Google Android G1 Phone: Increased Battery Life

Here are a few unscientific proven steps you can take to maximise your Google Android G1 smart phone battery life. It may well work for other Android mobile/cell phones  but until I upgrade (or get a free one through the post) I won’t know!

Firstly, like many smart phone owners I began by downloading loads of cool Apps and doing lots of unproductive stuff like using 3G to watch funny YouTube videos, connecting via the Wireless card just because I could and checking emails and of course Tweeting from the Android G1. (My previous phone being a Sony Ericsson Cybershot – great for calls and photos).

After completely draining the battery on the first day (initial charge was around 12 hours) I soon realised that this wasn’t too practical; yes I liked the fact that my underground tube journeys or longer train journeys would not be as boring anymore yet I still needed to be able to make calls with it too!

Step 1 – 3G is Wrecking my Mojo

After some research I found that the most battery draining feature was actually the 3G Internet browsing option. Apparantly it requires more power than Bluetooth and the Wireless Network card. It is far more superior in speed to the 2G network but this comes at a price.

Whilst 3G enables faster internet browsing, really, what difference does this make to background applications? If you’re on a data plan then 3G will of course download quicker but it will still download the same amount of information as 2G so unless your network operator is charging by the hour, you won’t gain too much.

Besides, I’m on a UK network on which I pay a small monthly amount for unlimited (loosely speaking) Internet usage via 2G and 3G.

Now what I do is to default my connection to 2G, and switch to 3G only when I really need it (like when using Google Maps or checking in on work emails).

Step 2 – Radio Silence

If you’re not actively using Bluetooth, disable it. Same goes for GPS and the Wireless internet card. I use Bluetooth in my car so its switched on when I enter and switched off when I leave. I use GPS for maps, simple switch on and off. Finally I use the Wireless card at home and I only switch this on when I need it.

Great, already increased battery efficiency by around 40% I reckon! (don’t quote me, I made that up).

Step 3 – Exposing the Undercover Sync

Another battery drain is background sync. What is it? It will sync your email, calender and contacts amongst other things via the internet. Unless you’re constantly updating things and *need* your G1 synchronised (I currently don’t) then switch this to manually update. This includes things like weather Apps, Twitter and partially pointless Apps like moonphase (did I say pointless? I did download it afterall… I mean sometimes useful).

By reducing the number of background sync items  you save your battery life 2-fold; firstly by reducing your internet usage but also in reducing your CPU usage by not having these items burning your CPU whilst on standby.

Step 4 – The Terminator

What a cool intro to step 4. Actually it is nothing more than closing applications that you were running. Since many of the G1 Apps do not have a simple ‘close’ action to close the program down, it will sit as a task on your Android consuming small amounts of memory and CPU (which wastes your battery). By installing a simple app like the fantastic Task Manager App (free trial version, worth paying for) or the freely available, yet basic TasKiller App you can ensure your G1 is running optimially by closing down apps.

Step 5 – Smaller Tweaks

And finally here are a few other things you can do to improve battery life. Again this is based on my experience with the G1 so you may have differing results.

a) Reducing the screen brightness will save battery. I’ve set my back-light to 0% which means I have a slightly dimmed view of my screen but as I’m now used to it, I don’t notice it until the sun is shining on it, when you do need to turn the back-light up (i.e. using Google Maps on the street!).

b) Ensure any Apps you stop using for example when the trial is finished, are not consuming your CPU. I installed a trial of an email client which when expired, still continued to request updates. Delete the App or upgrade it if you use it!

c) Set your screen timeout according to your usage. Mine is set to 30 seconds which is more than enough. If I’m browsing the map for directions I’ll use the handy Toggle Settings desktop widget to quickly set the screen to ‘never timeout’.

d) Ok some sarcastic person would probably write this so here it is; to save maximum battery, don’t use the phone. Heck, turn it off. Not highly practical though hey?

e) Or perhaps buy another phone. My old Nokia lasted 5 days. It made calls. Period. However I don’t want to ‘just’ make calls I want to surf the ‘net, take pictures, write a blog and check twitter updates whilst reading an e-book from my phone.

The Results

There you go. Some if not most of this has probably already been covered off seeing as though the Android G1 is now at least a year old (G2 looks great, though I love the keyboard on the G1). Let me know if any of this works on the G2!

Perhaps they’ve improved battery life on the newer versions of the Android phones but in any case, I’m now getting 3 days usage from my Android G1 which includes perhaps 1 hour talktime a day, 2 hours Web usage and other apps. Not bad me thinks.

Recommended Apps List to Help Save your Battery

  • Task Manager (monitor and close apps)
  • Toggle Settings (quick on/off actions for popular settings)

What are your experiences? Have I missed something off the list? Or perhaps you’re not experiencing the same level of battery karma as me?



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