Getting the Best from your Smartphone Battery

For years, our Smartphones are increasing in capabilities in every aspect possible, from better screens packed with endless number of pixels to fast running processors (running faster and longer than normal) to GPUs that handle even the most graphics-intensive games with ease.

With all these changes and improvements dropping from phone iterations to the next, one aspect of our phones haven’t improved so much over the years. Undoubtedly, that’s the battery! Yeah, Battery Juice.

Just to make the point stand out, Nokia 3310 (one of the “Legends of…” The Past in the kingdom of phones), when released in 2001, had a 1,000 mAh battery. 14 years down the line, the highest one could find on the market in the battery department from OEMs are less than 4,000 mAh (with just one or two exceptions).

So you’re asking if at least 3000 mAh could be added, when CPU, GPU, Storage Cards and Screen technologies have improved exponentially?

Well!

My epic battery experience shared to Google+ Android Community

Not Easy with Batteries. We get it!

Indeed, batteries are one of the technologies hard to play with. It doesn’t happen easy to fit the highest of battery juice in a small battery pack. And with Smartphone sizes and weight ever on the push to be of smaller in nature, the unfortunate person that automatically becomes the culprit is, well–the Battery.

For instance, Samsung’s latest flagship, the S6, threw and continue to throw very effective and powerful punches in the departments of screen quality, OS smoothness, speed of running apps, and other internal positive tweaks, yet in the realm of Battery, its as if Samsung closed their efforts at enhancement in that department to the detriment of the customer.

Are we getting what we really want?

Of course, it should not come as a surprise, as many are not so much concerned about battery power any longer, at least as per the individuals who responded to a poll I conducted in the Android community on Google+. The question was simple and straightforward, and the responses given were concrete and direct, mostly pointing towards little concern for longer lasting batteries.

Although I was saddened at heart to learn that there are many out there who’ve thrown the value of longer lasting batteries out the window, and replaced it with whatever speed and screen quality there is.

I also thought well of ways to make the best of what we currently have.

Its simple: About 50% don’t really care about battery performance any longer. See  Poll Post in Android Community

And some Breakthroughs for the hopefuls

Breakthroughs in battery technologies keep popping up now and then, which are great news,

Yet, none of these breakthroughs have been realized in the ordinary users’ phone. Until that happens, we’ll need to make the best of what we have.

So, how exactly can you optimize battery power?

So, how can you get the Best of Battery Performance from your Smartphone? Here are some tips I personally have tried and tested through experience, and found to work well for the most part. Let’s get going then:

The question I received which spawned this post was from a user on Google+ called Rauno Tegelmann, and I quote him:

“Any tips beside Greenify and amplify? I can’t even reach 3 hours SoT with 12 hours. No big drainers beside screen and android system also”

He asked, after I shared the images below in the Android Community.  In response, I shared the points below (of which I expand a bit here too). See the related post. +Rauno Tegelmann I don’t even use Greenify or amplify or similar apps.

You asked about tips so here we go:

1) Always use Automatic Screen Brightness (Adaptive Brightness): Its automatic, and it will make the right brightness choices for you, about 99% correct too. I find many users going through the pain of always adjusting their screen brightness to match the time of the day and the lighting conditions around. Epic troubles! With automatic brightness, that is handled gently. Why do you think its called Smartphone? Why would you wanna do smart things for your phone when its called ‘Smart–‘?

Unless your Android version does not have the automatic screen brightness feature. Otherwise, USE it! No questions asked. On Android L, there’s the LiveDisplay (at least on CyanogenMod) which even regulates the ‘tone’ of the screen  brightness depending on the time of day.

You should probably find this option under your “Display & Lights” in Settings, at least that’s where it is on CM (I don’t remember where stock ROM throw their setting arrangements at!)

2) No antivirus, No greeni-whatever-fy’s: Unless you download apps from crazy places from online, why should you need Antivirus on your Android phone? How and Why? Such apps run using system resources consuming Phone performance, which in turn drains battery. As long as you download your apk’s from +Google Play Store or +APK Mirror or similar serious app stores, like Amazon or the like, you’re safe and do not need any antivirus whatever. They’re gimmick and waste of battery power.

When I see Antivirus on phones that belong to my friends, I nearly hit my head on a wall, because I hardly can comprehend, why on earth you will use an Antivirus. For those with Windows background, anti-virus might be part and parcel of how they view Operating Systems. However, I can assure you, if your operating system still critically depends on Anti-virus, then its about time…. Android lives on Linux, so its almost a breeze ride, as long as you make sure you grab the right files from the right places.

