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How to Maximize Your Android’s Battery Life and Phone Responsiveness

December 29, 2010 2:41 am by

Introduction

I have explored many forum posts and the various attempts that people do to extend the battery life on their Android smart phone.  The battery life is an issue, for most people, their stock smart phone can barely last a day before it is out of juice.  Android is, in my opinion, is superior to iOS but the hardware that is packaged with the Android OS (and maybe a bit of the power management code in Android) is a huge flaw in an otherwise perfect smart phone.  The iPhone’s battery life is better than the typical Android smartphone, and that is something I am here to fix.

When I first got my Droid X, it came with the standard 1300mAh battery and it would usually last only about 6 hours after a full charge.  That is extremely low but that is because I would turn it on and play with it every few minutes since this was a new sexy smart phone.  Under normal circumstances, where an average person would probably be working from 9-5, thus, using the phone only to occasionally check email and calls, my battery life then would be about 8 hours.  That is still really sad because I was accustomed to my dumb phone that can usually last 2 full days without needing another charge.  Looking around the various forums like xda-developers, mydroidworld, and others, battery life is clearly an issue with Android.  I have been using my Droid X for almost half a year now, and I am confident to say that I have gathered the best set of tips that will maximize your battery life and make your phone faster and more smooth.

This is what to do

Step 1: First things first, make sure you set your brightness as low as you can tolerate, I use auto brightness which works for me.  The display uses up the most battery life so lowering brightness as much as you can will play a significant role in increasing your battery life.  Set your screen timeout to as low as possible as well.  Keep in mind to turn off wifi and bluetooth when you can.  Those radios use a good amount of energy.  GPS you can leave enabled because unless an app is using the GPS radio, it will otherwise be off.  However, do keep in mind that the fastest way to drain your battery is probably by using the GPS.  You can configure all these in Menu > Settings > {Display | Wireless & networks}.  When you want to close an app, keep pressing “back” to fully exit an app – pressing “home” generally will save the state of the app in memory so you can go back to the way it was later.

Step 2: Root your phone.  Technically, it breaks your warranty but it has been known that nobody really checks nor cares if you send it back in for repair.  Plus, rooting your phone gives you admin privileges – which allows you to do a lot more with your phone (wireless tethering, skinning/theming, use root-required apps).  z4root supports many phones and roots the phone for you, it’s so simple anybody can do it.  Check to see if your phone is supported, otherwise, use Google to search how to root your phone.

Step 3: Now that you have root, it always helps to remove bloatware that the carriers have put on the phone.  For the Droid X, there is a list of apps that people have confirmed is safe to remove from your handset.  However, when there is a software update, it will most likely check to see if all the apps are installed, so usually you want to just rename the *.apk file to *.bak, such that it will remove the app, but later you can easily change all the *.bak back to *.apk when update time is due.  I don’t recommend doing this because I did this prior to an update, but I was not smart and actually deleted the apks off my phone, so I had to figure out which apps I didn’t have and reinstall them on my phone before updating.  I do not recommend this step, although some people might want to.

Step 4: Do you ever feel like the default home launcher (main screen on your phone) is slow and sluggish?  Install LauncherPro, it is the best home launcher out there.  It has so many customizable tweaks and is extremeley smooth and fast.  Make sure to: enable the setting that keeps LauncherPro in memory, minimize the amount of screens and widgets, use homescreen caches, prevent force-close, and twiddle with the memory usage presets.

Step 5: Autokiller is a free app that allows you to tweak the memory settings on your phone.  In a nutshell, this app basically allows you to control how much memory can be used up before it starts freeing memory from apps.  Remember that memory unused is memory of no use, so freeing too much memory is not necessarily a good thing.  Android is designed to gobble memory because it allows apps to boot up faster and be more responsive.  However, sometimes having too many apps open and residing in memory slows the phone a bit.  With Autokiller, press Menu > Presets and choose one.  I use aggressive and it seems to work for me, those numbers mean the amount of memory each app category can use up before it starts killing apps.  Play around and choose one that fits you best.  It has been said 60MB remaining is when the phone begins to slow down.

Step 6: One of the benefits of rooting your phone is having the ability to run apps that require root privileges.  Autostarts is a 0.99$ app that allows you to see “what apps run on phone startup, and what other events trigger in the background. Root users can disable unwanted autostarts and speed up their phone boot”.  Download this app, and give it a few seconds to populate the fields.  Think of msconfig and how you used it to disable crapware that forced itself to startup on boot.  Once it is done loading, you will want to go through the list and disable any unwanted apps, check out especially in the “After Startup” section.  Use common sense and go through the list disabling apps such as CityID, Blockbuster, and that Nascar game.  Please make sure not to disable a crucial system process.

Task Killers

There has been endless debates about whether to use a Task Killer to kill tasks.  From what I get, before Android 2.2 – using a Task Killer to occasionally kill apps that weren’t in use was somewhat beneficial and good.  However, with the 2.2 update there is no longer a need for that.  This article provides a very deep technical insight as to why you should not use Task Killers anymore.  I use Android System Info to monitor and sometime kill a rogue task that is slowing down the phone.

Conclusion

I hope those tips help increase your battery life.  With my 1840mAh extended battery and those tips, my phone can last 2 days easily if I rarely use it (only for calls and checking email).  Otherwise, during a normal school day I would be using the phone on the bus to school, and browsing the web during class (oops), while eating, and time in between classes – quite a heavy user here.  I would take my phone off the charger at around 10am, and after school and work, my battery life would be about 60% around 7pm.  It has improved significantly and even though I have 141 apps installed on my phone, it is still as fast and smooth as the way it was when I first got the phone.

