Have you ever found yourself wishing that your Android's battery would last longer? Don't answer that -- I already know.
As a platform, Android keeps getting more efficient and batteries keep getting larger. Still, there never seems to be enough juice.
Now, built-in battery-saving apps like "extreme power mode" in the HTC One M9 and "ultra power saving" in the Samsung Galaxy S6 help extend life, though at the expense of Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and GPS -- so it's inconvenient for relying on every day.
I often spend time exploring battery-saving apps and have become quite fond of a few in particular. Here's a list of five of my favorite apps for prolonging the life of your Android's battery. Note that there are a few common settings that overlap across the apps, but in this piece, I've tried to highlight some of the features that help separate each app from the pack.
Editors' note: This story was originally published April 29, 2013 and updated most recently on September 26, 2015.
Packed with seemingly endless options, Juice Defender is perhaps my favorite app on this list. The free client lets you manage common connections, such as mobile data as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Multiple preset modes, like "aggressive" and "balanced," allow for toggling and scheduling, background synchronization, and choosing which apps can keep your screen on.
Aside from the free app, Juice Defender also comes in Plus ($1.99) and Ultimate ($4.99) versions. Depending on what level of control you are looking for, one might be better suited for your needs. The Plus version, for instance, adds "extreme" and "customized" profiles as well as location-aware Wi-Fi, not to mention scheduling for night hours. The Ultimate app also boasts peak hours and weekend settings, autosync, and deeper GPS controls.
I definitely recommend the free client as a starting point but have no qualms about endorsing the paid apps.
Standout features: Multiple versions to suit needs, user profiles, scheduling, and location-aware features.
Initially created for rooted Android devices, Greenify helps extend battery life by automating the hibernation process, which keeps your apps from launching new background processes and sipping at that precious battery. Note that this is not the same thing as a task killer and the full functionality of apps is still present. In other words, Greenify puts misbehaving and otherwise thirsty apps to sleep without outright disabling or force closing them.
With Greenify, users can handpick which apps aren't always that important and have the phone put them to sleep.
As a word of advice, you won't want to hibernate apps such as alarm clocks or messaging clients if you plan to use them every day, like I do.
While the standard, free version will work fine for most users, there is even more customization and optimization in the donate edition. For a few dollars ($3 USD, £1.94, AU$4.21) you can also auto-hibernate system apps. Doing so requires some advanced understanding of how Android works so proceed with caution.
Standout features: Set-and-forget approach to hibernation, less harmful than outright killing an app.
Designed by the Go Dev Team, this one is as gorgeous as it is flexible. A simple tap of the screen lets you toggle preset modes, making it easy to go from reading and relaxing to online gaming. For those who don't like the standard modes, there are two other slots available for creating custom experiences.
Go Battery Saver & Power Widget keeps an eye on your apps to determine which are eating up battery more than others. By assigning a score to your battery, the app is able to determine which features you can enable or disable to extend its life. Tapping the optimize button, in essence, cleans up unnecessary, resource-sucking processes and tacks on some extra expected life. Doing this alone can provide an extra hour or more.
While the free app is stocked with options and settings, the premium pack brings about another dozen features. Available through in-app purchase for $4.99, this upgraded bundle removes ads and tosses in scheduled settings, more control over Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and CPU, and a third "extreme" mode.
The app provides quick access to a number of settings with two home screen widgets. If you go with the premium option, there are three additional widgets to choose from. A number of skins or themes are available for Go Dev's own widgets, and you can also adjust how items appear in the notification bar.
Standout features: Handy widgets, multiple user modes, very clean interface, a steady stream of development updates.
Designed to work in conjunction with your current smartphone settings, this free app tosses in a few additional options to help eek out extra battery hours. Battery Aid will automatically turn off your phone's Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Data connections when not in use, for a set amount of time. It also lets users toggle the sync setting as well.
The free version of the app provides shortcuts to phone options such as display brightness screen timeout, and car dock settings. Sure, you can find these in your handset's normal places but Battery Saver keeps these sort of like-minded things in one place.
There are a couple of other features which can be unlocked for a couple of dollars, including battery statistics. Moreover, the developers have a Google+ and beta community it uses to test new features, too. If you're the type who likes to get a sneak preview of upcoming options, be sure to sign up.
Standout features: Material Design looks very fresh and fits with Google's app standards, all-in-one place for common device settings.
Of all the apps listed here, Tasker is the one that provides more than just battery extension and task-killing. In fact, I would recommend this one to anyone who wants to help automate the Android experience.
In the area of battery life, I like Tasker; it allows me to set times for sleeping and disabling of connections. While I generally tend to plug my phone in overnight, Tasker has proven handy in cases where I do not. Besides time of day, other triggers include day and location; both are useful for people with set work schedules.
I also appreciate the way Tasker lets me set my phone to handle media, texting, phone calls, and other Android functions. It might take a while to fully grasp the capabilities, but at $2.99, this one is a true set-it-and-forget-it app.
Those of you with a Google Chromecast dongle may enjoy some of the extensions and apps that tie into Tasker. One recently making headlines in the Android space, AutoCast, brings about numerous configurations and settings for Google's HDMI dongle.
Standout features: Automated settings based on time, day, and location; automatic settings for text and calls; clean and clutter-free interface.
Other tips and best practices
Chances are good that you can also extend battery life by adjusting a few settings on your device or by following a couple of steps. Switching to airplane mode or turning off features like Bluetooth, NFC and GPS can eke out a few more minutes of life in a pinch.
Is your phone set to automatically adjust brightness? Are your social media apps constantly pinging for updates? You may surprised at how much control you have over the apps and services on your smartphone.
It's not uncommon for an app developer to introduce a new feature or make an adjustment that impacts the battery. Along those lines, I always recommend updating apps to the latest versions. Sometimes these little bug fixes can pay off in big ways.
Which Android applications do you use to extend the battery life of your Android device -- is it one of the five highlighted here, or do you prefer a different client? I would love to hear your feedback in the comments below.