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Everyone has dealt with battery problems at one point or another; it comes with the territory of using a pocket-sized computer. Much has been written on the topic of battery conservation — an issue that isn’t specific to Android — but there’s one important aspect that keeps tripping people up: battery draining apps.

Apps can kill your battery without you realizing it. Sometimes it’s done maliciously (e.g. smartphone malware Has Your Android Phone Been Infected with Malware? Has Your Android Phone Been Infected with Malware? How does malware get on an Android device? After all, most users only install apps through the Play Store, and Google keeps a tight watch over that to make sure malware doesn't squeeze through, right?... Read More ) but more often than not, it can be explained by poor app design or an app that has gone rogue and can’t quit through normal means.

If your first reaction to this problem is to install a task killer or RAM booster, STOP. Automated task killers and RAM boosters are bad Why RAM Boosters And Task Killers Are Bad For Your Android Why RAM Boosters And Task Killers Are Bad For Your Android At first glance, RAM boosters and task killers sound incredibly useful, but a closer look shows that they could actually be harming your phone instead. Read More for your phone and should not be used for management of phone resources. What you really need are diagnostic apps.

Wakelock Detector

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Note: Wakelock Detector requires root access.

Android has built-in battery management in the form of sleeping. When you aren’t using your phone, Android will first dim the screen, then turn it off, then rest the CPU. Apps can utilize wakelocks to prevent any of that from happening. This can be useful in some apps (e.g. games) but in other cases, it’s just a waste of battery life.

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Wakelock Detector is an app that checks wakelock usage history on your device, thus detecting which apps are preventing your phone from properly resting when not being used. It can tell you which apps are using wakelocks and how often they utilize said wakelocks.

The app is simple and straightforward. You can filter between partial wakelocks (CPU is on, screen is off) and full wakelocks (CPU is on, screen is on). Once you know which apps are keeping your phone awake longer than necessary, you can shut them off or uninstall them altogether.

Note: Wakelocks are a normal part of Android operation. Using wakelocks is okay; abusing them is not. Just be on the lookout for the ones that never give your phone a chance to rest.

GSam Battery Monitor

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There are a lot of battery usage trackers on the Play Store, but none are as useful as GSam Battery Monitor. It’s packed with several different tools to help you manage battery life with as little hassle as possible.

The apps home screen gives an adequate quick-glance overview of battery usage according to category: phone calls, screen time, WiFi activity, etc. With the App Sucker, however, you can get a more detailed breakdown of CPU usage, including wakelock details.

The built-in charts are nifty as well. For as long as GSam Battery Monitor is running, it will track details like battery temperature, phone signal, and rate of battery consumption.

The app can be used on unrooted devices, but rooting will give you access to more advanced stats: wakelock information, sensor data, and more. It’s also free, but supported by ads. For $1.99 USD, you can upgrade to the Pro version which removes ads and optimizes views for large-screen devices.

Watchdog Task Manager

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Watchdog Task Manager is an old app — the last update was February 2012 — that’s so good that it remains relevant to this day. It’s one of the best tools for identifying rogue apps and it’ll come in handy time and time again, especially if you’re in the habit of trying out lots of new apps.

First and foremost, Watchdog is NOT an automated task killer. It doesn’t haphazardly kill background apps simply because they’re in the background. That by itself would be a waste of battery juice.

Rather, Watchdog is a monitor. It keeps track of the CPU used by all the apps on your device. Whenever it detects an anomaly — such as a spike in CPU usage — it will alert you about it and allow you to make the decision of whether to kill that app. It’s a smart, surgical solution. No brute force.

Watchdog also provides a whitelist and a blacklist. Apps on the whitelist won’t trigger an alert even if they spike in CPU while apps on the blacklist will be automatically killed if they surpass a certain CPU threshold. The blacklist is a paid feature.

Yes, Watchdog is free but supported by ads and slightly limited in features. For $3.49 USD, you can upgrade to the paid version which removes ads and unlocks the blacklist feature.

The only downside is that Watchdog hasn’t been updated in a while; it works fine, but as Android continues to evolve, there may or may not come a day in the near future when it stops working as intended.

How Do You Detect Battery Killing Apps?

If none of the above helps, then your battery issues may not be app-related. Be sure to check out our tips for extending Android battery life 9 Proven, Tested Tips To Extend Your Android's Battery Life 9 Proven, Tested Tips To Extend Your Android's Battery Life No matter how long your phone's battery life lasts, there are ways that you can definitely make it last longer. Let's take a look at some different ways. Read More to minimize drain and maximize longevity. You may be surprised by what you find there.

Is there a diagnostic app that we missed? Are there any other techniques you use to isolate the apps that are sapping the life out of your phone? Share them with us in the comments below! We’d love to hear from you.

Image Credits: glossy battery Via Shutterstock

  1. Jim R
    February 14, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    Correction: ...seems to help, but it's a task I shouldn't have to do.

