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What's Draining Your Android Battery?

by on April 01, 2016
in Phones and Mobile, Cell Phones, Mobile Apps, Android Apps, Tips & How-Tos, Tech 101 :: 46 comments

low battery

With all that we use our cell phones for – always-on social networking, video and music, voice navigation wherever we go – most need to be recharged nightly. But if you find your Android phone is dying long before your evening nightcap, you may want to take a look at what's draining its battery.

Those lovely high-definition screens on handsets like the Samsung Galaxy S7 or HTC One M9 are a common culprit, while the Android OS's live-updating homescreen widgets can be responsible for more than their fair share of juice. Another common cause of battery drain is badly designed apps, which can hog battery life by constantly syncing and pushing alerts.

The latest version of the Android OS, 6.0 Marshmallow, comes with deep battery optimization features to intelligently manage how apps use battery. Doze, which is active by default, is a mode that kicks in when the screen has been off for 30 minutes while the phone isn't plugged in. It prevents apps from getting online, and from waking the phone, but doesn't affect “high-priority” alerts such as email or chat. Similarly, a feature called App Standby adds a new option in Settings > Battery to “Optimize”; optimized apps are put into standby (no syncing; no alerts) if they haven't pushed alerts, been used or launched for several days. Both features are designed to minimize the impact of inefficiently designed or unused apps – for example, bloatware preinstalled by manufacturers or carriers – so users shouldn't notice them working (though which apps are “optimized” can be manually managed in Settings).

While most Android phones released in the last couple years should receive an update to Marshmallow this year, even if you're using an older version of Android, there's still plenty you can do to increase battery life – without changing how you use your phone (too much).

(Note: This information covers Android 4.1 phones and newer, so names of folders may slightly vary – for example, “Battery” settings may be “Power” settings on some phones.)

Take action

1. Check which apps are draining your battery

In all versions of Android, hit Settings > Device > Battery or Settings > Power > Battery Use to see a list of all apps and how much battery power they're using. If an app you don't use often seems to take up a disproportionate amount of power, consider uninstalling it.

2. Uninstall apps

Delete apps you don't use from a single menu by heading to Settings > Apps > All. Tap on each app and hit Uninstall to remove it as well as any data it has created.

3. Never manually close apps

Despite the popularity of task-killer apps for Android, manually closing running apps doesn't help battery life, a myth recently debunked by both Apple and Google. In fact, closing an app can even very slightly damage battery life according to Android's SVP of Android, Chrome and Chrome OS, if the phone system requires it to run again (or when you open it again).

4. Remove unnecessary widgets from the home screen

Many Android apps, including social networks, weather apps and news apps, come with widgets that sit handily on the home screen for real-time updates. However, widgets are battery drainers due to their constant syncing with the mothership or power-sucking animations. If you don't need a permanent window into Twitter, or regular updates on the weather, remove the superfluous widget by pressing and holding it, then dragging it to the trash can icon.

5. Turn on Airplane Mode in low-signal areas

Smartphones use more power when trying to connect in low-signal areas. If you can't get a signal, turn on Airplane Mode by swiping down and tapping the Settings wheel. If your low-signal area is, say, an office or someone's home, you can turn on Wi-Fi (with Airplane Mode enabled) instead to stay connected. Then restart your cellular connection when you're in an area with better coverage.

On the flip side, disabling Wi-Fi may not always save battery life. Your phone uses less energy to connect to wireless than cellular networks, while Wi-Fi also helps phones determine location – handy for paring back the need for power-hungry GPS.

Doze app6. Download Doze

Though Doze is a default feature on Android Marshmallow, users of Android 4.1 (and newer) phones can download a separate, more powerful app called Doze (free in Google Play), based on Google's version. Once downloaded, the app needs to activated, then it works in the background (without affecting Doze mode, if it's downloaded onto a Marshmallow phone).

Optimize settings

7. Turn off notifications

Getting real-time updates of what's going on in your apps is handy for things like email or social networks, but many apps automatically demand permission to send notifications as well for reasons that are much less useful. Turn off notifications by heading to Settings > Apps, then visiting less necessary apps and unchecking “Show notifications.”

8. Turn off GPS when not in use

GPS is one of the heaviest drains on the battery – as you've probably noticed after using Google Maps to navigate your last road trip. When you're not actively using navigation, swipe down to access Quick Settings, and toggle it off. You'll be prompted to re-enable it when you use Maps.

Alternately, if you're using apps that require your location, you can head to Settings > Location > Mode and select “Battery saving” (where Wi-Fi and mobile networks are used to determine your location) over “High accuracy” (where GPS is also used).

