How Do You Manage Battery Life On Your Smartphone?

BitDefender released its Power Tune-Up battery management app for Android a few weeks ago, and I was keen to see how it compared to the ones I've tried in the past. It turns out that BitDefender's solution is more of a problem, which was disappointing but not entirely surprising. After many years of trying all sorts of so-called "power management" apps on a variety of Android handsets, I'm starting to wonder if I'm doing something wrong.

The battery inside my faithful Motorola Atrix appears to be on its last legs -- I can't get through half a day with moderate usage. That probably has contributed to my unsatisfactory experience with power management apps, but even on other, newer phones I've found them to be only useful for batch-stopping apps. Power Tune-Up also had a major flaw in that it was inaccurate at detecting how much time I had left before the battery ran out of juice.

I've tried popular apps like JuiceDefender, Go Power Master, a variety of battery calibration tools and techniques, as well as the root-only SetCPU to underclock my devices in the hope that the battery would last longer. These apps have been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times and consistently achieve high user ratings on Google Play.

My biggest problem is that many of these apps don't actually give you control over your phone so you can optimise performance -- it takes over your phone and shuts down essential apps and services, rendering your device almost unusable. If the app is going to cut off 3G access, dim the screen to the point I can't see anything and slow everything to a crawl, the phone may as well be dead altogether.

How do you manage battery life on your phone? Do you use apps or manually make tweaks as needed? Tell us how you do it in the comments.

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Comments

    Lol, Android.

      Thank you for this insightful comment.

        never mind him, he's just jealous

    use an custom rom which is optimized for battery life , its also should come with options to shut down app which you dont want hogging your memory or loading

      I had CyanagonMod for a while... but it took up too much internal memory. I kept being bugged to make room and would stop receiving text messages :(

        Is the atrix even in cyanogens supported device list? Surely theres a rom more suited to your phone (i dont know much for motorolas so i cant comment)

        All the battery saving apps are generally useless I find.

        Just look on your phone what is using the most battery and disable that or turn it down so it doesnt use as much, ie. dont have your phone on max brightness or maybe turn push off one or two mailboxes you dont often use.

        or just get an aftermarket battery with a bit more juice in it.

    Batteries are a finite resource, so if my battery runs out doing what I need it to do then it runs out. However since I'm at work all day I can leave it on charge there, I can charge it in the car and I have a Pebble charger in my laptop bag (that can charge anything).

    You shouldn't need to cut features on your phone to use it. Seriously, changing the CPU speed? That's what we've come to?

    I've tried a few dedicated apps (Including forking out for the top level JuiceDefender app), but these days I just focus on good system management.

    My Nexus S runs Matr1x's ICS CFS Kernel, with lulzactiv as the governor. CPU is set to max of 1000mhz, and min of 100mhz, with deep idle enabled.

    Tasker automates wifi polling, and automatically disables wifi within 2 minutes of me loosing wifi connection. Tasker also automatically enables and disables GPS for the apps I actually want to use it with.

    I have chargers available at home, in the car, and at work for when I need them.

    Between those three things, I've found that battery life is as good as it ever has been on my phone.

    JuiceDefender uses more juice than it saves.. try these things

    Y5 (app) - turns off Wifi when away from home - remembers 'cell towers' to know where home is
    Turn screenbrightness to automatic

      Juice Defender does both of those things, and a lot more if you take the time to set it up.

    with my htc legend ( yes so old) the best life extending option has been to manually control the screen brightness. single home even with the top right icon dedicated to screen brightness. running cyanogenmod now gives me the option to remove program permissions like start at boot. background services like facebook and Skype are not required and chew through your battery and males the phone slow.

      makes not males, dam predictive keyboard.

    I just have power setting widgets and make sure I turn off radio services that I am not using. Sometimes I might even use Tasker to say turn off Bluetooth when it disconnects from my car in the mornings.

    I turn off data when it gets too low :(

    I've just started using Llama, another location aware app similar to Tasker. Plenty of scope to conserve battery life and far more control and contextuality than a battery saving app, though it takes more setting up to achieve that.
    The reminder I set to plug it in to charge 30 minutes after arriving at work has had more positive benefit than anything else.

    CyanogenMod 7 ROM + Auto Brightness set on

    Using this combo, my Nexus One is on 85% battery after being at work the full 8-hours.

    During the day I have Wifi Off, Gmail sync, Facebook sync, 3G Data On, Auto Brightness On

    I don't play any games during the day though.

