Android: Power Saving

24.4.2012
Smartphones are only built to last for a day, or at least the power supply is. All the same, it is possible to extend the battery life for a little longer than you're getting at the moment and, with careful management, they should be able to get you from dawn to dusk and even beyond when you need them to. Here's how.

Wi-Fi off
Wi-Fi is great when you're at home, in an office or somewhere you can actually use a WLAN but there's no point in leaving the Wi-Fi antenna on while you're out and about. When you're busy taking in the world, it's going to be frantically scanning your environment for any wireless signal it can find and that takes its toll on the battery. With smartphones stretched to make it through the day on a single charge, you're best off saving that juice for other things.

Bluetooth off
Likewise Bluetooth is another classic drain on your phone's energy reserves. It's all very well that your handset is fitted with the very latest Bluetooth 3.0 standard but, if you don't actually use it, then turn it off.

Auto screen brightness
A brief look into your battery usage menu will be a bit of a wake up call as to just how much power your display alone uses up. We wouldn't suggest you don't watch videos or play games (after all, where would be the fun in owning a smartphone?) but we do recommend making sure your screen brightness level is set to automatic. Your handset's light sensor will detect just how much back-lighting your phone will need to create a display that you can see. Just a shame there's never enough under the hood for when you're in bright sunlight. Head into the Display menu off Settings and you'll find what you're looking for.

Power Saver Settings
All of the above can be switched automatically according to how much battery power you have left. Both HTC Sense and Samsung TouchWiz handsets come with a Power Saving menu within Settings where you can customise exactly that.

Task Manager
Another classic way of tearing through your battery is a tonne of power-hungry apps running in the background that you didn't even realise were still at it. If you're not careful, these things can wrack up and stick around all day long. The best way around this is to use the task manager or some kind of task killer app, with the appropriately named Taskiller the one that many opt for. Better still is to get a program monitor widget on your desktop and, indeed, some UI's such as Samsung's TouchWiz come with one pre-installed. They'll display loud and clear just how many processes are running in the background and let you end the ones you don't want any more.

Video and speaker sound
At the danger of teaching you to suck eggs, do bear in mind that video watching and playing music through your handset's speakers is going to nail your battery, so do think about how much of that stuff you do. While we're on the subject, playing games, using both ring and vibrate and at high volumes are all other things to keep your eye on. We're not saying don't have fun but these are all things worth considering if you're looking to curb your battery profile. There are plenty of battery usage apps as well as some in-phone menus that will give you an idea of what your largest drain on resources is. Hit the Settings menu for a better look and, if you find nothing there, head for the Android Market.

Spare Battery
If you really want to be smug, then do consider buying yourself a spare battery to carry around. That's the advantage of having phones with a removable battery. Of course, your next problem is remembering to swap batteries in and out of your phone to charge them up but we'll leave you to deal with that one.

Emergencies
When it really hits the fan, you're coasting on fumes and you need to stay in contact, then it's time to take drastic action to eke out your power for as long as you can. Turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth but as well kill synchronising, volume, vibrations, screen rotation, all background apps and turn your screen brightness right down. You can do most of this in the Settings menu which you can access by hitting the Menu key from the desktop. Once you've done all that, put your phone into your pocket and leave it there. No checking every 5 minutes to see how much power you've got left.