9. Check app location tracking

Some apps track your location and therefore use more battery power than strictly necessary by accessing your GPS. At Settings > Location you can see which apps recently requested your location, as well as how much (low/high) battery it took. For apps that seem to be demanding more than necessary, head into the apps and manually adjust the permissions individually. 

10. Enable Power Saver Mode

For Android 5.0 and newer, this feature helps maximize battery life as well as stretch out those last several minutes. For example, animations are pared back, most background syncing is halted and location services turned off (so no navigation on Google Maps). You enable it manually in Settings > Power, where you can also fine-tune specifics such as whether or not to conserve CPU power, screen brightness or vibration feedback and choose whether or not to turn off data connection when the phone is asleep.

Phones such as the HTC One M8 and Samsung Galaxy S6 (and newer) also have an “extreme power-saving mode” in which data connections turn off when the screen is off, notifications, GPS, Auto Sync and Bluetooth are off, and only essential apps such as text messaging, email and the clock are allowed to run. You can set the battery level for Power Saver Mode to kick in automatically, or enable it manually.

11. Dim the screen – intelligently

If you're using Android 5.0 or newer, head to Settings > Display and enable “automatic brightness”, which allows the phone to adapt the display based on the lighting where you are, ensuring the screen is never brighter than necessary.

But if your battery is in dire straits, manually dimming the screen is a good temporary fix until you can get to a charger. Pull down the notifications menu and drag the brightness slider to the very dimmest display level you're comfortable with.

12. Decrease screen timeout

You can save a little bit of battery power many times over by decreasing the length of time your phone remains idle before its display automatically goes dark. Head to Settings > Display to adjust Screen timeout to, say, 10 seconds rather than an interval like 30 minutes (which you may have chosen if you were doing something like using the phone for a recipe).

13. Stop vibrating

If your phone is ringing, you don't need it to vibrate as well. Head to Settings > Sound and uncheck “Vibrate for calls”. To really get into battery miser mode, turn off haptic feedback, the handy little vibe when you press virtual keys, by going to Settings > Language and keyboard and unchecking “Vibration feedback”.

14. Keep weather updates local

Who doesn't love the weather widget that tells the time and the temperature in one handy, live-updating home screen box? If you've loaded yours up with cities where you've been vacationing, that widget could be contributing to heavy battery drain. Remove superfluous cities from your weather app by heading to Settings.

Basic battery hygiene

15. Keep your phone cool

According to the Battery University blog by Cadex Electronics, phone batteries degrade much faster when they’re hot, whether you're using the phone or it's idle. Avoid leaving your phone on the dashboard of your car on a sunny day.

16. Charge between 40% and 80%

The best way to maintain smartphone batteries is to keep your phone battery more than 40% charged. Constantly allowing the battery to go from completely full to completely empty can damage it and decrease its capacity over time. On the flip side, leaving your phone plugged in when it's completely full can also degrade the battery. Best practice? Keep your battery between 40% and 80% charged.

17. Occasionally let your battery die

Battery University suggests that calibration – fully discharging then recharging your phone's battery – once every three months helps it maintain its charge capacity. 

18. Always download updates

Whether updates are intended for downloaded apps or the Android OS itself, they generally include bug fixes and tweaks that improve performance, including how efficiently battery is used.

Updated on 4/1/2016 with new tips and Android Marshmallow information

[Image credit: Suzanne Kantra/Techlicious, YirgaLab]



Discussion loading

phone idle

From Leo Delgra on March 19, 2014 :: 10:41 pm

Hi. phone idle is the highest in percentage of battery use, but still drains fast. so what with “phone idle” thats draining battery, when supposedly its idle. Is there more idle than idle.

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Will still drain

From Josh Kirschner on March 20, 2014 :: 1:54 am

Even when your phone is “idle”, it is still maintaining a signal with cell towers and syncing data. If you’re in an area with poor coverage, it can make your phone work harder to connect, causing faster battery drain.

A bad or failig battery can also cause the phone to drain faster than it should, even when idle.

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huge problem

From Robert Hendricks on November 03, 2014 :: 12:51 am

My battery has been running out so quickly that after being charged to 100% it only lasts for am hour max and it loses multiple percents a minute! What can I do to fix this????

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You need a new battery

From Josh Kirschner on November 03, 2014 :: 3:45 pm

Your battery is definitely failing and you need to get a new one. There are apps that can run down your battery faster, but not anywhere near that fast unless your battery is already in bad shape/.

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battery drain fast

From felix lalantha fernando on November 01, 2014 :: 12:45 pm

my Samsung galaxy grand 2 battery drain fast     what is the salutation?

