Android Battery Basics: How to Make Your Google Phone Last Longer

Extend your Android device's battery life and do more on the go with these quick and easy tips, from's mobile expert Al Sacco.

Thu, March 31, 2011

CIO — Google Android smartphones excel in many areas; a wide variety of quality hardware options; slick software interfaces; valuable and entertaining applications; endless customization possibilities; etc.

But lots of Android devices, particularly the 4G--and faux-4G ones--are less than impressive in terms of battery life.

Android Battery Manager on Motorola Atrix 4G

Thankfully, with planning and insight, you can maximize your Google Android battery life. Follow these tips and tricks to get the most out of your Google Android device.

(Also read, "Android Security: Six Tips to Protect Your Google Phone," for my list of Android security best practices.)

Manage Android Wireless Radio Options Wisely

The majority of new Google Android smartphones and tablets pack a variety of wireless radios: a cellular radio for mobile network connectivity; a Wi-Fi radio; GPS; and Bluetooth; etc. And all of these radios can--and will--drastically reduce your Android battery life if not used and managed wisely.

You should turn off all wireless radios when you're not using them. When you leave home and go out of range of your personal Wi-Fi network, turn off Wi-Fi so it doesn't constantly attempt to detect or connect to other networks. And when you're done using that Bluetooth headset, switch off Bluetooth. The same goes for GPS.

Some location-based applications and services require that you activate your GPS to function properly. But some of them also constantly attempt to pinpoint your location, even when they're not in use, by contacting the closest nearby satellites or cell towers and draining your precious battery life in the process.

To disable wireless radio options, open your Android Settings, click Wireless & networks, and "un-check" the boxes next to the radio-options you're not currently using. To turn off GPS, open the Location & security settings page within Android Settings, and remove the check from the box next to Use GPS Satellites.

It's also a good idea, from a battery-life- and security-perspective, to turn off any mobile hotspot services your device may offer when they're not in use. You can turn mobile hotspot on and off within the Android Settings menu.

Many Android devices let you create home screen widgets for each wireless radio so you don't need to dig through your settings every time you want to turn them on or off.

Conserve Android Battery by Minimizing Screen Brightness, Timeout

As a general rule of thumb, the brighter your Android screen, the higher the drain on your battery. Some types of displays are more energy efficient than others, but it's still a good idea to reduce your screen brightness to the lowest comfortable level to conserve power. And you can also reduce the time it takes for your display to power itself down when not in use to maximize battery life.

To reduce your screen brightness, open up your Android Settings menu, click Display. Depending on your Android OS version, you may see an option for Automatic Brightness. This setting automatically dims or brightens your display based on the surrounding light levels. But it can drain the battery by randomly increasing screen brightness.

Uncheck the Automatic Brightness option to manually increase or decrease your screen brightness, and then find the lowest setting that will work for you.

To shorten your screen-timeout, open the Screen timeout menu within your Android Settings, and choose one of the lowest values.

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