    Like 66biscuits, I also use Llama and recommend it but I don't use it for setting up battery saving features.

    WP7 has a battery saver mode. When your battery hits 20% remaining it goes into saver mode, disabling background apps and such, but you can still use it normally.
    Lets you squeeze an extra few hours out of the phone.

    Same here. I have a Motorola Defy+ and turn all radios on and off by hand through widgets on my home screen when I need them. I don't have any app that requires regular updates from anywhere. Even 3G is off normally. I'll be rooting my phone in a little while when I have time to rip out some things like weather, voice, social and other rubbish I can't stop otherwise and never use.
    I'm not a heavy phone user, use it predominantly for calling/texting, very occasionally for internetting and getting my email. It's my agenda/contact list and that's pretty much it. Some time recording, and whenever I'm lost I have Sygic to tell me where to go next. Nothing requires constant internet connectivity and I don't give a foot about getting regular updates from facebook about my friends.
    Usually get 4-5 days easy and use battery monitor widget to see what's happening with the battery.
    Apps that can't be configured to get out of memory when not in use usually have a very short life on my phone.

      I use setvsel to undervolt my Defy+, rooted and remove crapwares with titanium backup. Now it takes 4 days and a few hours to drop from 90% to 30% (I charge it partially)

    I don't manage my battery. Use your phone, charge it every night. If it doesn't last, it's not the phone for you.

    If it's a case of the battery being on its 'last legs' - if it's a replacable battery, replace it.

    I can't understand why someone would get a device then spend all their time disabling parts of it just to make it last long enough. A waste.

    +1 for buying a new battery, but I find I last a lot longer if I disable Wifi and Bluetooth. Wifi constantly searches for networks so disabling it can get a few hours more out of my day.

    But I also keep a bunch of charging cables in my usual haunts. I have one plugged in to my work PC for when I'm at my desk, one in the car for the trip home, one in my room at home for charging while computing and one in the kitchen for overnight charges. As long as I'm in the habit of plugging them in when I'm at those places, I'm always charged. And when you can buy charging cables off eBay for a few dollars each, it's not that expensive.

    Straight off the bat I noticed a massive improvement after switching to Cyanogen Mod 7. Addtionally I use Juice Defender to control data, wifi etc, and that's made a bit of an impact too.

    For amoled screens (I.e. Samsung phones), use a dark theme (including theme able apps).

    I use Tasker to dull the screen when on standby or looking at Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, etc.
    I left out all the picture apps, though - that's what my AMOLED is for, so I want it to be nice and bright for that.

      +1 for Tasker.
      Everyone uses their phone differently. Tasker when programmed properly will allow you to trim usage where you feel comfortable.

    On my Gnex i use AOKP Build 35 and Franco Kernel, get about 2 1/2 days use of with it.

    On my HTC Desire I use MIUI-XJ X-PART ROM 2.3.30 with stock kernel and juice defender. Battery seems to be lasting a lot longer since I installed JD. Brightness is set on constant 1/3rd, Wi-Fi only at home and Bluetooth off most of the time. Background data enabled, auto sync disabled. I use only what I need, when I need. With this setup, the battery usually lasts about 35-40Hrs.

    A smartphone isn't smart if you have to turn off all the functionality to get through the day.
    Chargers are the only answer. Leave them everywhere you might go.

    Simple, I've never bought one.

    I try not to stress about it. I turn off the battery percentage display so I can't obsess over it. Deny anything asking for notification or location permission that doesn't need it. Pop the phone on a charge if I'm at my desk or in the car. Leave it charge overnight. Other then that I use it however I want with no restrictions. If I get to the point where I run out of juice before the end of the day I might look into it, but that hasn't happened yet.

    The whole battery saving obsession reminds me of when I used to spend way too much time obsessing over tweaking my computer to wring every last ounce of performance out of it. Adjusting the interface, turning off services and features etc. One day I said "screw it", and just started using it as is. And everything was fine :)

    That said, I guess it depends what you are using your phone for.

    I keep background data off, then just use the stock task manager that comes with the RAZR to kill certain apps I've opened if I haven't used them in a while, otherwise I've found its better to just let android do its thing and kill apps when needed, many battery "savers" are inefficient as they will kill an app that will then just be re-opened automatically and closed again, this uses resources that don't need to be, just leaving the app in the background in an almost hibernated state is far more efficient.

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