Five settings that increase battery life on Android 4.4 KitKat

Find out which new settings are draining your Nexus 5 or other Android 4.4 phone's battery life.

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With every new operating system comes a fresh set of features that serve up convenience...at the cost of your battery life. In many cases, it's just not worth having your phone die when you need it most.

If you're looking to get more juice out of your phone's battery, or are one of the many people with a Nexus 5 plagued by a possible battery issue, change these settings.

Use the new GPS feature
Many apps -- not just the mapping types -- have recently found a way to incorporate location-tracking into their offerings. From check-ins to finding "nearby" business, these apps eat into your battery life as they work to pinpoint your location.

KitKat attempts to solve this issue with a new Battery Saving GPS mode, which minimizes the number of reference points used to find your location. Because it's still pretty accurate, it's a good default choice.

To enable this mode, head to Settings > Location > Mode, and enable Battery Saving.

Whenever you need super-precise tracking, switch this setting back to High Accuracy. Until then, enjoy the benefits of less strain on your battery.

"Not OK, Google"
On the one hand, be thankful your phone is such a good listener. On the other hand, it's not worth killing your battery life.

Thanks to the new, persistent Hotword detection, you can say "OK, Google" from any home screen (or within Google Now) to prompt Google Search and Voice Actions. That means, however, that your phone is always listening, waiting for you to say those magic words.

To turn that feature off, head to Google Now > Settings > Voice, and disable Hotword Detection.

NFC when you need it
This one's a no-brainer, not new to KitKat, and yet, I often find that people leave NFC enabled -- even if they don't use it.

If you have an NFC-enabled phone (like the Nexus 5), ensure it's on only when you need it. For those who need to keep it enabled, double-check to see that Android Beam is disabled.

To adjust these settings, navigate to Settings > More (under Wireless and Networks) > NFC.

Get out of sync
When add an account to your phone, Google assumes you'd like to sync just about everything. That includes Google Play purchases, Google Keep, and even photos.

That last one is killer: photos. Each time you snap a picture, Google uploads it to your account to back it up. For those who use their phone as their primary camera (that's everyone, right?), this can seriously hurt your battery life.

There are two ways to change this. Head to settings and find your e-mail address under Accounts. Tap the account name again to access sync settings, where you can un-check the items you don't want synced. Included there is that "Google Photos" option.

Alternatively, head to the Gallery app > Settings, and disable Google Photos Sync.

Use the battery tool
If you still can't figure out why your battery is draining, make use of the built in power monitor, which displays the amount of power each active app is using.

To access the battery tool, call up the notification shade, tap the Quick Settings icon, then hit the battery logo. Here, you'll see a complete list of active apps. Take a look around to see if any are consuming an unusually high amount of power. Your phone's display and networking processes (like Wi-Fi) are unavoidable, but you might find that an app you downloaded is a battery hog.

If you identify a battery-sucking app you'd like to shut down, tap it from the list, and hit "force stop."

About the author

Sharon Profis is a CNET How To expert who cooks up DIY projects, in-depth guides, and little-known tricks that help you get the most out of your tech. During her four years at CNET, she's covered social media, funky gadgets, and has shared her tech knowledge on CBS and other news outlets.

 

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