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There I was, showing off my new HTC One to a friend when “plink!” the low battery alert sounded. Considering it wasn’t yet lunchtime, this was potentially embarrassing. With under 20% charge left, I had to act fast.

Charging An Android KitKat Phone

Getting the phone charged up was my priority – but what could I use?

Looking around, I saw a wall outlet, and my USB adaptor just happened to be in my bag (not a surprise, as I also carry a Surface Pro in there). Fortunately, throughout the demo I was able to keep the phone plugged in and charging as I showed off photos, videos, games, and the slick HTC Sense 5.5.

Heading back home, I decided to keep the phone charging in the car. Using my cigarette lighter-powered charger, I found that rather than charging the phone at the usual rate, the charger was giving a current akin to the trickle charge that you get from USB connectors on your desktop computer.

That is, a charge that wasn’t going to make any considerable impact on the low battery.

It was then that it struck me. A couple of weeks into life with my new phone – and new to KitKat – it was time to start managing its battery use more effectively.

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Using A Battery Saver Mode

Although unavailable on stock Android 4.4 KitKat devices (rather limited to OEMs like HTC and Samsung, such as the HTC One and the Galaxy S5, which has Ultra Power Saving Mode What Are The Best New Galaxy S5 Features? What Are The Best New Galaxy S5 Features? What are some of these amazing features, and even better, how can you get them on your existing phone? Read More ), using the built-in battery saver tool was my first port of call.

muo-android-kitkat-battery-powersaving

You can open Settings > Battery Settings > Power on some devices (labelling can differ from manufacturer to manufacturer) to check your battery level and to activate Battery Saver mode. The HTC Battery Saver mode is configurable, enabling you to enable or disable further elements such as your data connection, vibration feedback, screen brightness, and CPU usage.

muo-android-kitkat-battery-appstopMeanwhile, use the App Usage list (or equivalent) to find out which apps are using resources. These can be tapped to open their app details screen, and the app can be disabled if required.

If your Android 4.4 KitKat device isn’t a Samsung or HTC, you’ll need to find a battery saver app in the Play Store.

DU Battery Saver and Battery Doctor should be the first apps you try, both of which have been updated and optimised for KitKat.

Managing Connectivity: Location Mode

You should probably be aware that one of the key causes of low battery on your Android device is connectivity.

GPS, for instance, is used widely these days with many apps taking advantage of localization data to serve information based on your current whereabouts. This can prove hugely convenient or terribly inconvenient, depending on when you need to use your phone.

muo-android-kitkat-battery-location

Introduced in Android 4.4 KitKat is the Location mode screen, a feature that enables you to select the accuracy of your localized data, with the least accurate method using only GPS and less battery than the most precise option, which employs Wi-Fi and mobile networks. The Location feature can also be disabled.

Other battery savings can be made by using Wi-Fi over mobile Internet. Although a good option, even in 4G areas, be aware that open wireless networks are almost always non-secure, so don’t use these connections for any sensitive tasks such as online banking or shopping.

Using a tool like Trigger to switch to favourite Wi-Fi networks instead of your mobile Internet automatically as soon as they are in range can help here.

Deal With Always-On Wi-Fi Scanning

As well as switching off Wi-Fi when no connectivity was needed, I also discovered that there is an additional wireless networking setting that can also contribute to battery drain. Hidden away in the Settings > Wi-Fi > Advanced menu is a feature that helps your phone’s location be pinpointed by apps, games, and Google Play.

muo-android-kitkat-battery-adv-wifi

Disabling the Scanning always available feature will help reduce the speed with which your battery runs down, but it will also reduce the effectiveness of Google Now.

Google Now Launcher: Killing Batteries?

The “OK Google” voice control feature of Google Now is probably its most popular and visible element, but the app is constantly busy working away in the background to find information that it deems relevant to you based on your profile.

So if you’ve already disabled its ability to accurately determine your whereabouts, why not go further and reduce its impact on your battery further?

muo-android-kitkat-battery-okgoogle

You should probably know already that the “OK Google” hotword can be disabled. If not, head to Google Now, scroll down to the bottom and tap the menu button to open Settings. From here, tap Hotword Detection and switch to Off.

muo-android-kitkat-battery-googlenow-off

What you may not know is that the whole Google Now service can also be disabled. Via the same Settings menu, toggle the Google Now switch to disable the service, then Turn off to confirm your choice. You might also check the box to delete location history.