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Great Article!

From Lisa on March 25, 2014 :: 12:12 pm

I was looking for a way to turn off my internet connection every time I put my screen to sleep, because I keep forgetting to do it manually! Anyway, this article doesn’t address my issue, but it’s a great refresher for settings you forget about once your initial phone/tablet set up is done, as well as an informative resource for some great advice about some very useful apps! Thanks for the well written, intelligent, easy to follow discourse! Lisa Kelleher

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Thanks!

From Josh Kirschner on March 25, 2014 :: 6:54 pm

Glad you found it helpful!

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black help

From tom waldrip on March 30, 2014 :: 6:55 pm

Use black background on homescreen.

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removed apps app

From Sheila on April 04, 2014 :: 6:44 pm

I have a removed apps app showing in my data usage but when i go to kill it under the manage apps, it doesn’t show up.  This is killing my battery. Any ideas?

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Can you clarify?

From Josh Kirschner on April 04, 2014 :: 7:17 pm

Hi Sheila,

Can you clarify what you’re seeing? If you removed the apps (uninstalled) they won’t appear in your apps list. Are you saying you uninstalled an app but it’s still showing up in the data usage? What’s the name of the app?

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Hey!

From Angie Rose on April 08, 2014 :: 3:35 am

I just want to ask if i can leave my android phone with empty batt for a day or two and if not, please tell me why thanks!

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No worries if your phone

From Suzanne Kantra on April 08, 2014 :: 8:56 am

No worries if your phone is uncharged for a few days. In fact, you can leave your phone uncharged and/or off for months and nothing bad will happen to it. If you leave your phone uncharged/off for weeks or months, though, just make sure you check for app updates. Even if you have apps updating automatically, you’ll need to approve the updates manually if the permissions change.

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Not a good idea to leave battery uncharged

From pellevinken on July 07, 2014 :: 8:39 am

Li-ion batteries should be stored uncharged. They are optimally stored at around 40% charge.

http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/how_to_prolong_lithium_based_batteries

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Not a good idea to leave battery uncharged

From pellevinken on July 07, 2014 :: 8:40 am

EDIT: Li-ion batteries should NOT be stored uncharged. They are optimally stored at around 40% charge. (Accidentally left out a “not”)

http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/how_to_prolong_lithium_based_batteries

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system android

From rndnznzn on April 28, 2014 :: 4:38 am

I have a brand new phone, full HD screen, but still on top of my list with extreme 95% of battery usage sits system android. What on earth can i do? And what is it caused by?

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More info?

From Josh Kirschner on April 28, 2014 :: 9:25 am

Just to be clear, are you seeing “system android” or “android system”? The latter is a core piece of the operating system, the former should not be there.

How often are you using your phone? If your phone is almost always idle, it wouldn’t surprise me that 95% of the battery usage is by the system apps, as opposed to your display or other applications.

And are you having problems with battery life or just questioning why the system is using a relatively high percentage of your battery? How long is your battery lasting, typically? Also, knowing what model phone you have could be helpful.

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Galaxy Centura

From Josh on May 11, 2014 :: 4:04 pm

What does taking the battery out of the phone and waiting 60 seconds and putting it back in do.  I for 3 weeks on my internet Id open up a page on Google Chrome, Opera, or Browser and the loading page bar would barely move and just sit there and never open a page up, or the bar would move half ways sometimes and stop.  It happened on the browsers, but Facebook, and NWS app as well as CBS SPorts app didnt have any problems working.  But seems like ever since did the take the battery out thing my browser and internet is working normally.  Just dont understand what and how that fixed that by taking the battery out 60 seconds and it didnt fix it taking it out 15 seconds like I had tried 5 times probably before.

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Please !!!

From Kirankumar on May 27, 2014 :: 11:27 am

My Dear friend, just wanted to tell you one thing, just stop this Fucking Tips, can’t you see its there all over, if you just type “battery saving” in google, you will about thousands of posts, with the same tips, (turn of this , turn of that, blah blah) again again and again… and still people are repeating. and You should know every one do this (even kids) these settings as soon as they get a phone. So anything apart from these “Turn off” tips, you can say else, please keep quite.

Sorry, this was not intentional, got fed up of saying this again and again, so now where I see similar tips, I scold them.

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You must have a lot of free time on your hands

From Suzanne Kantra on May 27, 2014 :: 11:45 am

Perhaps one of the reasons you’re finding so many articles out there on this topic is many people are struggling with the issue of battery life and are not as familiar with these tips to fix them?

I appreciate that you must have a lot of free time on your hands to search Google and then scold sites when you find more than one article in search results, but I think we will keep writing tip articles that we feel would be helpful for our readers.

