How to See Which Apps Are Draining Your Battery on an Android Phone or Tablet

By Chris Hoffman on March 15th, 2016

If your Android phone is feeling a little low on battery, you can find out exactly where your battery power is going. Android’s Battery screen shows you what’s used battery power since your last charge, from apps to system services and hardware devices.

How to Access the Battery Screen

This information is found on the Battery screen in the Settings app. Open the “Settings” app from your app drawer and tap the “Battery” option under Device to access it.

You can also pull down the quick actions panel in the notifications shade and tap the battery icon to go straight to this screen.

The Battery screen will only show battery usage since the last full charge. If you’ve just recently charged your phone or tablet, it won’t be very helpful. Ideally, you’ll want to check this screen when your device is fairly low on battery to get an idea of what apps, hardware components, and system services actually used battery power throughout the day.

Assuming your device has been running for long enough, you’ll get a good luck at exactly what’s been draining battery power and when it happened. You can tap an app or service to view more detailed information.

Get More Advanced Battery Stats with Third-Party Apps

Android actually collects a lot more battery usage information than it displays on the Battery settings screen. Previously, it was possible for an app like Better Battery Stats to request the BATTERY_STATS permission and access this information. You could then view more detailed battery statistics–for example, you could view information about wakelocks or view battery usage for periods of time not displayed in the Battery screen.

Unfortunately, with Android 4.4 KitKat, Google removed this permission from Android and apps can normally not view it. If you’ve rooted your Android device, you can still install an app like Better Battery Stats to view more detailed information on battery usage. But without rooting, you’re stuck with the information provided by Android’s built-in Battery screen because these apps just can’t see that data.

What Are All These Hardware and System Services?

You can get more information about how to prevent a hardware component or service from draining your battery by tapping it. Apps are self-explanatory–they use battery power when you have them open and may also run in the background. Here’s what all the non-app items in the list are:

  • Screen: This is the amount of power used by the screen and its backlight. Your screen will always use a significant amount of power. It’ll always use some power when it’s on, but you can reduce that by lowering your screen brightness and configuring Android to turn the screen off when you’re not using it.
  • Wi-Fi: This shows amount of power used by your device’s Wi-Fi radio. It’ll always use some amount of power when you’re connected to Wi-Fi. You could save some power by disabling WI-Fi when you’re not using a Wi-Fi network–for example, when just using cellular data.
  • Cell Standby: Assuming you’re using a device with a cellular connection, that cellular radio is always using some power. If you have a weak cellular signal, this could result in higher power usage.
  • Android OS: This accounts for all the battery power used by the underlying Android operating system, which manages your running processes, interfaces with your hardware, and does all that low-level stuff.
  • Android System: Despite the name, this is separate from the Android operating system itself. It represents the battery power used by things like the Settings app itself, input devices, and various other system services. You could make it use a bit less battery power by enabling battery saver mode.
  • Google Services: This includes a variety of services, including Google Play Services, the Google account manager, Google services framework, and Google backup transport. This is just another package of services used by your Android device. Battery saver mode can reduce power used by these background processes in a pinch, too.
  • Phone idle or Tablet idle: Your Android device uses some amount of power just because it’s on, even if it’s completely idle in a low-power state.
  • Users: If you have multiple user accounts set up on your Android phone or tablet, you’ll see a separate “User” item for each user here. This helps you understand how much other user accounts contributed to your battery usage.

How to Save Battery on Your Android Phone

You probably already know you can lower your screen brightness, disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when you aren’t using them, and employ other tricks to reduce battery life. But there’s a lot more you can do beyond that, too.

If the Battery screen shows that an app is using a lot of battery power, you may want to remove or replace it. Apps will definitely appear on your Battery screen if you actually use them, but some apps are heavier than others–for example, a demanding 3D game will use more battery power than the average app. Some apps also run in the background and use power even when you aren’t actively using them.  It’s not possible to entirely prevent apps from running in the background, but you may be able to disable background sync in an app’s settings. If not, you could uninstall or disable the app, and use an alternative–like Facebook’s battery-friendly mobile site.

Other Android features can also help you save power. Battery saver mode puts your device into a more conservative state where less background work will be allowed, and you can have your phone automatically enable it for you. Doze helps save power when you aren’t using your phone or moving it around, and you can make Doze even more powerful.


The Battery screen will show you where your battery power went, but it’s up to you to do something with that information. It’s a good starting point when you want to start saving battery power, but Google has unfortunately limited access to more detailed battery usage information. Still, the included Battery screen should be more than enough information for Android users who aren’t geeks. It’s just be nice to have access to information from more time periods, especially if you’ve recently charged your device–for example, battery usage data from the last 24 hours would be helpful.

Similar features are available on Microsoft’s Windows 10, Apple’s iPhones and iPads, and Mac OS X. You can see exactly what’s been using battery power and make informed decisions to prolong your battery life.

Image Credit: TechStage on Flickr

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 03/15/16
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