Best apps for analyzing and improving battery life on your Android device
Battery life is one of those features that just hasn’t kept up with rest of the hardware on our Android devices. Our phones have extremely detailed picture quality, they’re nearing video game console levels of graphical fidelity, and they keep up with all kinds of health information and statistics about us, but getting one to last an entire day away from the wall charger is a tricky endeavor. Many manufacturers include their own power saving modes, and Google has recently added its own spin on power saving into Android with Lollipop, but there are a handful of extra steps and apps you can use to squeeze a little more life out of your device.
We’ve already covered a few of these apps, but things have changed drastically over the past few years. So this guide will let you know how some of those apps have improved and we will also let you know some new things you can do to extend the battery life of your phone.
DU Battery Saver is a powerful tool with a weird name, but it can tackle just about all of your battery analyzing needs on its own. The app claims to be able to squeeze about 50% extra life out of your battery, and although that’s a claim that it’ll only be able to live up to under absolutely perfect circumstances, it can still help just about any user get some extra time out of their device.
The premise for Battery Saver is pretty simple. It keeps an eye on your phone’s battery and charge, gives you estimates on how long your current charge will last and how long it’ll take to finish up charging, and gives you shortcuts to keep your apps and performance in check so you don’t have anything wildly draining your battery in the background. It can run a quick “optimization” that checks what’s currently chewing up the most battery life on your device, which includes power hungry apps and different radios on your device. It will then give you the option to close them out or turn them off. Some of the app scanning can be hit or miss and reminiscent of the old Android 2.0 task manager days, but being able to see a discernible difference in battery life measured in minutes by turning off your Bluetooth is very useful.
The app also features some different profiles for different situations to maximize your battery, including an extreme mode, a general mode, and a sleep mode. The extreme mode shuts off your mobile data and other radios but still allows you to receive calls and texts, which should theoretically give you the best battery life. The general mode keeps most things on but shuts off WiFi when it’s not being used, and the sleep mode turns off unnecessary data and usage but keeps your alerts and alarms on. You can also create your own modes, and with an in-app purchase, you can set the app to automatically change modes depending on different circumstances.
DU Battery Saver also touches on an issue that most apps ignore, and that’s healthy charging habits. Lithium ion batteries are pretty resilient, but they can go bad and can hold a drastically smaller charge over time. The smart charging here uses a fast charge for the first 80% of the battery, then a slower charge for the remaining 20%. At this point, trickle charging kicks on, which, theoretically, keeps everything flowing inside your battery to make up for the constant discharging. The app recommends doing this healthy charge at least once a month, and it actually includes a calendar to track when you’ve done it. While this very specific charging may not get an extra six hours of your battery, it will keep your battery healthier for a longer period of time so you won’t need to replace it after a year or two. Definitely a useful trick for someone that wants to squeeze every bit of performance out of their device.
The app has a few more little bells and whistles, including an app monitor that closely resembles what you see in Android’s system settings and some unlockable extras. Some of the unlockable features are pretty useless, like automatically closing apps when you turn your screen off, but other things like the smart battery mode changing might be worth the small investment.
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Battery Guru is still a regularly updated on the Play Store, and it’s extremely useful for anyone with a Snapdragon processor. Despite what may happen in 2015, right now there are tons and tons of devices running some kind of Snapdragon chip that can benefit from this app.
Battery Guru starts up and runs in the background for a few days monitoring your typical usage, including when you’re sleeping and not using the device, when you connect to specific WiFi networks, and checks up on how often certain apps are eating into your battery. Once it’s collected enough information, the app kicks on and runs in the background, adjusting apps and settings as needed based on intelligent algorithms. At night, for example, it’ll stop your apps from refreshing and keep some of your radios off, since you’re asleep and not using them.
During the day, this can also be useful when it learns what networks you typically connect to. The app will turn the WiFi radio off when you don’t need it, then click it back on when you do. The longer you use it, the more it learns and the better it can perform. Fortunately, it also shows how much battery it’s saving by being installed on your phone, so you can decide if it’s worth keeping or not.