Best,
Suzanne

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Nutter

From Dave on July 04, 2014 :: 6:11 am

Yet you still browse the web reading them !

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What is running in Android OS

From Labrat0116 on June 09, 2014 :: 9:27 am

The main battery user on my Android always shows up as Android OS.

My battery drains down (Bigtime! when NOT in use sometimes). I have GPS, Bluetooth Off as well during this downtime.

I use a couple different battery apps, Task Killer and a couple others to view my battery and app usage.

What else is draining the battery in Android OS ?

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Can be hard to diagnose

From Josh Kirschner on June 09, 2014 :: 1:29 pm

Android OS is the description for the main operating system, and it’s not surprising to see it at the top of the list if you’re not using other apps frequently and your display is usually off. However, your battery should not be draining down “bigtime” when not in use unless your battery is old/defective and needs replacing or their is some feature of Android that is running when it should not be.

Since this is a “sometimes” thing, it doesn’t sound like a bad battery. What I would recommend is resetting your phone to factory settings (back up your data first!) and then only loading back in the apps you really want. That may resolve whatever is going whacky.

Also, note that some “battery apps/task killers” can also be battery drainers. I would lean towards avoiding them unless there are specific features you really want.

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battery apps

From Nerd on September 18, 2014 :: 3:46 am

I’ve been experimenting battery consuming apps bundled in every smart phone and those available for download.  Surprisingly, some of those bundled with the phone upon purchase are the culprits! Worst, battery apps and antivirus apps drains 50% of your battery juice.  Not everybody notice this, but I have proven it in several phones I was able to tinker with. My advise is, uninstall the antivirus and battery monitoring apps including those apps you don’t use and see the difference.

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On charging Li-ion batteries

From Nerd on September 18, 2014 :: 3:57 am

Don’t overcharge your battery.  Once the fully charged indicator showed up, unplug the charger.  Don’t believe in the idea that overnight charging packs more power to the battery.  It in fact is reducing life on your battery every time you overcharge it.  Don’t expect new batteries to power your phone as you expect it to be. New battery optimizes full power storing capacity after 4-5 full charging at off mode.

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Android Battery

From Vikas on July 04, 2014 :: 8:22 am

I think that why Google has provided active touch notification in Moto x. It saves lots of battery and best phone for people like me, who use phone maximum time.

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my samsung galaxy grand duo

From geeeee on August 23, 2014 :: 1:58 pm

my samsung galaxy grand duo jelly bean 4.2.2 charge fast (15 mins or 30 mins)and drains the battery fast. I have set the brightness to the lowest,turn off vibration, key sound press, low ringing volume to 1, turn off wi-fi, bluetooth, gps. i was thinking to change my battery to much higher capacity one. is it possible to use different battery type but same manufacturer? or will it damage my phone? thank you in advance

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Sounds like a bad battery

From Josh Kirschner on August 26, 2014 :: 12:19 am

If your battery is charging that quickly, it’s not charging to full capacity. Either your battery is old or defective. You should replace it with a new one from Samsung. The standard 2100mAh battery should give you plenty of power - I would not recommend using a battery not designed for the phone.

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Lastly, root your device to

From Nerd on September 18, 2014 :: 4:06 am

Lastly, root your device to have full control of it. You cannot uninstall bloatwares in your phone if its not rooted.  Follow my advise, as well as those with regard to brightness, wifi, data, gps, synching, 3G signal, bluetooth, vibra, touch sound and network mode.  My point is, use them only when you need them.  Then you can be assured of an average 2-day battery life under normal use

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Data Pack

From Akritri Soni on October 16, 2014 :: 7:26 am

Whenever I’m using my phone over data pack then it consumes more battery, not even last for 5 hours but over Wi-Fi it can make up to a day easily.. Why is it so? This is top most battery drainer for me :(

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I found out the hard way...

From Adam Smith on December 13, 2014 :: 6:01 pm

When both my personal and business phone went from about a 98% charge to 15% charge in 5 hours, to put my phones in Airplane mode when I’m in a place that doesn’t get cell signal for an extended time.  I get no cell signal at all in my new office as it’s lead-lined, with lead core doors, so, of course, I have no signal.  On the plus side, I’m probably in one of the safest parts of the building if a big tornado hits.

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My phone after being charged

From jass on January 24, 2015 :: 10:52 am

My phone after being charged at night I disconnect it from the charger n just leave it there when I wake up the next day it’s at 90% I don’t know why…..any ideas? And also is clean master good for your phone…. I have the note 3 by the way….