Note that if this seems too extreme, you can skip this and leave Google Now activated but with limited battery impact (and relevance from the information it finds for you) from the disabled location services.

Don’t Use ART To Reduce Battery Use

Introduced with Android 4.4 KitKat is ART, the Android Runtime that is included as an alternative to the default Dalvik runtime. We previously explained how to enable ART Does Switching To ART Speed Up Your Android KitKat Device? Does Switching To ART Speed Up Your Android KitKat Device? Is ART best left alone until Google decides to roll it out as a working replacement for Dalvik? Read More , and the potential speed improvements of doing so, but if you’ve followed that guide or any similar steps to switching your KitKat’s runtime to ART, you may have unwittingly made your battery run down quicker.

muo-android-dalvik-vs-art-ft

At this point, the jury is still out on ART, but that shouldn’t matter at this stage as it is a beta runtime, not yet intended for full production use. Although many apps may launch and run quicker, impact on battery drain overall is unclear, based largely on what apps and services you use.

If you’re looking for a “hacker’s option” for reducing battery use in Android KitKat, why not install a custom ROM How to Find and Install a Custom ROM for Your Android Device How to Find and Install a Custom ROM for Your Android Device Android is super customizable, but to fully take advantage of that, you need to flash a custom ROM. Here's how to do that. Read More with built-in tweaks? There are guides here on MakeUseOf for installing custom ROMs, and once you’re familiar with the basics you will find further help – and custom ROMs to download and flash – at the XDA-Developers forum.

You Shouldn’t Be Recharging Twice A Day!

The tips listed here are specifically for Android 4.4 KitKat devices. Battery saving tips for earlier Android versions Extend Your Phone’s Battery Life - 3 Apps That Lead To a Longer Lasting Battery [Android] Extend Your Phone’s Battery Life - 3 Apps That Lead To a Longer Lasting Battery [Android] Have you ever forget to charge your phone overnight and, come morning, realize your phone’s battery life sucks? A portion of your troubles probably relate to Android’s inherent design flaws - in particular, its poor... Read More may also work.

Ultimately, you shouldn’t be charging your phone more than once a day; you could even squeeze two days out of some phones with moderate use. Since disabling Google Now alone, my HTC One runs for an additional 2-3 hours on average – not a bad result.

How often do you recharge your Android 4.4 KitKat handset? Let us know your thoughts below.

Image Credit: Placeit.net

  1. Amrutha.P Anu
    July 17, 2015 at 5:12 am

    I have the Micro max volt, i have wifi connection problem in my volt, please help me sir

  2. mooseye
    March 14, 2015 at 3:06 am

    ? 4.4.2

  3. mooseye
    March 14, 2015 at 3:01 am

    I have turned off, uninstalled, disabled, un-checked and followed every other instruction I can find and my s4active still scans for wifi constantly. Help!

  4. Chris
    March 13, 2015 at 11:57 pm

    My z3 compact gives me more than 4 days in Stamina mode . It`s brilliant. whenever the screen is off, it turns off wifi and mobile data. You can define apps who will be allowed to run in the background while the screen is off. The only app I allowed in standby is mail. I configured mail to look for new emails every 15 minutes. So I get my email notifications and the phone is online only for a short time every 15 minutes. That way google can`t track me continuously and no app is using gps in standby, but in case I loose it, i can still look it up on the google device manager- with a little 15 minute patience max. I deactivated some useless google-stuff I didn`t need anyway too.
    I am looking for an app which is like stammina for my girlfriend`s samsung galaxy duos s 2. Any suggestions?

  5. rh
    February 3, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    I'm already getting over 5 days with one charge, nice step up from my old galaxy s3 mini that only managed 3 days, and I havent done nearly any of this stuff, I am using an alternative launcher from day 1 though.

    • Christian Cawley
      February 12, 2015 at 8:40 am

      Which launcher are you using, rh?

  6. MARCIS
    January 2, 2015 at 3:16 pm

    MARCIS

    1 min ago

    REPLY

    I had charging problem right after the kitkat upgrade updated my phone. No matter how long I charged my phone it would not get past 60 to 70 pct. Also my phone battery discharged very quickly. I Did not have this problem prior to the upgrade. I performed a cache partition wipe on my phone (in fact i did it twice) and now my phone is back charging as normal. Do a search on the instructions for performing a cache partition wipe for a NOTE 2 (not a tablet), and see if it works for you.

  7. Djae0120103
    January 2, 2015 at 10:40 am

    Well ive been charging my android kitkat 4.4 once a day without installing the battery saver. i just lessened the brightness and im wondering what is cell standby?

