If you’re in a situation where you’re trying to conserve battery life, Then a few tweaks here and there can help squeeze out some extra hours.
You know, phones nowadays are like mini computers in your hand. They’ve got quad-core CPUs, crystal-clear screens crammed to the hilt with pixels. But with all these leaps in technology, we’re still lagging behind in the one thing that matters the most, Battery! Take the quad-core One X, A beautiful phone, capable of so much, but shackled with sub-par battery life. And I think that’s the case with a lot of today’s smartphones, especially those with a non-removable battery. Usually I get about nine hours of normal use from a single charge on the One X. But using the settings that I’m going to talk about here, I managed to get more than fourteen hours out of it, With twenty three percent battery still remaining. In normal use, on a default setting of 50 percent brightness, all connections including WiFi switched off, autosync off, and with a static wallpaper on the phone, I found that the One X’s battery drained by about two percent every ten minutes. So what I was looking for were those settings that gave less than two percent battery drain. I did twenty minute battery tests for all of them. The percentage results that I’ll give you are in ten minute segments, and they may seem small initially, but remember that even a one percent difference every ten minutes will add up over several hours. You know, saving battery life is all about making the CPU work less. And the biggest power hog on the phone is it’s display. The more you push those pixels about, the more power you’re going to need. So the first thing you need to do is minimise the screen-on time, without actually switching off the phone for good. The best way of doing this is to set your screen timeout really low. Go to settings, display and gestures, sleep, and change it there. The ideal is one minute or less. But that may drive you a bit crazy, having the phone cut out on you all the time. I tend to set it at two minutes, and that works pretty well for me. Also, try to let the CPU stay in deep sleep for as long as possible. Don’t wake the phone up constantly just to check the time or small things like that. You can save battery by waking the phone only when you need it for something substantial. So, let’s talk about screen brightness. You already know that at 50 percent brightness, I got two percent battery drain every ten minutes. So theoretically, if I reduce the brightness even more, I should get less battery drain. And that’s exactly what I got. One percent battery drain in ten minutes when the brightness was brought down to a low 20 percent. But, interestingly, when I set the phone to auto-brightness, I still got only one percent battery drain. So actually, you don’t need to manually set your screen brightness really low, Just enable auto-brightness; it does the same job, but makes your phone much more useable. Did you know that the type of wallpaper you use also has a big effect on battery life? Google Play store is full of fun live wallpapers, But obviously live wallpapers produce more CPU activity than static ones. More animation and effects mean more power consumption. So when you’re trying to save battery, go for a static wallpaper. But, there are differences between static wallpapers. A coloured wallpaper at 50 percent brightness showed two percent battery drain in ten minutes. While, a plain white wallpaper only showed one and a half percent battery drain. But a plain black one does even better, and only drains one percent battery every ten minutes. So, as far as wallpapers go, choosing a plain black static one is your best bet. But I don’t want to spoil all your fun. And there may be times when you just need to have a live wallpaper. Which is fine, but you have some adjusting to do. First, you need to know the type of live wallpaper you’re planning to use. Since, they’re not all optimised the same. I tested several on the One X’s Sense UI, and found that they can be broadly grouped into three types. There are the heavyweights, like Celtic Garden, which drained six percent battery in ten minutes. Middleweights, like Bubble Pro and Leaves on Water, which drained three percent battery in ten minutes. And the lightweights, like Magic Smoke, which drained two and a half percent battery in ten minutes. Now that was on Sense UI. Even though this new version of Sense, is less bloated than the versions before it, I’m still of the opinion that it’s not as power efficient as it could be. As far as battery life on the One X is concerned, Things get a lot better if you use a different launcher. Both Nova launcher and Apex only drained four percent battery running Celtic Garden. And two percent with the lightweight Magic Smoke. They do even better with just a static coloured wallpaper, Draining only one and a half percent battery in ten minutes compared to Sense UI’s two percent. So let me sum up my ideal settings so far. Set screen timeout to two minutes or less. Set screen brightness on auto. Use either Nova or Apex launcher, With a lightweight live wallpaper if you really must, Or just a plain black static wallpaper. Now let’s talk about network connections. My default setting for these tests was all connections, like bluetooth, GPS , WiFi and auto-sync turned off. The battery drain in ten minutes was two percent. When I left WiFi and auto-sync on continuously the battery drain jumped to three percent in ten minutes. That’s a whole extra percentage