If you have recently purchased a new Android smart phone or even if you have been using one for years, one of your main concerns is probably the battery life. With all of the apps available to download, home screen widgets to give you all the information you need at a glance, and even basic functions of the operating system, it’s easy to lose control of your battery usage. Here are a few tips on how to get it back.
First, know what’s causing the problem. In the “about phone” section of the main settings, there is a battery use utility. It displays items and the percentage of the power it used since it was last unplugged. It does not show use from previous battery use so checking this multiple times will help you catch every battery hog. This should be your guide to what battery issues to address first and which tips you can simply ignore.
The biggest culprit is the display. It may look nice when it’s at its brightest but setting it to the lowest acceptable setting is key. There is an automatic brightness feature in the display settings but it’s best to set it manually, or change it as needed with the power control widget. Also, lowering the screen timeout to 15 or 30 seconds, turns off the display when not being used.
Other core functions should be monitored closely as well. Wifi and Bluetooth will search for wireless networks and devices even when your phone is idle, GPS can be used by idle applications to get your location, and sync may be updating your e-mail and other apps more often than you need. These can all be turned on and off using the power control widget as well.
Many apps require data to be transferred in order to keep you updated while on the go. Facebook and Twitter are the most popular, but these along with most others will come set to update very quickly. Most every app will have an option to change how often it updates, and if it doesn’t have that option it might be best to find a different one that does. If the app also comes paired with a widget, it is wise not to use it if you don’t need to. Widgets are constantly active when the home screen is visible, and sometimes even when its not, draining much more power when doing basic tasks like text messaging or switching between apps.
There are also many apps that run idle in the background while you do other tasks, requiring processing power even when not in use. Installing an app like advanced task cleaner or taskiller will allow you to automatically turn off specific applications running in the background after you stop using them, or when you turn your phone off. If you see many apps running that you don’t even use, uninstalling them (Settings/Application settings/Manage applications) is the best solution.
Ben Harshbarger, of Computer Renaissance in Bradenton, can be reached at (941) 753-8277.