  8. Dan Williams
    November 6, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    My note 3 is just shocking. I have had to buy a battery charging case. It looked like a brick. But now it just looks worse.

  9. Pravin
    October 27, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    I have S4 Mini Duos, 1900 mAh battery and 1.7 Gh Dual core, 1.5 G RAM. Both the SIM slots are active always. My Device is Rooted. I use WakeLock Detector to find the Power Hungry Apps which might get too aggressive after bad updates. I also use Greenify to Auto-hibernate all apps including system apps, Tweaked to get Push Notifications even under hibernation. Installed System Tuner Pro to disable some unnecessary bloatwares and turn off apps on startup. I have also installed AFwall to control offline apps from using Internet unnecessarily. I am always connected online, I have around 100 apps installed. 20-30 third party apps always run in the background no matter what.

    On a Normal/Working day, I don't watch videos, I don't play games, I just check emails manually and reply for around 15 mins thrice a day, converse on SMS (25-30 Incoming and 10-15 Outgoing), Whatsapp ( Approx. 30 mins), use Facebook (10-15 mins), 60 to 100 mins of calling, I read news on Google or Flipboard for around 30 mins. Wi-Fi always connected when I am at work (Home Office). Mobile Internet toggles automatically when I go out. (I used Tasker earlier, with just 6 tasks it consumed 20% of total power, though I love it, I had to disable it). 15 sec screen off, Google Now disabled, Auto-Brightness on, Location disabled, Auto Sync disabled, Smart Stay disabled, Bluetooth off and with POWER SAVING MODE OFF. Powersaving mode lags the phone due to lower CPU setting. Only SolCalendar and Transparent Weather Clock Widget on Home Screen.

    Before Installing Greenify and Tweaking, I used to get around 8-10 hours of moderate usage. Believe it or not Now I am getting an average of 14-16 hours per full charge, under the same circumstances. I take out my phone from charger at 8:00 AM, I plug in for charge when my battery drops below 20% or 12:00 AM, which ever comes earlier. many techies say overcharging is bad, I can't help it :( But I charge only once in a day. I carry 5200 mAh Power bank when I am travelling. And I don't charge my phone with Laptop USB or Car Power outlet unless it's emergency.

    - Pravin

  10. Sean Farrow
    September 18, 2014 at 3:33 am

    Good tips for Android noobs (or those coming from the dark side).

    Disabling gps and data if not needed I thought was par for the course. The notes on ART are interesting.

    Granted all of this comes down to usage patterns. My almost 2yo Galaxy S3 running on S5SensationROM Android 4.4.2 still gets 2 days of heavy use, 3 days of light use and over a week of almost no (roaming overseas, essentially on airplane mode) use per charge, Bluetooth on all the time.

    The record this device has gotten was well over 6 days back when it was fresh, running stock 4.2 and touchwiz.

  11. bg4m3r
    August 8, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    I have the LG Volt, which has a 3000mAh stock battery and runs KK 4.4.2. While I have disabled several apps/features I don't use like voice activation and all the Google media apps, I have location set to high accuracy, and 4G LTE w/Spark and WiFi always on, and don't use any battery management apps. I also do a fair amount of gaming on it while out and about. I have never gotten to the end of the day with less than 20% charge remaining, and frequently go 2 days between charges. As a battery stress test, I ran my GPS (Waze) during a 5 hour drive. Starting at about 90%, I still had 30% when I reached my destination. I'd say that's pretty good battery life! :P

  12. SH
    June 9, 2014 at 1:12 am

    "Using my cigarette lighter-powered charger, I found that rather than charging the phone at the usual rate, the charger was giving a current akin to the trickle charge that you get from USB connectors on your desktop computer."

    This is probably the fault of the charger - not the phone. You need a charge-only cable such as this: Mediabridge 2.0 Micro-USB to USB Charging Cable coupled with a decent cigarette lighter plug, such as this: Scosche USBC202M Dual 10 Watt (2.1A) USB Car Charger. Scosche also make a 12 Watt version that will charge two tablets at the same time.

    BTW, Do cars still come with cigarette lighters? Mine 2006 Toyota has a couple of sockets, but no actual lighter.

  13. Anonymous
    June 6, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    My Sony Z1 runs for days with out a charge, on the flip side the old iPhone 4 was lucky to get one day

  14. cyber
    June 6, 2014 at 2:11 am

    Helps bit of saving. But phone runs all features and drains.