Filed under: Android,How to — Tags: , , , , , , — Jesse Chen @ 2:41 AM

About

Jesse is a software engineer at Facebook, who just graduated from UC Berkeley. Passionate about mobile technology and entrepreneurship, he started his own blog as a home for his tutorials, projects, and random thoughts. Follow him on Facebook to stay updated on his latest tutorials and projects.


Getting Rich on Youtube

September 22, 2010 10:26 am by

After posting a handful of videos on Youtube to supplement my Droid X review, it has gotten to be quite an interesting activity to track.  All these videos were kind of just made during my spare time, just for fun – but it seems like they were [at least] somewhat helpful to others.  At this point, the total views on all my videos is ~32k, and I got a nice little surprise when I checked my email one day and got an invite to submit one of my videos for revenue sharing on Youtube.

For those that don’t know, the revenue sharing program is when Google somehow determines [aka magic] that your video is becoming increasingly popular/viral, and would like to put ads on top of your video.  As a result, you share the revenue that Google earns from viewers looking at your ad, and when they actually click on the ad.  I have two of my videos up for revenue sharing, which is rather surprising because of the minimal effort I have put in to those videos I have been uploading.

I think this is a really cool program for Youtube to do, which hopefully assists them in becoming profitable one day.  It creates an incentive for anybody in the world to create genuine and legit videos of their own, and as a result, drive more traffic and revenue for Youtube.  A beautiful positive cycle.  I have read articles of the richest Youtubers out there, people such as nigahiga, who can earn six figures solely from making Youtube videos!  Sounds like the good life, although I do have to question how long these “celebrity figures” on Youtube can stay relevant with the Internet’s shifting, diverting, 15-seconds-of-fame culture.

I am happy to announce that I am on the path of reaching six figures as well from making my brilliant Youtube videos.  If you extrapolate the rate of earnings that I am getting from my videos, it will only be about 1000 years until I hit 100,000$ from my videos. 😛 Never mind, guess it won’t be happening.

16$ in the first two months!  Not too shabby, it can buy me..something.

Filed under: Android,General — Tags: , — Jesse Chen @ 10:26 AM

About

Jesse is a software engineer at Facebook, who just graduated from UC Berkeley. Passionate about mobile technology and entrepreneurship, he started his own blog as a home for his tutorials, projects, and random thoughts. Follow him on Facebook to stay updated on his latest tutorials and projects.


Motorola Droid vs. Droid X Benchmark Tests

July 25, 2010 11:22 am by

Quadrant Standard Benchmark

In this video, I ran the Quadrant Benchmark test on both the Motorola Droid and the Droid X at the same time.  The Quadrant Standard benchmark tests the CPU/GPU by conducting a variety of arithmetic that stress the CPU, memory throughput tests, I/O database read/writes, and running short graphic animations to see how many FPS the device can handle.  In the end, the data is sent to their servers and a score is calculated based off all those tests.  They show your device’s score compared to other devices in a bar graph to see how your device pits against others.  In my tests, the Motorola Droid that is running at the standard 600MHz, android 2.2 froyo scored 874, which is just above the average score for a Samsung Galaxy S running 2.1 eclair.  The average score for a Droid running 2.1 is really low in the charts, scoring 2nd to the bottom so one can see the drastic boost in speed that an android device gets when it updates from 2.1 to 2.2, because of the JIT compiler that is introduced in 2.2.

The Droid X, however, scored a whopping 1263 in this video, and that is just shy of a Nexus One running 2.2.  So, although the Droid X is running 2.1 eclair, the 1GHz OMAP 3630 processor is super fast.  One can only imagine how well the Droid X will score when it is updated to 2.2.  It will be off the charts, literally.

Linpack for Android

Linpack for Android benchmarks your smartphone by calculating how many megaflops it can calculate in a given amount of time.  I ran a series of 5 tests to get a better understanding on how each device stands compared to each other.

Droid: 9.129 | Droid X: 8.328

Droid: 9.632 | Droid X: 8.328

Droid: 9.598 | Droid X: 8.315

Droid: 9.615 | Droid X: 7.834

Droid: 9.598 | Droid X: 8.328

As you can see, the Droid consistently calculated more megaflops than the Droid X.  So surprisingly, in this benchmark, the Droid takes the cake and goes home with the money.  I can guess that this is a test purely stressing the CPU, which makes it more even for the Droid.  However, if it was that simple, the Droid X should have easily won because it’s processor is 1.6x faster than the Droid.  Do keep in mind, though, that the Droid has a JIT compiler, which somehow plays into this benchmark, making it compute megaflops faster 😛  I wish I can explain the details in whole, but unfortunately, I don’t really know much more than that.

I will update with another video when the Droid X gets 2.2 froyo, and then we’ll see how it pits against the Motorola Droid.

Filed under: Android,Reviews — Tags: , , , — Jesse Chen @ 11:22 AM

About

Jesse is a software engineer at Facebook, who just graduated from UC Berkeley. Passionate about mobile technology and entrepreneurship, he started his own blog as a home for his tutorials, projects, and random thoughts. Follow him on Facebook to stay updated on his latest tutorials and projects.