Android phone battery-saving tips

You'll quickly realise that your powerful new Android smart phone has a shorter lifespan than a mayfly. Here's how to prolong the battery.

Upgrading to an Android smart phone from a bog-standard mobile feels like a massive step into the future. At least, that is, until you notice the battery running flat after a couple of hours.

Even after the initial urge to play with the phone's bells and whistles has worn off, you'll be lucky to get much more than 24 hours out of it. For many, needing to recharge every night is a huge disappointment.

With a big screen and fast processor draining power, a smart phone's battery does have its work cut out. That's no reason to settle for a phone that won't last the day. We've put together 10 Android battery-saving tips to help you get the most from every charge. Hit play on the video above or read on for all the details.

Our screenshots were taken on a Samsung Galaxy S running Android 2.3, but all these tips are relevant to any Android phone.

Android battery-saving tips - where the power's going

1. Find out where the power's going

The first step in prolonging your battery life is to find out which apps and components are using the power.

Press the Menu key, tap Settings, scroll to the bottom of the Settings menu and tap About Phone. Tap Battery Use in this menu to see what's eating the charge.

The chart at the top shows how long the phone's been off the charger and plots the rate of power drain over time. Tap any item in this menu for details and, if available, suggestions on how to cut its power use.

Android battery-saving tips - screen timeout

2. Use the screen wisely

For almost all users, the display is the biggest single drain on the battery. From the Settings menu tap Display to see the options. Tap Screen Timeout and set a short timeout to ensure that the screen goes dark when you aren't actively using the phone.

The Display menu has two options for controlling brightness; tap Brightness to select a constant screen brightness or to enable automatic adjustment to suit the ambient light. Tick 'Power saving mode' to have the brightness also vary to suit the image on the screen. You can improve things further by tapping the power button whenever you're finished with the phone, which instantly turns off the screen.

Android battery-saving tips - toggle

3. Turn off what you're not using

Radio interfaces help to make smart phones truly smart but they also suck up the battery's power. Drag the Notification bar down from the top of the screen to quickly toggle Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS.

Leave Bluetooth and Wi-Fi off unless you're actively using them.

GPS can often stay off too, but try to turn it on a few minutes before you'll actually need it -- on many phones this speeds up getting an initial position, meaning less time spent faffing with the screen and burning even more battery power.

Android battery-saving tips - Running apps

4. Running apps drain the battery

It's easy to use the Home button to get from an app back to the Home screen, but doing so leaves the app running in the background. That may be what you want, but if not, the app will be sipping needlessly away at the battery. Quit apps properly by pressing Back until you return to the Home screen.

If you've quit all applications but something still seems to be draining the battery, enter the Settings menu, choose Applications and tap Manage Applications. Tap Running to list all the running apps and services -- tap an item for the option to stop it. Restart the phone to close all manually-started apps in one go.

Android battery-saving tips - Watch out for widgets

5. Watch out for widgets

Widgets can be useful, but many -- such as news tickers or weather forecasters -- need processing time and data downloads to stay updated.

Resist the urge to festoon your home screens with widgets -- create application shortcuts instead and only run them when you need them.

While we're on the subject, Android's live wallpapers might look cool, but they're a constant drain on resources. If power's an issue, swap them for a decent gallery picture.

Android battery-saving tips - email frequency

6. Email can wait

If something's urgent, people normally call, so it's safe to save power by checking for email less often.

Start Android's Email app and tap an account, then press the Menu key, tap More and choose Account settings. Tap Email Check Frequency and choose Every Hour, then repeat for any other mail accounts.

You can do the same in many social media applications, such as TweetDeck.

Android battery-saving tips - Stair Dismount

7. Go easy on video and games

Android phones make great radios, music or movie players, but video playback is one of the biggest possible drains on a phone's battery.

It might sound obvious, but don't get carried away with iPlayer on the morning commute if you need your phone to last until you get home again.

The same goes for Angry Birds, Stair Dismount or any other game -- levelling up can leave you powerless.

Android battery-saving tips - Juicedefender

8. Try a third-party power app

The Android system does many things to manage power use but there are third-party apps that do more. JuiceDefender is one of the best examples -- there's a free version in Android Market.

JuiceDefender works automatically to keep power use down and you can tailor the settings to be more aggressive if needed.

The Plus and Ultimate versions add more features, but check first that the free version works on your phone.

Android battery-saving tips - warning

9. In an emergency

With 15 per cent charge remaining, Android's low battery warning pops up and it's time for drastic action. Immediately head for the notifications bar and turn off as many options as possible.

With that done, hold in the power button and turn off Data network mode. Now exit all non-essential apps, return to the Home screen and turn the screen off.

From this point onwards, it's best to treat your smart phone as just a phone. Leave it alone unless there's a call or text to answer and you'll save enough power for when you really need it.

Android battery-saving tips - tether

10. Never pass up the opportunity to charge

You never know when you might need a three-hour phone call or a gaming marathon, so it pays to top up your battery when you can. Invest in a USB adaptor for the car and buy a Micro-B USB cable that you can use to grab a top-up from any spare USB port. Obviously, perhaps, charging is quicker with the phone off.

If using your handset as a modem, tether it with USB rather than creating a wireless access point so you can charge at the same time. If your laptop supports it, configure its USB ports to provide power even when it's switched off so you can boost your phone.

Finally, if even all of these tips can't get your phone through the day, buy a second battery as a failsafe.

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