Android phones are constantly improving and updating, with a new batch of phones and operating system tweaks coming out every few months.

One thing seems to remain constant, however: battery life.

A blazing-fast 4g connection doesn’t do you any good when your smartphone has completely run out of juice. Fortunately, there are a few simple tweaks that can help you stretch your phone’s battery (saving battery) a precious few more hours. Specifically, you can save battery by focusing on screen brightness and eliminating unnecessary Widgets and background processes.

The screen is usually the single largest consumer of power on your phone.  When walking in bright daylight, maximum brightness is usually a necessity. Be sure, however, to turn it back down to a reasonable level once ambient light levels have fallen.  Features such as an automatic backlight can actually be a drain on the battery, as they use power to periodically check for changing light levels.  To save even more battery, go into the Display settings and change the Sample Interval to 5 seconds or more, or just disable the feature altogether and manage it manually.

Widgets are essentially small visual Apps that are constantly running on your desktop. This “constantly running” part is key–anything that is operating at all times also requires power at all times.  Try to limit widget usage to items that are absolutely necessary.  The greatest drain comes from Widgets which need to constantly update information, like Facebook or Twitter.  This continuous exchange of data means that your phone is accessing the internet and working away, even when you’re not actually using it.

Much like Widgets, unnecessary background Apps run down your battery when you’re not even looking.  Unlike, Widgets, however, these apps aren’t even visible from your home screen. Often they’re apps which were opened at some previous point, and never fully closed. Google Maps is a notorious offender–it can run for hours in the background, accessing your GPS and updating geographical data.  Not only is this a massive drain on your battery, it can end up using a fair amount of data.  Apps can be killed manually on Android 2.x by going through Settings –> Applications –> Manage Applications, and on 4.x by hitting the Menu Button while on the home screen and navigating to Manage Applications.


Proceed with caution when killing applications. Unless you specifically recognize something as an App and a non-essential process, do not terminate it.

For the time being, battery drain is simply a feature of smartphone use.  By managing screen brightness and limiting the number of widgets and background applications, you can limit battery usage (Lithium Battery Life).  Indeed, with these simple tricks it should be possible to stretch your phone’s battery through a long day and back to the charging port.