drain on your phone.
Each of the technologies listed can be individually turned on or off and you can keep location services on, but reduce the battery drain by limiting which ones are used.
Go to Settings > Privacy and safety > Location. Turn it off if no apps need to know your location.
If you must have location services on, press Locating method and there are three options with the most accurate and power hungry at the top. Choose Wi-Fi and mobile networks, or GPS only to reduce the power usage.
There is also an option to Improve accuracy in Settings > Privacy and safety > Location. Wi-Fi scanning increases accuracy, but it runs even when Wi-Fi is turned off. It is the same with Bluetooth and both of these options increase accuracy, but use more power. Turn them off to reduce battery drain.
20 Enable app power saving / doze
When the phone is not being used, the screen is off and it is running on the battery, Android 6 and 7 can put apps to sleep. It temporarily suspends them so that they don’t run and they don’t use the battery unnecessarily.
Every so often, Android will wake the apps so they can perform essential tasks, such as checking for status updates. Most of the time they are suspended. It is called Doze mode and apps take a nap.
To tweak Doze go to Settings > Battery > Battery Usage > More > Optimise battery usage. There are two views - Apps not optimised, and All apps. Check the list of apps that are not optimised and turn on the switch if you want to suspend them when the screen is off.
Samsung phones have an additional power saving setting. Go to Settings > Battery and press press DETAIL under App power saving. Turn it on to save power. This feature monitors apps and any that have not been used for more than three days are set to save power. Basically they are suspended.
21 Disable Wi-Fi
This is a simple one and if you are not using Wi-Fi, then turn it off. Anything you can disable or turn off will save power. It takes only a second to pull down from the top and tap the Wi-Fi icon to turn it off.
22 Stop syncing so often
Android and some apps sync information. Reducing the sync frequency or turning it off means less work for the phone and less power consumed.
Here is an example. Open the Twitter app, tap your image in the top left corner, tap Settings and then Notifications. Press Advanced and the Sync interval. The options range from every five minutes to daily. The longer the interval the less battery is used. The time is up to you. Try lengthening it and seeing if it makes any difference to you.
Go to Settings > Accounts > More > Disable auto-sync on your phone. This stops apps syncing automatically and saves battery power.
However, it may be more trouble than it is worth because essential accounts like Gmail, Calendar, Contacts and others are not kept in sync with online data. It would be a pain to have to select each app and sync manually. Use it only in emergencies when the battery level is really low.
So there you have it. The ultimate guide to saving power, reducing battery drain and extending the life of your Android phone. With these tips you could get several hours more on your phone. It might even last all day!
Or... you could buy an iPhone (only kidding, maybe).
- Written by Roland Waddilove
- Created: 06 February 2017