How-To: Save Battery Life on Android Phones

In tonight’s Android How-To, I’m going to show you a little bit about how to save some battery life on your amazing Android device. It’s no surprise that Android phones do not have the greatest battery life–the resources that the phones use in their operating system make them very power-hungry devices. And while it may get frustrating at times, there ARE ways to avoid having to carry a charger or second battery everywhere you go. Lets take a look at a few of my favorite battery saving tactics:

1. Turn data services off!
This one is pretty much a given–if you’re not using your data connections, turn them off! Even when your screen is off, Android devices still keep your data connections on, giving them the ability to suck down your battery at a much higher exponential rate than if they were off. Many Android devices come with a set of widgets to turn your data services on and off. You can find them by long-pressing your home screen, adding a widget, and browsing through the “Settings” category. If your phone does not have these pre-installed, you can always download them on the market, free of charge.

This tip also applies to Bluetooth and GPS, too. Bottom line–anything you’re not using should be turned off. Your battery will thank you. Also, if you’re in an area where there is wifi, use that instead of your 3G or 4G data. The speeds are much greater, and wifi requires less power to run than those attennae.

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2. Auto-syncing data hurts your battery…alot!
Whenever you add a new account to your phone (Google, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.), the phone will want to automatically sync that account with it’s respective service, quite frequently. Even when the data connection is off (if you turned it off after following my first bit of advice), the accounts will want to try and sync, causing your battery to take a hit once an hour (or whatever the sync frequency is). In an effort to save battery, you can very easily disable this feature, and only sync data when you want it to sync. To do this, you’ll just go into Settings>Accounts and Sync, and then uncheck the box that says “Auto sync.”. A widget also exists to enable and disable auto sync, which may make it easier for you if you’re planning on constantly using a data connection. To sync your accounts whenever you want to, just go into the application and refresh it.

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3. Adjust your brightness
If you’ve got auto-brightness enabled, the phone will survey your environmental conditions and select the brightness of your screen for you. This, of course, takes quite a bit of battery, as any slight change in lighting will result in your phone working to find the best brightness level for you. By turning this off, you can select your own brightness based on what is comfortable to you, and only you will be able to change it (not your self-aware phone).

To turn off auto-brightness, take a trip into Settings>Display>Brightness, and uncheck the auto-brightness checkbox. You can adjust your brightness settings here, as well, by adjusting the slider, or download a brightness widget (the one I use is featured in the first screenshot above).

4. Download a battery saving application
This one has never really worked for me too well, but in the Android Market, there exists a couple of different battery saving applications. The one everyone loves is called JuiceDefender. A paid, premium version of the app called UltimateJuice will give you more settings to play with. If you are the type that doesn’t want to turn off your data and all of the other stuff listed above, JuiceDefender will do it for you. I personally recommend doing it all manually, but the option definitely is out there.

With JuiceDefender, you can set schedules based on peak times that you would typically use your data and other features of the phone. Of course, because no two days are exactly the same (at least in my life), you may not want to get this involved. But if you have a stable schedule, it may not hurt for you to try it out.

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5. No Live Wallpapers!
Live Wallpapers are nice. But they are CONSTANTLY utilizing battery resources to keep them moving, even if your phone is off. If you aren’t planning on showing your phone off to your friends, it isn’t a bad idea to keep the live wallpaper use to an extreme minimum. There are millions of normal wallpapers out there that will make your phone look good. If you’re showing your new toy off to friends or family, by all means, use it. But get rid of it before your battery decides to hate you.

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By following these steps, you should be able to help your battery’s daily lifespan double. I have never had my Android device go below 40% battery, even on heavy use days (some of my days start at 5am and end as late as 10pm). By carefully analyzing what you’re using and not letting it run when you’re not using it, you should be able to get similar results.

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How-To: Prevent Malware on Android

The Android Market has produced thousands of good quality apps, there’s no denying that. Yet, some applications have slipped through the cracks and provided viruses and theft of data from devices. Google has cracked down on this before, yet for some reason, it continues to happen, and more and more users have their devices severely impacted.

It’s easy to prevent these “bad apps” from making their way onto your device. The first way would be to avoid downloading any application that offers you downloads, like wallpapers and ringtones. Some apps can be trusted (I personally like Zedge’s app for downloading these things). Be cautious of who the developer is for each app that you want to download, and of course, read the user reviews and ratings!! Chances are, if the reviews say it’s malware…it probably is!

On that note, looking at the application name alone should help avoid downloading malware. If you’re looking at an app called “FrEe RiNgToNeS and WaLlPaPeRz!!!11!,” it might be a little bit sketchy. My general rule–if it’s grammatically wrong, it’s probably wrong for your device.

Also use caution when downloading apps from the Internet. The only OFFICIAL hub for apps on Android is the Android Market. It was established to create a safe environment for developers to post their apps, and for users to download them. The Amazon AppStore was also designed with this in mind. Downloading apps from the Internet and pushing them to your device is permitted (except on AT&T), but not generally recommended. Sure, the Android Market has some things that slip through, but it’s generally a lot safer than downloading from a site called “getyoappshere.com.”.

My next bit of advice involves text messaging and email. With texting, make sure not to subscribe to those stupid texting programs, like for daily jokes or horoscopes–you never know when they might send you a link that you don’t want to open! With email, take extra caution not to open attachments that you wouldn’t open on your main computer. Only trust attachments from those you know and trust. Otherwise, don’t open it.

Finally, it never hurts to add a security system to your phone. There is an amazing mobile security program called Lookout Mobile Security, that will help you identify threats and eliminate them before they cause harm to your phone. It’s available for free in the Android Market, so make sure to download it and make sure your system is safe.

By following these steps, you should be able to prevent having your mobile life compromised. Hackers are starting to move away from PC viruses and focus more on mobile viruses, which dramatically increases the chances of getting a mobile virus. Follow my advice, and practice the same safety you would utilize on your PC, and you should be able to avoid ending up having your information compromised.

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