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How to Save Battery Life with Android Apps

How to Save Battery Life with Android Apps

One of the biggest complaints about current smartphones is that the batteries can’t keep up with the level of usage we all need on a daily basis. As smartphones continue to have bigger screens, more advanced graphics, and a greater variety of services, you’ll need the following tips and tricks to save battery life so that you can enjoy your Android phone throughout the day.

1.  Manage Running Apps

This is one area where you can see large returns not only on your battery life but also your phone’s overall performance. One of the greatest features of Android is multitasking, which allows multiple apps to run at once for quick switching between them. However, this is often a double-edged sword, as many times apps that you no longer need will continue to run in the background, draining the battery.

Essential Apps

  • Advanced Task Manager (or Advanced Task Killer) – These apps will show you which apps are currently running in the background and will give you the option to end/kill them. Exclude apps that push important notifications like gmail, twitter, and your sms client. Make sure to use these apps widgets for quick task ending.

2.  Manage Hardware Settings

Hardware settings are often an unseen and unknown battery killer. Your phone may be auto-syncing, searching for WiFi access points, or tracking location with GPS even when you are not using it. Monitoring these settings will greatly benefit your Android phone’s battery life.

Essential Apps

  • Quick SettingsThis app will allow you to quickly toggle the most important settings including WiFi, Bluetooth, Screen Brightness, Screen Timeout, GPS, and Auto Sync.

  • Screebl – Auto-control Screen Timeout based on phone orientation and usage.

  • JuiceDefender – When your phone is not in use, this app controls the interval of background data syncing (data connection and/or WiFi). Longer intervals mean less battery usage (but also means you’ll have to wait longer for those notifications).

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  1. Best tip: => Get Froyo. I’m currently using a2.2 FRF72 it has radically improved the uptime of my nexus one from a single power charge. Used to be lucky if device would last 8 hours and had to turn off every radio I could find to make it last the daY. Froyo makes it much more useable by automatically turning off GPS when it isn’t needed by an app. I can now enable sync ALL DAY. And even leave my Dec on 3G network mode. Froyo rocks. It is the single best power management step you can take if it is available for your device.

    • I wish I had Froyo! Hopefully soon enough we’ll all be running 2.2+ and see the battery improvements you are :)

  2. You people need to STOP RECOMMENDING task KILLERS!!!! Android handles applications quite well by itself. As long as the dev’s do their jobs while making apps, task killers are not needed!! They waste more battery by just being another process that runs in the background. Geez… Who the hell hires these people that write for you? Its like they KNOW NOTHING about how the Android OS works.


    • By what you’ve stated, I’d have to argue then that many developers aren’t doing their job about killing their applications when they are exited. I know for a fact that my phone performs better and the battery lasts longer when I use a task killer. I don’t think these two recommended task killer apps would be as popular as they are if they were counterproductive. Plus, they end themselves when they are done and don’t run in the background.

      • Many people still use AOL to gain access to the internet. Many people click on ridiculous advertisements, or respond to spoof emails and thus have their identities stolen. Many people do alot of dumb things. My point is, that just because alot of people recommend something, or are using a particular product doesn’t mean that it’s right or smart.

        Task killers give people a false sense of hope (which they so desperately need), and potentially do more damage than they are worth.

        Chris explains they “whys and what nots” quite well, and I see you have responded graciously, but I can understand Beesley’s frustration. Task Killers are simply not the answer to battery life, and too many people are on this bandwagon. Sadly enough, even the employees at a given phone company will tell you to install this utter garbage.

        If it makes you feel like your saving your battery, fine, but please don’t perpetuate this madness!

        • As somone who has gone from an iPhone4 to the Inspire 4G I am noticing a difference in battery life performance. It would be nice if you did not have to sit and monitor how your phone uses resources. I did try a Samsung Captivate and ABSOLUTELY hated it. The Inspire 4G with Froyo is much better but I turned on my phone at 7 this morning and here at 1:56PM it’s at 11% battery. I haven’t been using it that much today.

          I just wish that I didn’t have to sit down and try to figure out what app is doing what, what I need to turn off, etc.

          Is Gingerbread even better with battery performance?

  3. As an app developer, Android does handle applications very efficiently and a task killer is not necessary. Interestingly, the image you posted of the task killer also indicates that it is set to kill Screebl Lite, which you later list as an essential application.

