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What's Draining Your Android Battery?

by on July 24, 2019
in Phones and Mobile, Cell Phones, Mobile Apps, Android Apps, Tips & How-Tos, Tech 101 :: 173 comments

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If you find your Android battery is regularly emptied before you manage to Uber that evening ride home, don’t fret – it’s possible you can squeeze more life out of it by optimizing some phone settings. While some battery drain may be due to badly designed or adware-ridden apps that are constantly calling home, everyday phone activities are often the culprits – apps that frequently get online for updates, apps waking the phone screen, the high-definition phone screen itself which takes a lot of power to light up those pretty pixels…

Why batteries drain

“Batteries only have a certain lifespan, measured in charge cycles. This means they can be fully charged and discharged only so many times. “Once a phone battery’s charge cycles are spent, metrics such as talk time begin to degrade and the user begins to notice their phone isn’t lasting as long as it used to,” says Josh Galindo (Director of Training at uBreakiFix).

(This means that if you’re thinking of buying a refurbished phone, you should check with the seller that the battery was replaced, says Galindo. Otherwise, you may find its lifespan start to degrade more quickly than expected because it’s spent a certain number of charge cycles already.)

Another issue is that while other phone hardware such as screens and motherboards have developed quickly to be better and more powerful, battery technology has not seen a similar advancement, so even brand-new phones with larger charge capacities may not last any longer than their predecessors. “For people to see a significant improvement in the life of their smartphones, we’ll likely need to have a major breakthrough in what type of battery technology is in use,” says Galindo.

And, while we always recommend downloading software updates, older phones that have been upgraded to the very latest OS version may also experience battery drain as a result. “In theory, this shouldn’t occur, but often it does because the software is supporting newer functions that the hardware might not have been specifically designed for,” Galindo says. “At some point, software always outpaces the device itself and very often adds additional strain.”

Happily, newer iterations of the Android OS have introduced battery saver features that economize how various apps use up juice and should help you eke a little more use of your phone for now.

What’s new for Android batteries  

The latest version, Android Q introduces Dark Theme. This is a system-wide dark mode that helps save battery life. This is especially helpful for phones that use OLED displays, like the Samsung Galaxy S10 and the LG G8, since black pixels are essentially pixels that have been turned off.

Android 9 Pie has an Adaptive Battery mode that learns your daily routine so that only apps that your regularly use will run in the background. And Background Restrictions in Android Pie let you limit access to apps' ability to run when you're not using them. There's also a new auto brightness mode that detects ambient light and adjusts your display accordingly. 

Android 8.1 Oreo, introduced automatic ‘wise limits’ that curtail how much background apps get to use battery power for processes, as well as prevent non-essential apps from requesting your location (GPS being one of the biggest battery drains, as anyone who has ever used their phone for navigation will be familiar with). There’s also a beefed-up settings menu that newly shows how much battery apps used up versus how much they’re in use, and how long your screen (that battery hog) has been on, as well as the approximate time left based on current usage.

Almost a third of Android users are using Android 8 Oreo, about 20% use Android 7 Nougat, about 17% use Android 6 Marshmallow, and 15% are using Android 5 Lollipop. Android Q is still in beta and due to roll out starting in the fall. While most Android phones released in the last couple years should receive an update to Q in the coming months, if you're one of the many on 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).   

How to improve your Android phone battery life

(Note: This information covers Android 5 phones and newer, so names of folders may slightly vary – for example, “Battery” settings may be “Power” settings on some phones.)

1. Check which apps are draining your battery

In most 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. (In Android 9, it’s Settings > Battery > More > Battery Usage.) If an app you don't use often seems to take up a disproportionate amount of power, consider uninstalling it.

In Android 9, you can see how power-hungry apps as using battery by tapping it. For some apps, you'll be able to turn on "Background restriction." For all apps, keep "Battery optimization" on.

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.

Or, buy premium version of your favorite apps. Apps with ads can eat up extra battery thanks to running ads (or if their ads are badly designed thereby hogging the juice), so if you find a favorite is using a lot of power, going for its premium ad-free version could help.   

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.

6. Go Airplane Mode at bedtime

If you’re caught charger-less overnight, killing all connectivity – Bluetooth, cellular, Wi-Fi, GPS - will help your battery last till morning. Plus, it helps avoid that insomnia-causing blue light

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.”

Android 7.0 makes it very easy to fine-tune further: Head to Settings > Device > Notifications to manually adjust notification levels for each app – you can choose to never show notifications or its battery-friendly compromise: show silently without waking the screen, vibrating, or pinging.  

On Android 8, there are even more granular options. Head to Settings > Apps & Notifications, then click on particular apps. You’ll be able to control what type of events the apps can send push notifications for (for example, on WhatsApp, the failure of a message to send), as well as how they can send these alerts (silently, vibrating, or with sound).