Battery Guru does some of the same things that DU Battery Saver does, but it goes for a more hands-off, intelligent approach to improving your battery life. It lacks tons of extra features outside of managing some radios and controlling how often your background apps can refresh, but if you’re looking for something that doesn’t involve constant monitoring on your part, it’s a slightly better option. Plus, it’s completely free, and Qualcomm regularly keeps it updated for their newer chips and devices.
Greenify is an extremely useful tool that brings some nifty features to both rooted and unrooted features. The app was originally designed just for rooted devices, but has recently been updated to work with unrooted phones, so you’ll be able to take advantage of most of the core features without tinkering with your device too much. If you do happen to have a rooted phone, though, you can do a few extra things that other users won’t have access to.
Greenify works by looking at which apps are running in the background and putting them into “hibernation,” which effectively stops them from running in the background at all. This actually force stops the app, but this means it won’t turn back on unless you specifically open the app again. This is a much more sophisticated approach towards killing background apps, since it actually puts them in a sleep mode where they won’t wake back up as soon as they’re closed. By avoiding that cat and mouse game that task killers play, you’ll actually notice a significant performance and battery increase if you have some apps that just refuse to play nicely.
Of course, the drawback here is that a hibernating app is almost completely shut down in the background. If you hibernate an instant messaging app, for instance, you’re not going to get notified of new text messages. You wouldn’t want to apply that to something like an alarm clock or an app that you need push notifications for, but if you’re trying to stop a game or something similar from constantly turning on in the background, this approach works very well.
If you have a rooted phone, you’ll get access to a few other useful tricks, like automated hibernation and some Xposed modules that allow sleeping apps to still send you certain notifications. Regardless of your phone state, Greenify is a free way to extend your battery when dealing with resource-hungry apps.
CCleaner is a program developed by Piriform and is extremely popular on the PC. The Android app isn’t necessarily designed to improve battery life, but instead to improve performance across the board and clean up clutter on your device. While it won’t do anything for managing your WiFi and Bluetooth radios or telling you what app is eating the most battery, it will help to trim up the fat from your apps and quickly uninstall apps in bulk, which will indirectly improve the performance and battery life of your phone.
The Android version of CCleaner does many things that the PC version does, including clearing the cache from your apps without having to go in and do everything individually, as well as sweeping out your download folders, browser history, old call logs and text messages. Not only will that give you some extra space on your device, but with your apps running and performing better, they should be draining less battery as well. If there are multiple apps that you need to quickly remove from your device, CCleaner can handle that in a few taps, too. It’s a much faster process than wading around in Android’s system settings to remove everything.
The best part of CCleaner is how automated everything is. You can keep all of your clutter cleared away in just a few clicks, and you can quickly view your battery level, RAM usage, and a few other system metrics right from within the app. It’s very lightweight and doesn’t consume much power to work, so running a scan and cleaning once a week should help to improve performance and battery life on your device.
Wakelock Detector was mentioned in our last guide, and although it has lost some functionality thanks to changes in Android, it can still be a very useful tool for pinpointing exactly what’s causing battery drain on your device. Prior to Android 4.1, the app could check what apps were keeping your device awake, which causes potentially massive battery drains. After Android 4.1, apps could no longer access that information without a workaround or root access. If you have root access or are comfortable using ADB and developer settings with your device, however, it can still be a powerful tool.
Assuming you’ve gotten the app set up and working properly, Wakelock Detector will track and show you which apps are keeping your device awake since your last boot, plus provide detailed info about each wakelock, like how often and how long the app is doing it, and when it’s happening. The app can’t do anything on its own with that information, but it gives you a starting point to hunt down where your battery drain is. It also shows technical details about apps, like their current state, CPU usage, and the total time they’ve spent awake on the device.
If you’re willing to get your hands dirty to maximize your Android performance, Wakelock Detector is free with a premium version available. There is a link for instructions to get your unrooted device compatible with the app on their Play Store link, so if you need this tool, grab the app below to get started.
These are a few of the many apps on the Play Store that track and help your battery life. Depending on your device set up, these apps are the most likely to help extend your battery life for a few hours, which might be just what you need until you can find the next wall charger. Did I miss one of your favorites? Let me know in the comments.
Come comment on this article: Best apps for analyzing and improving battery life on your Android device