    Android kills services when it needs to, i.e, when resources are running low. In fact, in a lot of cases, the processes that you see “running” are actually just suspended and not using up any resources – by killing them manually, you are actually hurting performance because they can’t resume quickly when you need them because they have to restart the entire process, slowing the phone down and making the processor work harder, reducing battery life.

    Furthermore, you state, “Exclude apps that push important notifications like gmail, twitter, and your sms client.” Actually, these are exactly the types of apps that kill battery life precisely because they are constantly updating. News feeds, weather widgets, twitter feeds, email updates etc. are notoriously bad for battery life. The first step is to minimize how often they are updating. Do you really need twitter updates every minute or two? How about weather updates every 30 minutes? Constant news feeds?

    Make these update at more reasonable intervals and it will dramatically help with your battery life.

    Certainly, there are apps that are poorly written and do drain battery life or impact the phone’s performance. If the app includes settings that you can manually change to reduce the impact, then make those changes. However, if it is just a poorly written app and no amount of changing the settings fixes the problem, get rid of it. Just because you have a poorly written app is no reason to start messing with the OS and everything it is trying to do efficiently when it isn’t the problem. It’s like having a splinter in your finger and cutting off your hand when the easier solution is to get rid of the splinter.

    When I first got my Android phone, and before I was developing apps, I had advanced task killer. However, once I did some more research and figured out how the Android OS works, I realized it wasn’t necessary. My phone’s performance and battery life has never been better. You are constantly having to use the Advanced Task Killer precisely because it is killing processes which are likely in a suspended state, not impacting performance/battery life, and in a position to easily resume. Once you kill them, they HAVE to completely restart/reload, which then slows down the performance of the phone and impacts battery life.

    Give it a try and stop using a task killer. If you are experiencing issues, figure out which apps are causing the issues. You can use Spare Parts to determine which apps are using up your battery power and CPU. If you notice any that are out of whack, fix that application’s settings or get rid of it. Your battery life and phone’s performance will both increase over the next week or so.

    • Thanks for the great comment Chris. Your recommendation to reduce the intervals at which certain apps check for updates (e.g Twitter or weather) is definitely great advice and should be the first step anyone should take to improve battery performance.

      I’m hoping that as apps and developers become more experienced and skilled with Android, battery issues will be alleviated. In terms of task managers, maybe a better recommendation to Android users would be to carefully manage the apps they do install and how they affect battery life. Being conscious of the quality and energy resources required of apps would be more beneficial than killing and restarting apps as you pointed out.

  4. For those that insist that task killers are not necessary:
    True … the memory management is very good on Android. HOWEVER … task-killers are an essential part of my battery management because it stops background services that use data. I spend most of my day in a concrete building that interferes with my signal strength. Having services/apps like Amazon MP3 (can’t figure out WHY this keeps automatically turning on), News and Weather (turns on when in my charging cradle but continues to pop up after I remove it unless I restart), and Market (which automatically checks for updates even though I have specified NOT to check for them) try to connect on a poor signal really, really is a huge drain on my battery.

    I still prefer to have these services, auto-killed whenever possible even when my reception is perfect. When I need an update… I do it manually.

    • You can use an app that will instead turn off your G3 or data connection. Wouldn’t that make more sense? Just turn it on when you need it (Quick Settings is one such app, but there are others out there)

  5. For the record … I only started using a taskkiller when my battery life took a steep drop suddenly. That’s when I found out that News and Weather and Amazon MP3 was the culprit. My battery life after about 16 hours has increased by 25%.

  6. @Beesly I respect your opinion but I think your logic is leaning on a half truth. Yes, android does a very good job managing its tasks (it has its own task killer). However, there is no formal way of closing a task in android. Tasks get opened and simply dont get closed (at least until a certain memory threshold is passed). If you have a nexus one its not a problem but if you have limited RAM (G1 anyone!) then its a big problem. Its absolutely necessary, it can increase battery life by at least 15-25% and results in smoother operation. In fact the best task killers actually tweak the Android’s memory management system itself (Auto Memory Manager).
    I think you should do your research before you start bashing people. With all do respect.

    • @epolaris1 G1 is still my phone of a choice as well, and monitoring my running tasks definitely helps performance/battery life. I agree with you that newer, more powerful Android devices wouldn’t benefit to the same extent older ones do.

