How to Stretch Your Android’s Battery Life When It Is Critically Low

There’s nothing as disheartening as the ‘boop boop’ noise a phone makes when it’s on low battery. At home it’s not a problem but when you’re on the bus to work, college or school, you know that at best you have an hour’s juice left. Soon you’ll be left without a functioning phone. Not the end of the world but definitely an annoyance; particularly when other people depend on you being available.There are numerous things you can do to get the most out of a low battery to ensure your phone will last the entire day. On top of that, there are a few steps you can take to make sure your phone’s battery will last longer in the first place so you don’t find yourself in that situation.

Stretching a low battery

As soon as you battery is at 10%, it’s time to really start conserving power. The most obvious suggestion is to simply power down your phone and turn it on periodically to check for texts, emails and so on. But that’s kindergarten stuff. First thing’s first; kill off everything that’s eating up power. Go “Settings -> About Phone -> Battery Level -> Battery Usage”. Here you’ll see a list of the services that are eating up juice and just how much they’re using. The main offenders are likely to be Wi-Fi, GPRS, 3G and VoIP services such as Skype. Turn off as many as you can.

Control Running Services and Kill Applications

Applications can also be running in the background without you knowing. These can be a huge drain on power normally, but when your battery is running low, killing them off is critical. Go “Settings -> Applications -> Running Services”. Touch all the running applications you don’t need running. Many are auto-update apps such as Facebook, email, Twitter, RSS readers and instant messengers.

Lower Screen Brightness

Large touchscreens also use plenty of power. One way you can reduce this is to dim the brightness. Either use the homescreen widget or go “Settings -> Display -> Brightness”. While the screen may be slightly harder to see, it will give you extra battery time.

If you’re using your Android phone as a WiFi Hotspot, you should know that it eats power like it’s going out of style. If you need to use your phone as a modem, do so by tethering it to your laptop via the USB cable. It still uses a fair share of battery but considerably less than the hotspot. Obviously tethering via USB will charge your phone too so consider this tip as more of a preventative measure rather than a quick fix!

Condition Your Battery for Longer Life

While a dying battery is a bummer, it can actually be a blessing in disguise. Rechargeable batteries can be conditioned to last longer. The best way to do this is to deplete the battery once every month of so. Do this by using the phone heavily. Leave loads of apps running, maybe leave the media player on along with the GPS and 3G. This heavy depletion (much more than your average day’s use) and the subsequent recharge will condition your battery for heavy use. When it doesn’t receive another dose of intensive power drainage, it will last longer. Some people have reported gains of fifty percent!

So there you have it; some great tips and tricks to save battery on your Android device. Do you have any tricks you use to save battery?

Dean Sherwin Dean Sherwin

Dean Sherwin is a freelance technology journalist and blogger. He covers several topics including Android, Windows, cinema and literature. You can follow him on Twitter here!


  1. I did many of the traditional manual battery changing tricks, also purchased a new battery, but at some point I could squeeze no more from the device. What has made a tremendous difference for me is an app called JuiceDefender. I’ve also since rooted my device and am using CyanogenMod 7, along with an alternative kernel (Wildmonks). While for the common user rooting and kernel mods may seem a scary leap, the performance benefits are significant. Since making these changes my device regularly gets 13+ hours with regular use, and in some cases 20+ hours. My goals was to make it through the day without having to recharge (and still use Bluetooth, WiFi, 3G etc.. when I need them.

    1. I agree with you. Rooting is sure a scary stuff, but the performance leap from installing a custom rom is too good to be missed.

      However, for most users who are not willing to go the rooting way, the above advises are the best to maximise the battery life.

      1. JuiceDefender automates this and doesn’t require root… and I’m not shilling for them either:

        1. Thanks. I have tried Juice Defender before and I agree that it is good. Since I switched to MIUI, I have no longer any use for this as MIUI has a good battery management system.

  2. Conditioning these batteries isn’t a solution at all.  It just doesn’t work.  After depletion the batter will ‘report’ % of battery availability more correctly, but Li batteries just don’t have battery memory.

  3. Someone mentioned Juice Defender.  That’s what I use, and it’s amazing (though I sometimes have weirdness with it).

    LI batteries don’t, indeed, have “memory” (like NiCads, for example); and, yes, letting them fully discharge can sort of psedo-calibrate them…

    …but with most phones there’s an easier way.  Since they have no “memory” like a NiCad, there’s really no need to fully discharge them; but there is a need to calibrate them so that the phone can more accurately report their condition.

    On my Samsung Captivate (Galaxy S-class), for example, it’s a sort of convoluted little process, but boy-oh-boy does it ever work!  One first charges it completely while on; and then, when one is told to unplug the charger, one unplugs it, then powers down.  Then, while fully powered down, one plugs-in the charger again, then waits for the little vibration saying that the battery’s fully charged, even though the phone’s off.  Then one unplugs the charger and powers-up the phone, waiting until it’s completely booted-up.  Then one powers down the phone again; and, once powered-down, one plugs-in the charger yet again and charges until one gets the little vibration again, stating that the battery’s fully charged even though the phone’s turned off.  Then one unplugs the charger one last time and powers-up again… this time, leaving it on and using it normally.

    Wacky, eh?  But that’s actually the prescribed method, straight from Samsung.  Go figure.

    Anyway, most other phones have some sort of (probably equally or even MORE convoluted) variant of the above steps.  It’s just a question of figuring out what they are for one’s given phone, and then just doing it.  Didn’t take me long at all, once the phone was fully charged while on.  The little mini charges while off each took only five to 10 minutes, so the longest part of it was fully charging it while on… the very first step.  I’m guessing that most other phones would be similar.

    The results were that the phone much more accurately read the true state of the battery… a particularly important thing if one’s using either Juice Defender or something like it to manage the battery.  Juice Defender Ultimate on my Captivate began doing some SERIOUS good once I recalibrated the battery.

    I’m not sure how often it needs to be recalibrated… I’m guessing a minimum of every couple or three months.  Who knows… maybe it’s okay to do it monthly.  It would certainly be easier to remember if it were done monthly.

    Anyway, I don’t know if that helps anyone, but it is what it is.

    Gregg L. DesElms
    Napa, California USA
    gregg at greggdeselms dot com

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