8. Don’t let apps wake your screen

On the other hand, if notifications are necessary, prevent apps from waking the screen when they do send them through. Head to Settings > Display and select to turn off Ambient Display (which means no app notifications will cause the screen to wake). In Android 8 and higher, you can choose to leave Ambient Display ‘on’ but toggle off the sub-permission for notifications to wake the screen, so that you can still double-tap the screen or lift the phone to check for alerts.

9. 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 (Settings > Security & Location > Location > and select “Battery saving” (where Wi-Fi and mobile networks are used to determine your location) over “High accuracy” (where GPS is also used).

10. 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.  In theory, Android 8 and higher should be paring back how much these apps are using the phone’s location services – but for apps that seem to be demanding more than necessary, head into the apps and manually adjust the permissions individually. 

11. Enable Battery 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.

On Android 7 and higher, you can additionally set Battery Saver Mode to kick in automatically at 5% or 15% battery left. Starting with Android 

Some phones, such as Samsung Galaxy phones, 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. 

12. Dim the screen – intelligently

If you're using Android 5.0 or newer, head to Settings > Display and enable “automatic brightness” (or “adaptive brightness” in Android 7 and higher), 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.

13. Turn on Dark mode

Some Android apps have a dark mode, where the screen uses a black background instead of light colored one. Using the dark mode can help save battery life, especially for for phones that use OLED displays, like the Samsung Galaxy S10 and the LG G8, since black pixels are essentially pixels that have been turned off. 

The latest version, Android Q introduces Dark Theme. This is a system-wide dark mode that helps save battery life.

14. Tone down those live wallpapers

You can kit out your home screen and lock screen with some nifty animated wallpapers that change in ombre or style as the day wears on – but this doesn’t come for free. Save on battery by heading to Settings > Display > Wallpaper to select a static counterpart instead.

15. 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).

16. 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, also uncheck "Touch vibration" (find this on some phones by going to Settings > Language and keyboard and unchecking “Vibration feedback”).

17. 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.

18. Keep your phone cool

Like Goldilocks’ pilfered porridge, phone batteries should be neither too hot nor too cold. An ideal temperature range for smartphone batteries is around 68°F to 86°F. If a phone is customarily left in temperatures outside this range, especially on the hotter side, it can eventually damage the battery, notes Galindo. 

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.

19. 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.

20. Get a certified or original charger – especially for fast-charging

Newer Android phones can take advantage of ‘fast charging’ tech which tops up batteries at around twice the speed – but if you’re not using a cable and charge head from the original manufacturer or a certified third-party, it could be contributing to battery drain, and in some cases, degrading the function of your phone.

“One thing that’s often overlooked is the use of low-quality chargers from third-party manufacturers,” says Galindo. “Especially with wireless and fast charging technology, it’s more complicated to ensure that cables work with batteries as they were designed.”

We like the Anker Powerline+ ($11.99, check price on Amazon) and the AmazonBasics USB 3.0 cable ($5.80, check price on Amazon)

21. Let your phone battery die once a month

If you never let your phone go to zero, fret not – it’s not doing your phone any harm. Previous warnings about the need to fully discharge batteries are more relevant to older types of batteries, not the lithium-ion batteries used by smartphones. However, allowing the phone to discharge fully to zero, then allowing it a full, uninterrupted charge may help with the calibration of the OS with the battery itself.

“The recommendation is once a month, as this can help the OS ‘remember’ what 100% or 10% of power left means,” says Galindo. “However, if you don’t do it, you won’t damage the battery.”

A sign that your battery could do with some discharge/recharge time is if the battery says it’s extremely low – say, 2% - but ends up lasting for ages, which may indicate the phone software is out of sync with the battery operation.

22. Restart your phone

That’s the official advice from Google support, as it can flush out any battery-hogging processes running in the background.

23. Try a factory reset

If these tips don’t sort out your battery drain, you can try returning your phone to factory settings. This can help if the issue is that the OS or some downloaded data is corrupted, says Galindo. Back up your phone– or at least make sure your photos are backing up– then head to Settings > System > Reset options. 

24. 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 7/24/2019 with new tips and Android Pie and Q information

[Image credit: Suzanne Kantra/Techlicious, YirgaLab]

Discussion loading

New battery draining fast ?

From Gautam Kumar on June 27, 2020 :: 1:43 am

My phone manufacturing date is March-2019, I just got it today. Does its idle condition over a year has anything to do with its battery health ? Kindly reply ? Its charging time and draining time seems to be on higher side.


New battery draining fast ?

From Gautam Kumar on June 27, 2020 :: 2:01 am

I have purchased pixel 3a. Ita manufacturing date is march -2019. I got it today only. Does this has anything to do with Battery health ? I think it is taking longer time for charging and discharging fast. May kindly suggest. Is battery health is 100%.