  2. Jim R
    February 14, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    No I'm not rooted. thank you for jumping in and offering a solution. I haven't overcome the problem, and I'm becoming resentful of Samsung for not correcting a known issue. I've learned to check my battery usage as soon as I unplug the phone from charging and kill the app immediately. That seems to help, but just ask I shouldn't have to do.

  3. Jim R
    January 24, 2015 at 2:25 pm

    I have a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 that has a function called com.samsung.indexservice that kills the battery. As soon as I notice it's on I shut it off. I've never noticed any degradation of the phone's performance after shutting it off. I want to remove it, but the phone doesn't offer the option. Is there an app that will automatically shut down this battery killer?

    • JP
      January 30, 2015 at 12:59 am

      Are you rooted? You can use Titanium Backup to freeze the app.

  4. Ahmed
    November 11, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    nothing worked as I want to, just as Joel Lee I have to close/disable the app which create problem.

  5. Mike A.
    November 7, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    Kevin hit the nail on the head. If you can automatically blacklist and/or uninstall some the phone's/carrier's apps I think it would dramatically save battery life. I think this is rgs's problem. Phone manufacturer's and Carrier's hide their apps behind official looking file names (not proven for me anyway, but I'm sure they do it) so users don't stop their processes. Joel please consider Kevin's request, I back him 100%. Would love to see this article. Also consider that you would have to do this for a family of devices. I.E. Note, Galaxy, Iphone. Thanks.

  6. JG
    November 6, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    Is anybody familiar with Clean Master? Thoughts/Opinions?

    • Caroline Eadie
      November 13, 2016 at 3:18 pm

      I have used cm for a number of years but I don't leave it running I deal with it at bedtime or if I get an alert.tried others but find cm the best

  7. Sam Le Marnais
    November 6, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    I use the combination of:
    - Carat (awesome tatistic's apps in term of idea, not the interface :D)
    - AutorunManager to avoid apps to start with Android if not necessary
    - Greenify to kill apps when I want to save massive battery life or bandwidth (roaming for example).
    But I'm keen to test GSam and Watchdog to see if it can complete my killer combination ;)

  8. rgs
    November 6, 2014 at 11:59 am

    I've found that every week or two my HTC One M7 begins to quickly use up battery and the battery gets warm to the touch. Clearly some app has gone wild but I've yet to find an app that can tell me which one. I simply reboot the phone and the problem goes away.

    • Joel Lee
      November 6, 2014 at 3:52 pm

      My fiancee has an HTC One X and runs into the same exact problem. When it occurs, her battery can drop from 50% to 0% within seconds. I wonder if it's an issue with an app that's native to HTC? It seems to happen a lot for devices within that family.

    • dAN
      November 7, 2014 at 3:41 pm

      Keep us informed on that! I would love to know more about that too!

  9. Kevin
    November 6, 2014 at 11:12 am

    I would like to know which Google and Samsung apps are critical to performance, and which are bloat and can be safely deleted as my Galaxy SII is having memory (and battery) issues.
    There is Google+, Play books, Play Movies, Play Music, Play Newsstand. Then there is Samsung Readers Hub, Samsung Link, Samsung Music Hub, Samsung S Planner... Can any of these be deleted without impacting anything else?

    • Joel Lee
      November 6, 2014 at 3:50 pm

      That's a great question. I'll take it to my editor and see if it's worth writing an article about. Thanks Kevin!

    • Kattisch
      November 12, 2014 at 6:19 pm

      I would also be interested in knowing this!

    • den eng
      November 18, 2014 at 6:33 am

      I have a Samsung Galaxy S3, and I tried deleting apps that I didn't use anymore. Unfortunately, disabling the built-in app known as Paper Artist somehow disabled my ability to share photos from my Gallery - choosing the "share" option always caused Gallery to crash - up til I enabled Paper Artist again.

      It bothers me that I don't have full control over apps that I don't want.. like Samsung's music player, just like what Kevin mentioned above. Would be quite interested in reading an article on these included apps that Google and/or Samsung won't let us delete.

      Another thing is, I have a big SD card, but less space on my device - I've always wondered if it is possible to install apps on an external memory source, and clear up space on the internal hard drive to keep my phone running smoothly. (Since I have noticed that it is running a bit slowly)

    • Caroline Eadie
      November 13, 2016 at 3:22 pm

      Many of your named apps won't let u totally remove them but uninstall updates kills them totally

  10. John L
    November 6, 2014 at 10:47 am

    I think the problem with these apps is that become part of the problem. In the picture above it shows GSAM as being the second biggest user of the battery which tends to defeat the object. I have found numerous other apps which stop one thing from slowing down/wasting battery on your phone but then replace it with themselves.