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Battery usage missing

From amy on March 29, 2015 :: 6:10 pm

When i look at the battery section of the settings app, and add up all the various amounts of battery my programs are using it doesnt amount to the amount of battery ive lost.
What i mean is- there is about 26% battery loss that is completely unaccounted for (or more depending how low the battery is)
Where is this battery going, is it a fault with the phone?

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Bug?

From Blanco Naranja on June 18, 2015 :: 2:27 pm

I have an extreme battery drain, to the point that many times it goes from random percentages (40-50-60) to shutdown, in 30 seconds once I turn on mobile data. The odd thing is, that when I turn the phone back on, battery level is a little less that before I enabled the data. It’s an old phone though, but I guess it’s a combination of both the age and a probable bug? Whatcha guys think?

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Probably bad battery

From Josh Kirschner on June 18, 2015 :: 2:46 pm

As batteries get older, they lose their ability to hold a charge, so the percentage numbers can be pretty misleading. Though if it turns back on and stays on for a while without mobile data, sounds more like a system bug. You can try doing a factory reset on your phone and see if that fixes things (make sure your data is backed up first). Else, pony up for a new battery.

May just need to bite the bullet and get a new phone, though grin

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Yes, I think Ima roll

From Blanco Naranja on June 20, 2015 :: 1:45 am

Yes, I think Ima roll back to the ROM it originally came with. If that fails, I have an excellent excuse to buy a new one haha. Thanx for the response =)

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Good article

From Hank Manz on July 10, 2015 :: 8:45 am

As has been pointed out, there are many articles about the subject of battery drain, but this one was easy to follow and had some good tips.  I went from battery life of around 12 hours to more than a day.  Usage didn’t change.  Settings did.  Thanks.

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very nice and helpful article...

From katie woolsey on September 16, 2015 :: 7:01 am

very nice and helpful article… i work on many different techniques and software to save mobile battery life…and this content was helpful for me.

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simple i dont get y

From al on September 18, 2015 :: 9:01 am

simple i dont get y plp neeed to run all there ffin programs and not disabeoe evrything but just use the ones that dont dran so much. i disabled all my apps and get day and half!!1 i dont get it. plp neeed to know theses things… effinkit kat update with droid drains the battery much faster then jb but u can mix that by getting dui battery and just going and disabig evrything.. i pretty much have 8 apps running.. out of the fb and other crap.. so go aheand diable that f and anyhing gooel related. otger stuff too and lower that dam brightnes!1 u dont need it… i can go on and on..

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battery drains when off

From Jim D on January 19, 2016 :: 1:22 pm

The battery on my Ellipis 8 tablet goes dead even when the device is turned off.  Wi-fi is off and network connection is also off.  I’d like to know what is using up the battery when nothing is on.

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Probably a battery issue

From Josh Kirschner on January 19, 2016 :: 2:55 pm

You can check under Settings > Battery to see what is using the battery power. However, I suspect this is an issue with a faulty device. The reviews on both Amazon and Verizon for the Ellipse 8 are pretty dismal, with many people describing issues with battery life and charging. You best bet is to take it back to Verizon to see if you can get a replacement. Or, if possible, return the Ellipse 8 and get a different model. Unless you really need the built-in LTE, you would probably be far better off with an Amazon Fire for a little more money.

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Greenify

From Ernesto Colina on April 01, 2016 :: 12:22 pm

Greenify - The best app to hibernate apps and thus save battery :
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.oasisfeng.greenify&hl=en

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battery drainage too much in 3g

From SONA on April 06, 2016 :: 9:21 pm

Is there any solution to increase battery usages in 3g mode i have lollipop operated phone MTK6582

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No, not really

From Josh Kirschner on April 07, 2016 :: 9:49 am

You would want to use Wi-Fi, if possible, instead of 3G. But if you’re in a bad signal area and that’s not an option, there’s not a lot you can do.

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My x touch phone tablet

From Angelica Rosauro on April 07, 2016 :: 12:29 am

My x touch phone tablet is draining so fast even if it still have a battery charge ,ex.it still have a 70%charge. Why is it happening?

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Old battery?

From Josh Kirschner on April 07, 2016 :: 11:07 am

You don’t provide mcuh information about what is happening. BUt from what I can understand in your comment, it sounds like your battery may be getting old and need to be replaced.

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You can try this app

From Rbab Edition on April 11, 2016 :: 9:11 am

In order to understand what was going on my device and why it delays and why the battery drained quickly, I developed my own app that highlights what processes problematic. I can easily stop or disable these programs. The best is to have a ROOTE phone, but it still works without it.
  Those who want to try, it’s free

http://android-minimalist.blogspot.fr/

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