      • @Beesly That’s what I mean. Devices with limited resources need at the very least a task manager, so they can manipulate as well as kill tasks. Devices like the G1 that don’t have a lot of RAM are very susceptible to memory bottlenecks which will cause Android itself to stutter. It depends on your usage habits too. The G1 under mild usage works flawlessly but if there is a lot of heavy multitasking with with apps that eat large chunks of RAM, android will stutter. It can potentially get worse with rooting your device. With 16GB/32GB cards, you can have hundreds of apps that can all potentially put themselves in startup and eat up even more RAM — We haven’t even started on widgets and the services that run behind them. Without the right tools, its possible for Android to bottleneck into oblivion — with apps and widgets constantly ending prematurely.
        That’s why these days you never see devices use anything less than 256MB of RAM. They figured that out on G1 users heads, which by the way has 192MB of RAM which means your left with about 32MB with nothing installed!. I agree with your dislike of standalone Task Killers, I do appreciate Task Managers though, and the one suggested in this article is actually one of the best of them (IMO). You should really consider using Auto Memory Manger as well. Which allows you to tweak the Android memory management system to your usage habits. I requires a little more understanding on how apps work and Android memory management in general but, once you understand how to use it, its literally a set it and forget scenario. Just let android do the task killing/managing once your done. It can also benefit high end devices like the nexus one as well.
        At the end of the day though, with RAM and ROM going upwards on even the newer low end devices, truthfully, all this is just for the tweakers among us ( which a lot of android users just happen to be :) ), and probably won’t even be really necessary in the next couple years.

  7. I’ve found Refine Efficiency more powerful than Advanced Task Killer. It has several often used functions like clean cache, market history, startup manager. Unfortunately some of them require device rooted.

  8. First off anyone who doesn’t have Froyo needs a task killer. Android 2.1 and lower do not kill any apps automatically and developers know this. They don’t want you to install a task killer because they want their app to constantly be running collecting data so they can be making non stop profit.

    I also know for a fact anyone running 2.1 or lower will save battery if they use a task killer properly because running apps suck up memory and battery. If you aren’t using them at the time, it’s best killing them to save memory and battery.

    Also ATK does not kill itself automatically by default. It is set to stay in the statusbar by default. You must uncheck that option.

    I find ATK set to kill apps with the screen off combined with JuiceDefender to be the best way to conserve battery. Just remember ATK does take up a lot of battery too. (of the 10 apps sucking up the most battery in 8 hours, ATK accounted for 4% of that battery). However it can save more by killing a ton of apps. Just make sure you don’t over use it.

    • Thanks a lot for a helpful advice, Matt!

  9. I see alot of comments about Task Killers not using much power and auto killing themselves. The fact of the matter is, Task Killers do no good unless they are actively running and using resources. The most effective way of controlling your device completely is to root the device and then install programs that truly affect the power consumption like SetCPU and such.

    The problem is most carriers frown upon rooting as it gives novice users way to many ways to screw up their devices and possibly their networks. You can slow the device – creating lag, but saving power. You can drop the screen brightness – saving power but making it harder to read. You can turn off the GPS/WiFi/4G – but that defeats the functionality of the device on a whole.

    What needs to happen is that the power controls of the individual devices need to be set up to handle their demands – or they need to develop a more compact battery that can deliver more power – over longer periods of time. When I say set up the power controls, why isn’t an App like SetCPU part of the core Android functions?

    Let the user select – Extreme Power Saver: Phone only, slower processor and dim screen – Power Saver: slower processing/dimmer screen but longer lasting – Normal: a balance between power user and power saver – High Performance: GPS/Screen on Auto/Processor at 90%/etc. – great for performance, but keeping power consumption down by leaving 4G off – Extreme High Performance: everything cranked up and all radios on. My laptop has this feature in Windows Vista (Dell Inspiron) and I flip to different settings all the time.

    Just my 2 cents on this, take it for what it’s worth. I just think Android needs to get a few more power control modules in a quick access format built in. I think the Droid X has this as part of Moto Blur, but it has the concept going.

  10. Please try:

    Android Assistant app to monitor what apps are running and how much battery each is consuming. And one does not need to keep this App running. Can be launched when needed and closed when done.

    Use Go launcher Ex home replacement app to gracefully close the running apps that are not needed.

  11. Wow. I was encouraged by a couple comments from folks that were getting as many as 8 hours from their phones! I have a new HTC Droid and get 2.5-3 under normal heavy phone usage (less if utilize GPS) and 4-5 in standby mode. I have noticed that using my bluetooth headset seems to be a killer. Any tricks or apps for making bluetooth more efficient?

  12. Brilliant and impressive article! I came across another article featuring top 5 battery saver apps for android, they are also as awesome as the ones mentioned here, check it out:


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