of battery loss that’ll add up every ten minutes, and it can easily be avoided. When you’re trying to save battery, keep your phone connections toggled off. Keep power saving toggle widgets on the homescreen for things like WiFi, so you can toggle these on and off quickly when you need to. Also, 3G and 4G use more battery than WiFi. So keep your data use to a minimum, and make sure your mobile data connection is turned off when you’re not using it, Otherwise it’ll keep running in the background. Turn auto-sync off completely and refresh your accounts manually. Facebook and Twitter apps are silent battery killers. If you’re in the habit of constantly checking Facebook, Then, when you’re trying to conserve battery life, You’re better off keeping it to a minimum and log out once you’re done, So that the app doesn’t keep auto-refreshing in the background. And a note about widgets here, A home-screen full of widgets that refresh over WiFi, drained four percent battery in ten minutes. So, that’s another reason to keep wi-fi toggled off. GPS is another thing to keep toggled off. Your phone doesn’t actively use GPS unless you’re running a GPS-enabled app like Google Maps. And you can see when GPS is active, because a symbol appears in the notification bar. Once you close that app, the GPS symbol disappears. But I think it’s good practice to keep it turned off anyway. Otherwise some location-based services may enable it in the background. Another thing to avoid is notification vibrations. Unless you’re somewhere where you really need it, like a library, turn off call vibrate. You should do the same for emails and messages by going into their individual settings. And while you’re at it, turn off haptic feedback in the settings menu. Unless you really like it, of course. But it’s a major battery drain. So basically, in this section, I’m asking you to turn off all your network connections. Activate them when you want. But get into the habit of toggling them off when you finish using them. With apps, you’re trying to minimize screen-on time and CPU processes. One very organized way to minimize screen-on time, is to keep your apps in folders, so you can quickly find the ones you want without too much scrolling. Like a folder for your most used apps, And maybe one for your favourite games. Same with music, If you keep your songs in playlists, you can let them play continuously, without having to turn the screen on and scroll through to choose the next song. Next I’d like to talk about task killer applications. I’ve used them in the past, but I’ve seen how they can sometimes slow down the phone. I’m probably going to go against the grain here, But I’m no longer a huge fan of aggressively emptying phone memory on a regular basis. The reason being that it’s the CPU process that affects battery life and not the RAM as much. So an app may be open in the background, but it’s usually only being held in a dormant state in memory and isn’t impacting on the CPU. The benefit of keeping an app in memory is that it will launch faster next time you open it, so using much less power. Of course, that’s what task killer applications do anyway. They quickly close everything down for you. But, like I just mentioned, you don’t need to be closing down your popular apps all the time. Also, the other problem with closing all background apps is that many of the system ones just start right up again, Draining extra battery power in the process. Also, unknowingly closing important background applications makes your phone sluggish. I found that rather than using a task killer, It’s much better to let the phone run as normal, And use an application like ‘Watchdog’ to keep track of how much CPU process each app is using. It alerts you if any rogue app starts to hog the CPU. Another simple but useful app is ‘CPU spy”. Ideally, if your phone is off for a while it should go into deep sleep to conserve battery. This app monitors how hard your CPU works, And shows you how much time your phone spends in deep sleep. The One X at the moment has really aggressive memory management of its own. If you leave an app, it’s closed down within thirty seconds, and so restarts from scratch when you return to it. I found that this was more of a battery drain. I tested it out with a lot of apps open at the same time, browser, games, music and such. And the battery drain over ten minutes of just switching from one app to the other was four percent. That was on Sense UI. When I used Apex launcher with these background apps running, the battery drain was two and a half percent. Nova launcher was even better, just one and a half percent drain in ten minutes. So my pick of the bunch between Sense UI, Nova, and Apex is Nova launcher. It showed the least battery drain under all conditions. So, now you know how I managed to squeeze fourteen hours plus out of my One X. These are the settings I used: Run Nova launcher. Set screen-timeout to two minutes or less. Set screen brightness on auto. Use a plain black wallpaper. Keep your popular apps in folders, for quick access. Toggle off all network connections, and only enable WiFi when you need it. Turn off auto-sync completely. Turn off notification vibrations. Keep a watch out for rogue apps activating the CPU. You can get battery saver apps that will automate many of these things for you, But you’d have to try them and find one that works best for you. My experience with these has been that they end up making my phone lag, So I prefer to manage my settings manually.