You know, for the most part I’ve been extremely happy with the Droid that I got years ago for Christmas. It has lasted this long without a single change of battery, and the battery still holds a solid charge for hours. This is after many hours of testing countless apps, constantly forgetting to put it on the charger and completely discharging it, and pretty much using the thing right into the ground.
So how do you know how well your battery is holding up? And if you just got a new Android, how can you make sure you are getting the most efficient use of your battery power? Are you burning up the juice with services like GPS or Wi-Fi that you may not always need? Isn’t it a pain to keep turning those things on and off? How does a person manage all of that and stay sane?
Those are some of the issues that I’d like to explore in this piece. First, how you can automate the process so that keeping your battery use efficient doesn’t drive you crazy. Second, how to know whether or not your battery is really holding up to how it should be performing, and then a couple of utilities you can use to regularly maintain and monitor your battery.
In the end, following these tips will hopefully help you to prolong the life of your Android battery.
Stretching Out the Life of Your Battery
Most smartphone batteries – if you’ve bought a decent smartphone anyway – are tailored to the intended uses of the phone, meaning that the chosen battery is rated at the voltage required if you were going to make full use of all of the phone’s features. The ideal battery life may be many hours when you are hardly using services like GPS, bluetooth or WiFi, but when you start enabling one or two of those, and then friends start calling while your phone is on vibrate, you can see that battery starts dropping pretty fast.
Defend Your Juice
So why allow too many services to run when you aren’t even using them? All too often, people just forget that they’ve left Wi-Fi turned on when they’re nowhere near a Wi-Fi network, or they leave GPS turned on when they’ve left their car and are done using it. That’s when an app like JuiceDefender really comes in handy.
JuiceDefender can be incredibly simple to use, or very complicated. It’s really up to how you want to make use of it. You can choose from preset controls where the designers have configured typical triggers when people would want things like bluetooth or Wi-Fi automatically turned off. Balanced is a moderate approach to saving power, while extreme will be annoyingly persistent at turning services off quickly in order to save your battery.
You can see what controls, schedules and triggers are already set by clicking on Advanced to open up the advanced area of the application, and then choosing the Status tab to see that information.
Once you’ve enabled advanced, you get access to all of the Controls and whether or not you want Juice Defender to control that service. In many cases, you have to stick with the default settings unless you upgrade to the paid version, but you do have plenty of control over most of the important items.
If you want to see the schedules, or when services are “scheduled” to turn on and off, click on the Schedules tab. This includes the ability to also have those services quickly enabled – like background data – so that your phone can go out, quickly get new emails, Facebook and Twitter updates, and then quickly shut off the background data again. This not only cuts battery consumption, but also data consumption.
There are plenty of areas in the app to explore if you want to tweak things, but if you’re a general user that just wants a quick and easy tool to save battery power, just install the app and keep it on the “balanced” setting, and you’ll most likely start seeing an improvement in your battery life.
Take a Battery Benchmark
So, how do you know whether or not your battery is doing as good as it should? That’s easy, just install the Battery Compare app, and you can find out.
Battery Compare is really an app that takes you through a 3 step process to take a benchmark and then compares your battery performance with the performance of all other battery tests stored online in the Battery Compare Internet database. On the first page, you just click the Start button and your test will begin. The phone needs to be on battery power the whole time, so make sure that it’s charged ahead of time. Then, either use your phone like normal or let it sit for at least one hour, but preferably several hours.
When you stop the test, you can move on to the “Publish” step, which asks you a series of questions about your typical battery use. These questions will classify you against how other users tend to use their phones, so if you want an accurate comparison of your battery against others, answer these questions honestly, and then publish your benchmark.
Once you publish the benchmark, you can go to the Compare tab, where you’ll see exactly how your battery performs compared to other users’ batteries across a number of different factors, based on how you answered your questions. You’ll see how much better your battery performs compared to other people with your type of phone, other people that use an aftermarket battery, or others who use a battery utility app.
Those comparisons can give you a much better picture about what health your battery is really in. As you can see, my old battery is still doing better than 31% of the users out there who likely have newer phones than me. On the other hand, 31% isn’t that great. It could be about time for a new battery!
If you want to regularly maintain your battery correctly so that it has a longer life, there are a few things that you can do. The first is to regularly fully drain and then fully recharge the battery. Batteries like this sort of full-cycle recharge and it can prolong the life of your battery if you do it every now and then.
Of course, that means at the end of the day when you want to charge your phone, you need the battery fully discharged. To do this, you can use an app like Juice Offender. Yes, this is the exact opposite from Juice Defender. In this case, you want to drain all the juice out of your battery.
The app is simple enough, just tap the “Start Drain” button.
The app will turn the phone’s most draining features, like an all-white screen, vibrate, Wi-Fi, screen brightness, and it’ll crank up your CPU load.
Just leave your phone to discharge. It could take an hour or more depending on how much charge you had left in your battery, but you can see the draining process in the bar at the top of the screen.
Another nice utility to have on your phone so that you can see how your activities on the phone affect your battery consumption, is Juice Plotter. Juice Plotter will run in the background – consuming very little memory or CPU – and it will gradually chart out your phone’s entire charge level throughout the day, all day. By seeing what time of the day your juice really started to drop based on what you were doing with your phone, it can give you some important clues as to why on Earth your phone sometimes discharges a lot faster than normal.
All three of these activities – conserving battery juice, taking regular benchmarks and also draining and monitoring the battery power are all important methods to help make that battery keep powering up your Android phone for years to come. Additionally, if you can prolong that battery life, it’s not only good for you, but it’s good for the environment, and that’s always a good thing.
Do you have any battery saving apps that you already use? Have you decided to start using any of these? Share your thoughts and feedback in the comments section below.
Image Credit: Phone with low battery via Shutterstock
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