11 tips to increase the battery life of your Android phone

Top-tier Android smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S5 and HTC One (M8) are powerful, but unfortunately, they don’t have unlimited battery life. In fact, many Android phone users would be happy to spend a single day, hoping that an overnight top-up will suffice.

Unfortunately, sometimes it is not. Several factors have conspired to reduce device endurance in recent years. Slimmer designs with less room for batteries, bigger and brighter screens, faster quad-core processors, more software running in the background, and power-hungry GPS radios all share the blame. The switch from 3G to 4G networks a few years ago, particularly of the LTE variety, has also taken its toll.

But there’s a lot more to poor battery life results than that. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to stop the flow of juice from your Android device. I used a Google Nexus 5 to write this article, as it runs the latest version of Android 4.4 KitKat with no additional interface improvements, but these tips should apply to almost any Android phone. Try these tips to extend your phone’s battery life:

1. See what is sucking up the most juice. Go to Settings > Battery to see an organized breakdown of what’s consuming your phone’s battery. Apps and features will be displayed in a descending list of battery hogs. If you see an app you rarely use or a feature you never use, you’ll want to uninstall the app or disable the feature.

2. Reduce email, Twitter, and Facebook surveys. Set your various messaging apps to “manual” for polling or refresh rate, just as a test, and you’ll instantly extend your device’s battery life by a significant amount. Once you see the difference it makes, try re-enabling only the most important ones, possibly reducing your polling rate in the process.

3. Turn off unnecessary hardware radios. It’s great that phones today have LTE, NFC, GPS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth, but do you really need all five on 24/7? Android keeps location-based apps residing in the background, and constant battery drain will quickly become noticeable. If your phone has a power control widget, you can use it to quickly turn on/off GPS (largest power consumption), NFC, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and LTE. On standard Android, swipe down to bring up the notification bar, then tap the icon in the top right corner.

4. Use extra power saving mode if you have it. The aforementioned Galaxy S5 and HTC One (M8) have Ultra Power Saving and Extreme Power Saving modes, respectively, which limit the phone to text messages, phone calls, web browsing, and Facebook. This can squeeze out additional hours or even a day of standby time with just a few percentage points of battery remaining.

5. Cut apps running in the background. From Settings > Apps, swipe left; you will see a list of applications that are currently running. Tap each one to see what they’re for; you can stop any app that doesn’t need to run in the background all the time.

6. Get rid of unnecessary home screen widgets and live wallpapers. Just because they’re sitting on the home screen, seemingly idle, doesn’t mean they’re not drawing power. This applies to widgets that poll for status updates in the background, as well as those that just sit there but look nice and animated, not to mention the animated live wallpaper. (But don’t throw everything away, as part of what makes Android great are the home screen customizations; just remove the ones you don’t use.)

7. Lower the brightness and disable auto brightness. It’s probably obvious at this point, but you’d be surprised how much this one alone helps improve battery life.

8. Update your apps. Apps are often updated to use less battery power, so you need to make sure your apps are up to date. Even if you’ve set your phone for automatic updates, some apps still require you to install updates manually. Check for app updates on Google Play by pressing the menu key and going to My apps.

9. Keep an eye on the signal strength. If you are in an area with poor cell coverage, your phone will work harder to pick up a strong enough signal. This has an adverse effect on battery life. There’s not much you can do about it, but be aware that this could be the culprit behind a seemingly weak battery; it’s worth putting your phone in airplane mode if you don’t need data or voice calls.

10. Check the reviews. We run battery life tests on every Android phone we review. Unsurprisingly, the results vary a lot between phones, even on the same network. When choosing a phone, make sure it has enough real-world talk time. You can’t go by what the manufacturer says; we see variations on the order of several hours of use in both directions on a regular basis.

11. Buy a larger battery box or extended battery. Battery cases combine a hardware shell, which protects your phone, with an extended battery that can double the life of your phone. You can find models compatible with popular Android phones from a variety of manufacturers.

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