    • Joel Lee
      November 6, 2014 at 3:55 pm

      Yeah, that's definitely a concern. In the screenshot, I think GSam's battery usage is artificially high because I had been playing around with it and activating a lot of its features. Normally, if it's just in the background, it wouldn't use that much battery.

      If you're worried about the drain of these apps, you could compromise: install them if you suspect that an app is draining a lot of battery, diagnose the problem, then uninstall the battery app when the problem is solved. :)

    • zveb
      March 17, 2015 at 1:55 am

      I don't think it's a concern,
      just use those tools to identify a problematic app, get ride of it, and then get ride of the doctor too :)

  11. hand f
    November 6, 2014 at 3:14 am

    Battery mix. Best on market. (Not pro version..)

    • Joel Lee
      November 12, 2014 at 7:59 pm

      The interface could use a bit of improvement (going by the screenshots on Play Store) but it sounds like a good one. I'll give it a try!

  12. Saikat
    November 5, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    Can anyone inform if MIUI has this battery usage controller preinstalled?

  13. SatyanB
    November 5, 2014 at 10:21 am

    Using wakelock detector and GSAM both.
    Carat too is a good app.

    • Joel Lee
      November 6, 2014 at 3:48 pm

      Carat does look good, though it seems a bit strange that data would have to be sent to their servers before they can analyze it.

  14. Hazem elsaiegh
    November 5, 2014 at 9:01 am

    Greenify is beautiful app for hibernating apps

    • Joel Lee
      November 6, 2014 at 3:47 pm

      I've heard of Greenify before but haven't used it myself. I'll have to look into it again!

  15. Shell
    November 5, 2014 at 5:00 am

    Is Battery Doctor considered a task killer or RAM booster?

    • Joel Lee
      November 6, 2014 at 3:44 pm

      I don't think it is. From what I remember, it had a "one click task killer" which isn't the same as an automated task killer. Personally, I still wouldn't use a "one click task killer", instead I would rather manually close/disable specific apps that are causing battery problems. You can give Battery Doctor a try and see if it helps! Worst case scenario, you can uninstall it. :)

    • Caroline Eadie
      November 13, 2016 at 3:27 pm

      Don't use battery doctor it severely drains battery

  16. Cin
    November 5, 2014 at 4:38 am

    What do you recommend for phones without root access?

    • Joel Lee
      November 6, 2014 at 3:47 pm

      Ever since Android 4.4 (KitKat), battery management has been a bit problematic for unrooted devices due to changes in security permissions. I don't have any recommendations right now, but if anyone reading these comments has a suggestion, please feel free to chime in!

    • Peg Ritchie
      December 3, 2014 at 11:21 am

      With all due respect Shaun, the S4 does not have a Snapdragon processor. I suspect that is why Snapdragon Battery Processor didn't work for you.

      One of the best aspects of the Guru is a place in settings where you can control how often your apps refresh. I set all but one of my apps to refresh only when I open them. For example, I still get notifications when email comes in, but gmail doesn't refresh until I actually open gmail, or in my case, Inbox by Gmail.

      So as an update, I can now say that my battery savings is now way beyond an additional hour per day. In fact, I have been recharging 1/2 the time I used to.

      I well understand the argument of those who prefer controlling these things themselves, having created my own widgets and used apps that allow me to customize every little thing possible. I found that some of these operations while saving battery, also ate up memory, which for an app horse like me, became severely limiting to the point of slowing down my phone. So I am relieved that Snapdragon Battery Guru does it all, once I got all the settings just right. Now I have time to do stuff I want to do, guilt free. And if I want to see how well it's working there's a graph to demonstrate every efficacy at a quick glance, then be on my way.

      Now there are only three more tools that I use: All In One Toolbox, Watchdog and D'Vasive.

      Thanks for indulging my cheerleading.

      Y'all have a great day!

  17. Peg Ritchie
    November 4, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    I use Snapdragon Battery Guru. First, it spends a few days learning your habits. Then it automatically makes battery saving functions for your phone. It gives a report for the last 24 hours every time you open the app. It is designed for multi tasking smart phones with Snapdragon processors. It does everything in the background with no effort on my part. I have noticed that I am getting at least an extra hour out of my battery every day on my Moto G 4G LTE. Hope this helps.

    • Joel Lee
      November 6, 2014 at 3:41 pm

      I will look into Snapdragon. Honestly, I'm wary of any app that automated the entire process - I would rather make manual changes to my phone based on reports and recommendations. Still, I guess if it works, it works. Thanks for the recommend. :)

    • Shawn A
      December 2, 2014 at 3:17 pm

      Glad to see that the Snapdragon batteryguru app worked for you. I had the opposite effect on my S4. I installed it and ran it for a few weeks to give it a chance, but I noticed in the battery usage under settings it always showed this as one of the largest battery drains on my device, right up there with the Android OS itself! It made my battery usage much worse! Reading through the reviews it seems that a few others had similar results. I'm sticking with a straight up battery monitoring app from now on.

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