Then there’re these so-called apps that help you optimize your battery, ‘greenifiers’ or whatever. Well, I personally am not a fan of those crazy apps. I doubt they really work because, the last thing I wish to do is use an app to check apps, whereby the ‘app’ checking the apps is using system resources 24/7 to check the apps that don’t run 24/7. How weird. Maybe I do not fully understand how those things work, partly because I’ve never used them before, but I hardly see any sense. Without them, I clocked 9 hours Screen-on-time. With them, I doubt I could achieve that feat!

I remember there was an app on my Sony Xperia Z2 stock ROM which had something to do with regulating phone temperature. In fact, it was the main cause of the phone heating. Seriously! Simply because this app goes a long way to try and suppress the normal functioning of other apps, which might not be as smooth as it should, leading to some kinda ‘aggression’ involved (if persuasion fails, force is applied?). Such contention doesn’t always leave the battery in good shape.

Avoid apps that claim to help you maximize your battery. Take these simple steps above and below, and you’re good to get battery juice the way you want. You want Orange-flavored or Pineapple-flavored Battery Juice?

3) Set auto-screen turn off to lower seconds: I set mine to 30 Seconds, and I’ve used that. After a fresh install, setting my auto-screen turn off to 30 seconds is one of my 5-checklist items.

Reading apps like Google Play Books and Adobe PDF Reader all have the setting to lock screen on, if you’re reading, so setting a lower seconds value can help. I know a friend who’s phone screen remains on for some 2 minutes before going off. Then it spends some time before even going to standby mode. If you’re not using the screen, why should it be on? Unless you’re the type who leaves your TV turned even if you’re in the backyard gardening. And I wouldn’t encourage that too.

Set the screen to turn off immediately if the phone remains idle. And that links to the next point…

4) Explicitly turn off your screen if you know you’re not using it immediately. On CM, turning off the screen is as easy as double-tap on notification bar, and screen on is just a tripple-tap on the screen when screen is off. Seems like something huge, but can save you battery juice for those extra seconds. Every second counts.

I use the screen to turn on or off my screen. Sounds, and it really feels great! Your phone is awesome when we want it to handle certain smart tasks for us. However, at some points, we need to help it make not just smart choices, but ‘wise’. Show your phone you’re the boss by turning your screen off when you don’t need to use it immediately. The moment you forget, you’re assured your smartphone will do so in 30 seconds time.

Some call it redundancy, others say, don’t entertain a ‘single point of failure’ (networking guys, I’m looking at you). Whichever way, screen should be off when unneeded!

5) As much as possible, use WiFi instead of phone network for browsing. This might not appear as a big culprit, but trust me, it is! In fact, its the second most battery draining task I can do with my phone, which is using 3G or higher continuously.

HSDPA or 3G or even 4G are real battery hoggers. Its not their fault, they need more power to deliver the speed you demand. Outsourcing that job to a router sitting somewhere plugged into power will mean you phone only enjoys easy speedy connection which is not harsh on battery. My battery lasts less than half the battery performance you see above if I use HSDPA. Using 3G will even make it worse. 4G? It won’t last perhaps even 2 hours. WiFi should be your thing, as much as possible. I use a MiFi from Vodafone, which runs on battery, makes it portable I can carry around, so I hardly rely on Phone Data, unless I really have to.

6) Use a Stable ROM (that is, if you use a Custom ROM) Unstable ROM can mean system resources are improperly managed thus leading to lots of useless apps or services running behind the scenes causing unnecessary battery drain. A stable ROM is PRICELESS.

On the other hand Stock ROM don’t also necessary mean they’re stable. So not so fast, if you’re thinking of switching to Stock. I left Sony Stock ROM because they were buggy, inefficient, runs lots of useless garbage, and tons of unnecessary apps.

Remember I mentioned an app from Sony that used to handle anti-heating of the phone? Yeah, that’s a classic example.

7) Use recommended phone charging means: This might not sound as an obvious point, but its essential. Your phone, in fact, all phones come with a charger in their package. Why do you think OEMs include a charger in the phone? Well yes, it helps the user get up and running quickly when the phone is purchased.

Another plus is, these charges are most of the time tailored for whatever phone in context, thus it’ll make sense to charge the phone with the battery the phone comes with. I have never charged my phone using either a different charger or even a different cable other than the original USB cable the phone came with. If your phone came with a USB cable and charger, it’s not because the OEM doesn’t know what to do with the chargers, but its simply because they know the phone and charger will be the best companion in keeping your phone battery strong and fresh for a long time.

With this practice, I still notice my battery charges just around the same time it took when I bought the phone the first time. The battery is still strong and last almost without any difference from how it used to be.

8) This is a personal preference and perhaps less of a fact. Use Dark themes and Black Home-screen Wallpaper. Sounds crazy? Tell me it does, and I can leave you off the hook.

Above are some of the tips I use personally to get more juice from my little 3,200 mAh battery. I hope it helps you too.

About Rexford Nkansah

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