How to extend the battery life of your Android smartphone

The easiest way to increase battery life is to install Juice Defender (free on Google Play or you can get ‘Plus’ for $1.99 or ‘Ultimate’ for $5.99). Juice Defender (pictured below) gives you three different profiles that each give increasingly better battery life by disabling different system features. The main thing it will disable is constant background data – it’s the biggest user of battery – instead turning on your sync and other background connections at regular user selectable intervals (say every hour).

Now installing an app like this may not be for everyone especially those that want instant notification of any GTalk Twitter Facebook etc messages (such as myself). But irrespective of if you opt for Juice Defender or not there are some basic things you can do to improve battery life.

Avoid ‘task manager’ apps; forcefully exiting an app and flushing it from RAM – then later opening it again – will consume more CPU/battery than if you’d just left it in Android’s RAM cache. Android is perfectly capable of handling background apps and should be left alone.

However some wayward apps may be chewing up your battery. To see if you have such an app go to ‘Settings > About phone > Battery usage’ and see what apps are up the top. The two biggest consumers should be Android OS and Display. If there is an app there that you seldom use with say more than 15% CPU usage have a look through its settings to see if you can disable background notifications or if there is an ‘exit’ button hidden in the app’s menu (such as with Skype).

You should only enable Bluetooth when you need it. Wi-Fi is a little more complicated. I use Locale which requires frequent location information. Wi-Fi provides a less battery-intensive method of determining location of GPS so I leave it enabled all the time. I’ve never noticed a real difference between a day with Wi-Fi disabled and a day with it enabled so I’m happy to leave it on. You should note that a Wi-Fi connection uses less battery than a mobile data connection so it’s definitely worth turning on when you’re near a connectable access point.

The GPS toggle is also a good way to save a bit of battery as the GPS chip will consume a fair chunk of battery when in use. However the GPS toggle unlike the Wi-Fi or Bluetooth toggles doesn’t actually turn the GPS chip on and off; it simply gives Android the permission to use the GPS chip when location is requested by an application. When GPS is disabled you can still get an approximate location from a combination of Wi-Fi and Cellular triangulation which should serve for most purposes (navigation will greatly benefit from GPS access).

The biggest way to save battery life however is in user training; stop pulling your phone out of your pocket every 5 minutes to see if you’ve missed anything – it’s the digital equivalent of idly opening the fridge to see if you missed anything tasty the last time. Didn’t your mother tell you that was wasteful?