  15. Rohan
    June 5, 2014 at 11:28 pm

    I think your ART statement isn't exactly correct for us hackers. I can enable ART and lower my clock speed to 1.4 GHz (Nexus 5, stock 2.3 GHZ) while still maintaining an ultra smooth interface. I can't do that on dalvik. Saves a crap ton of battery.

  16. Graeme S
    June 5, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    I have a S5 and always run the Normal Battery saving mode. The result is not a day or a couple of Extra Hours, DAYS yes days it's putting my old iPhone 4 to shame by two days on average. I could tickle just short of 4 days from the iPhone. The S5 is looking very good at 6 days.

  17. Moto Man
    June 5, 2014 at 8:28 am

    I don't have this problem with my Moto G. It runs stock, not rooted, with Wi-Fi and full gps on all the time and I regularly get 12-15 hours out of it with regular use. It appears to me that all these manufacturers attempts at creating a pretty interface is what drains your battery. Touchwiz on Samsung drains batteries and you can't turn that off.

    • Kyem G
      June 5, 2014 at 10:15 am

      My Moto G lasts for 7-8hrs with wifi, location or Google now never bothered to turn off.. Always connected to social networks, may be my fingers are always busy. An hour or two of music and a bit of Temple Run OZ... And I have a weather widget always active which uses location in an interval of 3 hours.. Is it ok??? I'm new to Android as I have previously been with symbian and iOS..

    • Christian C
      June 5, 2014 at 1:49 pm

      This is good news - I had a Moto G loan device over Christmas and found it utterly terrible in every respect. I now suspect I had a dodgy device or one upon which Android hadn't correctly installed.

  18. Thom Murphy
    June 4, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    My Sony Xperia Z2 is a battery beast. It's far any away better than any Android smartphone I've owned in terms of battery life. Even better than my Note 3. It may well be better than some of the Symbian devices I used to use. Recently, the Z2 gave me over 20 hours life with more than 9 hours of that being screen on time while using navigation and hotspot at the same time. I never have light usage, but, with my heavy use the Z2 impresses me. ?

    Having just read through the article. The author seems a little to confident in their statements. "If your Android 4.4 KitKat device isn’t a Samsung or HTC, you’ll need to find a battery saver app in the Play Store" isn't so accurate. Sony also built in "Stamina Mode" and "Low Battery Mode" into the Z2 mentioned above. That said, I don't find I need to bother using these features.?

    • Christian C
      June 5, 2014 at 1:48 pm

      Yes, The HTC/Samsung statement was a little inaccurate, but they were the only ones we could verify at the time as having their own battery savers.

      Happy to read the Song Xperia Z2 has one, and even happier to see you don't need to use it!

      (Incidentally I owned the original Sony Xperia X1 many years ago, and although it was improved considerably by installing Android alongside the default Windows Mobile it would regularly burn through two full charges a day...)

  19. RichF
    June 4, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    Using a Moto X and even with everything always on: Bluetooth, location, google now, etc. I don't have to recharge more than once per day. Actually I could likely go a day and a half.

    • Jessica
      June 5, 2014 at 10:31 am

      Love my Moto X. If I can't go a day on a charge, I start looking at apps to see what's zapping my battery. Great phone.

    • Christian C
      June 5, 2014 at 1:45 pm

      Pleased to hear you're getting some good charge from your Motos!

  20. Slashee the Cow
    June 4, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    "with the least accurate method using only GPS and less battery than the most precise option, which employs Wi-Fi and mobile networks"

    I think you're not quite right there - the least accurate - and least power hungry - method is the "battery saving" one that only uses mobile networks and WiFi (it triangulates your location based on known locations of the mobile towers you're connected to and WiFi routers your phone can see). Just because GPS only is at the bottom of the list doesn't mean it's least accurate.

    GPS only is next accurate, although it's not much less accurate than the "high accuracy" option - but it's likely slower. It may also use more of your battery, because the GPS (by far the most power hungry way to figure out where you are) has to do all the work.

    The "high accuracy" option will use nearby mobile towers and WiFi routers to figure out your rough location, and then use the GPS to get a more precise location (but the GPS knows where to start). It should use the most battery, since it is checking your mobile and WiFi connections, and the GPS - although if it can get a quick lock, it might use less power than GPS only just because it doesn't have to run for as long.

    • Christian C
      June 5, 2014 at 1:44 pm

      Hi Slashee - yes, you're quite right, it was poorly worded. Thanks for clarifying for the readers :)

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