Android is the most popular mobile operating system in the world, powering more handsets and devices than any other by an order of magnitude. Back in 2018, a study indicated that Android powers 88% of mobile devices, with its closest competitor, Apple’s iOS, coming in at a relatively measly 11.9%. Aside from the sheer number of devices on which the software is deployed, something favoured by users over other operating systems is the flexibility afforded by the open nature of the platform. Such flexibility always has the potential to come at a cost, and a primary consideration for anyone using Android will be battery life. The devices can undoubtedly do a lot, but every task of any size requires power. In this feature, we examine 10 ways in which Android users can reduce the stress on their battery to prolong battery life and improve the health of their device.
1. Disable Haptic Feedback and Phone Vibration
Both haptic feedback and phone vibration can be classified as features that are nice to have, but not essential. Vibration is better than nothing in environments where it makes sense to keep the phone silent, but in general circumstances, it requires less battery power for the phone to ring than for it to vibrate. Similarly, while the small vibrations when tapping buttons can be satisfying on key presses, they serve no necessary function yet require additional power. In circumstances where every last bit of juice counts, both can be considered unnecessary and disabled.
2. Change Your Wallpaper
In something of a throwback to a time when people believed that more complex wallpapers on their PCs used more RAM, it can actually make sense to go with a duller background colour, especially on AMOLED displays. In layman’s terms, these displays require power to show colour, but none to render a black screen. A simple black wallpaper may not be aesthetically pleasing, but it can do your battery life a favour.
3. Monitor Location Settings on Apps
Locations services are among the most battery-intensive processes on any mobile device and so it can be worth periodically checking which apps have location permissions. For some, such as Google Maps and Uber, the service is essential to smooth running. For others, it is only an incidental benefit. There will also be times where there is absolutely no need for the phone to use location services, and anyone seeking to conserve their battery can consider disabling them altogether.
4. Tidy Up your Widgets
Widgets are very handy, enabling users to receive the latest information instantly and in an intuitive manner. However, the frequent updates of these always-on widgets can push battery life. What constitutes an essential widget will be down to the user, but any that are not deemed as such should be removed.
5. Enable Doze Mode
Doze Mode is an Android feature that became available in Marshmallow. If not activated by default, it can be reached through the battery settings menu, and it is an essential tool for the battery conscious. When the device is left unused for a period of time, Android will automatically optimise the battery usage of running apps to keep it to a minimum.
6. Only Use the Connectivity Needed at a Given Time
Most Android handsets can connect to the outside world in a number of ways. Cellular data, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC are just some of the ways in which the device can interact. Each uses power and is always on by default, but each one can also be turned off independently. If you never use Bluetooth or NFC, then they can be disabled in favour of better battery life. To take it a step further, uses can disable cellular data when on Wi-Fi and vice versa, but this depends on your own habits.
7. Disable Auto-Sync Across Apps
Much as location services are not always needed, the same applies to Auto-Sync. Various apps make use of the system, such as Gmail and Twitter, but each query of the server uses more battery life than normal. Users that rely on receiving emails as soon as possible will want to keep Auto-Sync active, but these updates can be managed on a per app basis in the settings.
8. Keep Your Phone Up to Date
Both your Android version and all apps should be updated as often as possible. While functionality is at the core of most updates, app creators acknowledge the value in keeping battery drain to a minimum. When a new update boasts performance enhancements, this often means better battery utilisation, and so it can pay to stay current.
9. Disable Hotword Detection
Fans of voice activation will undoubtedly appreciate the addition of Hotword to the Android platform. However, in exchange for a constantly listening device that is ready to wake at any moment is the power to the microphone. Unless Hotword is essential to the use of your device, it is worth disabling.
10. Use Airplane Mode Liberally
Airplane mode is a last resort of sorts, as it effectively turns even the latest smartphones into dumbphones. When using the device for offline tasks, such as writing documents, playing games or listening to non-streaming music, disabling all connectivity will have a dramatic effect on battery life. It is also likely to be an excellent solution when connectivity is likely to be poor, especially when travelling. Network switching for the best signal is a big drain on power, and airplane mode means that your device will temporarily stop searching and exerting that energy.