Ask LH: Why Is My Battery Performance So Variable?

Ask LH: Why Is My Battery Performance So Variable?

Hi Lifehacker, Why does the battery life of my phone vary so much? Some charges last for a day or two and others last less than 12 hours. I’m certain that I’m not downloading anything in the background or doing anything that would drain the battery faster than normal. I have a Nokia Lumia 920. Any thoughts? Thanks, Drain Pain

Dear DP,

Variation in battery life is normal. Phone calls, app downloads, internet browsing, photo uploads, video playback and various other factors drain battery at different rates. You may not think the nature of your usage varies much, but the reality is a lot less uniform.

For example, the number of calls you make and their duration obviously changes from day to day. Similarly, sometimes you might happen to use your phone outside more, with the screen’s automatic brightness level adjusting accordingly. There are countless permutations like this which can change how long your battery lasts in-between charges.

The amount of juice left on your battery when you plug it in for a re-charge can also affect how long it lasts. According to the Battery University website, the smaller the depth of discharge, the longer the battery will last. In other words, try to “top up” your battery instead of waiting for it to go completely dead. (Partial discharges on Li-ion batteries do not shorten the lifespan; there is no memory involved.)

While it’s difficult to keep your phone’s battery on a rigid schedule, there are ways to make it last longer in general. Manually adjusting your phone’s brightness to the lowest setting can net you a few extra hours of battery life compared to the maxed out setting. Shutting down apps rather than keeping them running in the background has also been found to improve battery life.

If you want to learn more about what’s eating into your battery, try installing a battery tracking app like Battery Sense and Nokia’s own Battery Monitor. You can also glean some relevant tips from our iPhone and Android battery saver guides.

If any readers have additional battery extending tips to share, let DP know in the comments section below.

Cheers Lifehacker

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  • I’ve found that wireless networks (that is, WiFi, phone networks and sometimes Bluetooth) can vary my phone’s battery life.

    At my desk, there’s not a lot of phone signal, so if WiFi is off, my phone will be dead before lunchtime. If it’s on, it’ll last until the end of the night (and if I forget to charge it overnight, it’ll still have a tiny bit of charge left). Conversely, if I’m not near a WiFi point I can connect to and WiFi is on, it’ll drain a little quicker, because it’s seeking a network to connect to

    4G is also a big battery killer on phones like the HTC One XL (according to my brother, who went from 6 hours of battery to more than 24 by disabling 4G

  • I have a problem similar to this on my Nokia 920, most days its OK but every now and then, for no apparent reason it wont make it much past lunch. I did see a you tube video with some battery saving tips such as disabling connection to Xbox live and that sort of thing, which i did and it seems to have less problems now, but still happens every now and then.

    • That weird. I got my Nokia 920 basically as soon as it came out so its should have some wear and tear you normally get with a phones battery life that they get after a while, but my phone on its shortest will last a day and a half and 3 days on its longest. I have my phone with me all the time, I roughly get about 20 phone calls a day and I play games on it.

  • I have a nexus 4 when fully charged at night i power it off, next morning it has lost about 10 % charge for each hour it has been off, does anyone know why, it is a stock device except i downloaded 4.3.

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