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Lesson 3: Extending your Android Device’s Battery Life

The same goes for Bluetooth. Do you use a headset? Or are you playing music to a Bluetooth speaker? Or are you using a keyboard with your Android device? Bluetooth is definitely great but it’s only something that you use for specific applications and at certain times. Honestly, most of the time you probably don’t even need Bluetooth.

To turn off Bluetooth, open the settings.

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Or use your “Quick Access” settings.

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Then there’s the way your phone sends and receives data. Obviously, if you’re on a tight data plan, you want to use Wi-Fi but when you leave the house, your phone will automatically switch to its mobile data while Wi-Fi remains on. The result is that your phone is constantly searching for an access point, even though you may be driving around running errands.

The best thing to do is to open your settings and turn off WiFi if you know you’ll be out for a while or if you’re going on a road trip.

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Or use your “Quick Access” settings.

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Finally, there’s a wonderful thing called LTE, otherwise known as 4G. It makes your data really fast so you can stream audio and video without hiccups, or surf the Internet without seeming to wait forever on some things to load. Problem is LTE not only uses data faster, it also kills your battery faster too.

We can’t recommend turning LTE off as a matter of policy but you can dial it back if you’re out in the country or somewhere where coverage is spotty. To do this open your settings and tap “More,” then “Mobile networks.” On this screen you can perform a variety of tasks, but if you click the “Preferred network type,” you can restrict the phone to the type of network it uses.

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Battery settings

Let’s focus on Android-specific things you can pay attention to prolong your battery’s functionality between trips to the charger. Note, there’s a whole group of settings devoted solely to “Battery.” Opening it reveals some unsurprising results.

As you can see screen use leads the pack followed by the Maps application we’d been using for navigation.

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If we click on the Maps app, we see how much time it ran, how long it kept the device awake, and so on.

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Note also, the buttons at the bottom, particularly the “Location” button, which will open to the previously discussed “Location” settings.

Wakelocks

Imagine you’re lying there at night and you can’t sleep because you’ve got these nagging thoughts on your mind. You might finally fall asleep, but it’s usually so late that when you wake the next day, you feel drained and exhausted.

Android devices may not think about bills and taxes and other things that weigh heavily on humans, but there are things that keep them up, preventing them from ever fully falling asleep. These are called “wakelocks” and they can easily drain your battery. In fact, it’s a good bet that unless your phone is so old that the battery has worn out, wakelocks are a likely culprit for your meager battery life.

The fact is, simply closing apps only shuts down the process working in the foreground. The real culprits, background processes, are the things that are really to blame for your poor battery life.

There’s a fairly easy way to see if you have a wakelock. Open the aforementioned battery settings and tap on the battery history (the line graph with the length of time the device has been on battery). This will open to your “history details.”

The thing you want to pay attention to is the comparison between “Awake” and “Screen on.” Logically, the times at which you use the phone are the times when the screen is on and thus the phone should then turn “off” or go into deep sleep. In the following example we see there are times at which the phone is awake even while it’s not being used.

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If you see you’re having similar problems and restarting your device isn’t fixing the situation, it might be time to investigate further.

Diagnosing Battery Troubles

Unfortunately, the tools included with Android, while useful, don’t go far enough in helping you diagnose wakelocks. Fortunately, there are tools that can help you with this problem.

How-To Geek recommends you use Wakelock Detector available in the Play Store. We even cover how to use the app in great detail.

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Sometimes fixing battery issues are just a simple matter of restarting the device and, sometimes, your device’s battery gets to the point where it can no longer adequately hold a charge. When it comes to ultimately figuring out why your battery life sucks, you should take everything in to consideration, not just what kinds of things you’re doing, but how old the device is and how much stress the battery has endured.

Conclusion

At this point we hope you have a much better grasp on battery issues. Not only what causes them but how you affect battery performance. It’s important to know that batteries don’t last forever but you can take pains to ensure they last as long as possible.

In the next lesson, we will explore things that affect your device’s performance as well as cover the gamut of security features Android has to offer.

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Born and brainwashed an Ohio State Buckeye, Matt now lives a warm, snow-free life just north of the Texas/Mexico border. He fancies himself a modern-day jack-of-all-trades; favorite conversation starters include operating systems, Android, BBQ, quantum physics, and roller skating.

  • Published 04/23/14