Batteries will degrade over time

From Josh Kirschner on June 30, 2020 :: 11:36 pm

Time, the level a battery was charged when stored, heat and the specific battery circuitry can all cause a battery to degrade. So it wouldn’t be surprising that a 15-month old phone wouldn’t have the same battery quality as an newly manufactured one.


My phone is Android and it keeps shutting down When it reached to 80%.

From Siahara Shyne on July 23, 2020 :: 7:48 am



Battery life

From Dave on October 06, 2020 :: 12:14 pm

I understand these comments are several years by now.
New versions of Android OS have “Device Manager ” preloaded or can easily installed on any more recent OS.
Device Manager does a great job of throttling down battery guzzling apps.  You can also give many apps permission to run in the background… a big help at best!


Battery Guru

From Danijel Markov on October 13, 2020 :: 10:08 am

Keep your battery healthy with Battery Guru, protects battery health, displays battery usage information, measures battery capacity (mAh) and many more important features.
Awesome tips for saving your battery.
Download it from PlayStore.


Uninstall apps like which app

From Gobika on October 14, 2020 :: 7:09 am

Uninstall apps like which app is draining your power.It mostly like data saving apps.Otherwise put phone in dark mode,adjust brightness.


Major Battery drainage

From Angr on February 08, 2021 :: 10:55 pm

Can a hidden tracking device drain your car battery. My car has a major drainage when I lock it up and we’ve checked everything possible including the bOOt light


That seems highly unlikley

From Josh Kirschner on February 09, 2021 :: 10:35 am

While I guess, theoretically, a hidden tracking device that someone spent the time to attach to your electrical system could drain the battery, that seems an unlikely culprit. That device wouldn’t seem to use enough power to significantly drain a car battery overnight. More likely it is a bad battery or some fault in the electrical system. Also, depending on your vehicle model, the 12v plugs may remain active even when car power is off, so any devices plugged in to these can drain the battery, as well. Similarly with your OBD2 port, if you have monitor plugged in there.

How much drainage is happening and over what period of time?


Who cares or who don't care but

From Be known as no one is as one known pljames on February 16, 2021 :: 12:18 am

Well as I know this is just a needle in a hay stack and u Nat be or may not be but it’s just   in. One ear and out the other hahahaha or in another way 🤣. Look at me as if I’m a 6 yr old being told .  But but. Yeah. Just wasted time of you’res,, VALUABLE time,,if mine as,, well as yours   but just an period at the end if a paragraph or sentence bieng at that ,,, that’s the way the ball bounced…


Battery discharged

From Hycienth Ogbonna on February 28, 2021 :: 1:49 pm

To The Bear,
Battery after fully charged just a single call or touch the battery will be red,I have changed new battery,off all all applications, darker the screen yet is not a helping matter, what will I do next?
Thanks yours
Hycienth Ogbonna


Kevin Yrie

From Kevinbiyrie14 on April 14, 2021 :: 7:50 am


Battery drainage

From Ismail Umar on April 26, 2021 :: 1:38 pm

I bought a new charger for my phone, the charger is fast but what I got to realize is that my battery drain faster, with the new charger, I lost the real original charger,...could it be an issue with the new charger i bought


Don't think it's the charger

From Josh Kirschner on May 04, 2021 :: 10:58 am

Assuming the new charger is fulling charging your phone, I don’t see how that would cause faster battery drain.


Question about no 21

From Ryan on May 05, 2021 :: 10:00 pm

I know this is old phone and i wont expect a response.

But, i wanted to ask if letting the battery die out really does help with recalibrating the OS. If so, can i have any sources that supports this, or maybe from your own experience ?


It "may" help, but probably not.

From Josh Kirschner on May 11, 2021 :: 5:46 pm

Newer Lithium ion batteries use chips and software to manage battery charge and capacity, so letting your battery die out likely won’t help. Though, it doesn’t hurt, either, so there is nothing wrong with giving it a shot if you’re experiencing odd battery behavior. But if your battery is old or damaged, your only real solution is to replace it.


how to end battery degradation

From Ovidiu on June 01, 2021 :: 2:40 am

Just use a Chargie device. It limits overnight charging to a level that you set, just like electric cars do. The battery will live happily ever after.


Battery Drain Issue

From Shanni Collis on October 12, 2021 :: 7:36 am

my android tablet drains battery so fast and when its still 90%, it shut downs and when i turn it on, it says that empty battery. Help, pls tell me what to do.


Sounds like a bad battery

From Josh Kirschner on October 12, 2021 :: 4:30 pm

What you’re describing sounds like a bad battery. Batteries have a limited number of charge cycles, so if this is an old tablet, it’s not surprising that you would start seeing that type of issue. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do about it except replacing the battery, which isn’t possible or practical for many tablets. If the tablet is new-ish and still under warranty, I would get that addressed with the manufacturer.


best way

From Andreea Sandru on October 12, 2021 :: 8:19 am

you can use a Chargie device to limit overnight charging. It does the trick.


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