Android Smartphone Battery Life: Myths and Facts

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I love my Android OS* smartphone. But like lots of folks, I’m not thrilled with the lack of battery life. Being not particularly tech-savvy, I started looking for a solution. What I found out surprised me.

Like any other problem common to lots of people, there are a whole lot of shams, scams and bad advice online about why your Android smartphone battery runs out before your work day is over. I’ve tried to sift through a lot of that, and I’ve found a few solutions.

Unless, like our fearless leader Sam, you buy your phone outright, then go find a service provider, or are brave enough to “root” your phone, you probably signed a contract for a service plan and got the phone free or at a discount. That means you almost certainly ended up with “bloatware,” apps that developers paid your provider to install on the phone, and that you cannot remove. After you add your own apps, you might suspect that your battery problem is due to too many apps running even when you are not using them.

A killer solution?

If that’s true, an app to force-quit apps that you are not using sounds like a good idea. It would free up memory and extend battery life, right? Some websites that I have in the past considered reliable sources for tech advice recommend “App killers.”

But while apps can screw up your phone, (I’m convinced the Facebook app screwed up mine) they aren’t really to blame for poor battery life. Without getting into tech-speak that I would likely misuse, the fact is that Android is very good at keeping apps available to you without having them “running” and using power. That’s why in Android, you have no option to “quit” an app—you just hit the “home” key. An app-killer is in fact a bad idea because it can kill off apps that are helping your phone to run well.

What to do?

Apps aren’t perfect, and they can “misbehave” and run your battery down as well as hurt phone performance. But there are apps like Watchdog (a free version is available in the Android Market, now apparently called Play Store) that monitors (but does not kill) your apps. It alerts you to problems so you can kill misbehaving apps yourself.

To extend your battery life, you need to better control the functions that are in fact using up your juice. If you go to Settings > About Phone > Battery > Battery Use you can see what’s using what. You can control these functions manually, or get apps that you can customize that will adjust your data connection, wi-fi settings, navigation, and other energy-intensive features. I have been very pleased with how I’ve managed to extend battery life without sacrificing any of the features that make me love my smartphone.

*not to be confused with the “Droid” brand of smartphones.

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tranpalitu/3651045603)

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  • Julie

    I think FB screwed up my phone too. Great advice – thank you!