Top tips to help conserve your Android smartphone’s battery life

These days, phones are getting bigger and bigger, with larger pixel-dense screens that sap a lot of power, super-fast quad-core processors, LTE radios, and other gubbins which takes its toll on your battery. True enough, battery tech is ever-improving as well, but everyone could use some tips on extending battery life with their Android handset. There’s no such thing as too much of it…

With that in mind, we’ve produced this article full of tips to help maximise your Android phone’s battery longevity.

See what's sucking the most juice

Navigate to Settings > About Phone > Battery Use to see an organised breakdown of what's consuming your phone's battery. Applications and features will display in a descending list of battery hogs. If you see an application you barely use or a feature you never use, uninstall the app or turn off the feature.

Turn unnecessary hardware features off

It's great that today's phones have LTE, GPS, Wi-Fi, NFC, and Bluetooth, but do you really need all four activated 24 hours per day? Android keeps location-based apps resident in the background, and the constant drain on your battery will become noticeable, fast. Some 4G LTE smartphones let you turn off 4G mode separately, which is a good thing, since LTE consumes extra power but has yet to blanket the country. If your phone has a power control widget, you can use it to quickly turn off GPS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth, and sometimes 4G as well (depending on the phone).

Set display brightness to adjust automatically

Turning down the brightness is obvious – you'll be surprised at how much this one helps alone. But the automatic adjustment facility (under Display Settings) is less well known. Activating it means the OS will automatically dim its display in darker environments, including seemingly well-lit indoor rooms.

Dump unnecessary widgets and live wallpaper

Just because they're sitting on the home screen, seemingly inactive, doesn't mean they're not consuming power. That goes for widgets that poll status updates in the background, as well as ones that just sit there but look pretty and animated – not to mention animated live wallpaper. (But don't dump everything, as part of what makes Android great are the home screen customisations – just remove the ones that you don't use).

Reduce email, Twitter, and Facebook polling

This is a big one. Even handset manufacturers don't necessarily get this, and leave everything enabled by default. Set your various messaging apps to "manual" for the polling or refresh frequency, just as a test, and you'll instantly extend your device's battery life by a significant amount. Once you see what a difference that makes, try re-enabling just the most important ones, and possibly reducing their polling (or "checking," as opposed to push, which happens only when there are new messages) frequency in the process.

Update your apps

Applications often get updated to use less battery power, so you should make sure your apps are up to date. Even if you configured the phone for automatic updates, some apps still require that you manually install updates.

Reduce RSS feed update frequency

Staying current with the news is great, but why update feeds constantly in the background? Plenty of third-party apps set their defaults to check for updates at a set period of time. Others may offer a choice, but give no indication to the user that battery life will suffer as a result.

Keep an eye on signal strength

If you're in an area with low signal strength, the phone will work harder to latch onto a strong-enough cellular signal. This has an adverse effect on battery life. There's not much you can do about this one – though you could turn your phone off for a bit, if you’re travelling, as you pass through a very weak signal area. At any rate, bear in mind that this issue could be the culprit behind a seemingly weak battery.

Check the reviews

We conduct battery life tests of every single phone we review. Unsurprisingly, the results vary widely between handsets, even on the same network. When choosing a phone, make sure that real world talk time is sufficient. You can't go by what the manufacturer says – read our (and other) reviews to gauge what battery longevity will really be like.