Battery life is a major issue with all Android phones. Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google believes, “If you are not getting a day, there is something wrong”. The trouble is that most Android users don’t manage to get a day of battery life out of their handsets. When I got my Sony Ericsson Xperia X10i, I basically had to charge it round the clock. However, the good news is that there are a few things you can do to drastically improve your phone’s battery life. My Xperia now lasts for a day with moderate usage, and even a couple of days, if used lightly. Yes, this is the same handset that was consuming 35% battery overnight, while lying idle. Based on my own experience, here is a quick guide to drastically improving your Sony Ericsson Xperia X10’s (or any other Android phone’s) battery life.
Burn-in the Battery
My battery life improved on its own after using it for some time. If you have just purchased your handset, force the battery to go through at least 5-6 complete charge-discharge cycles.
Update Your Firmware
Firmware updates can make a big difference. Sony Ericsson Xperia X10’s R2BA026 is a huge improvement over the initial R2A016 firmware that I had received.
Disable What You Don’t Need
Disable features that you don’t need. For example, I use a 2G SIM, so I have disabled WCDMA (3G) (Settings–>Wireless Controls–>Mobile Networks–>Network Mode). Disabling Wi-Fi and Bluetooth can also significantly improve your battery life. I would also recommend that you allow your handset to auto-adjust the brightness (Settings–>Sound and Display–>Brightness), if it has an ambient sensor. Some users also disable GPS. However, I find GPS to be too handy to have disabled. Moreover, as long as an app doesn’t explicitly request GPS services, it won’t consume any power.
Be Careful about the Apps You Use
Badly coded apps can have a disastrous effect on your battery life. For example, a recent release of Facebook had a bug that prevented the system from ever going to sleep. As a result, that app tanked my battery in just a few hours.
Although pundits advice against using Task Managers in Android, I would recommend installing one. Just don’t use it every time you need to exit an app. Instead use it to kill the apps you know are troublesome. In general it’s a good idea to kill any (so called) HD games that are running in the background; I have found Gameloft games to be particularly troublesome. If you are experiencing unnaturally fast battery discharge rates, then you can use trial and error to find out which app is causing the problem. A more sophisticated approach is to use an app like WatchDog to monitor resource consumption of processes. Many people also swear by Autokiller (requires root).
You need to be especially careful about apps which connect to the internet to fetch data at regular intervals – e.g. Facebook, Twitter, email clients and RSS Feed readers. Don’t set the polling interval too high, else you will run out of battery in a few hours.
Widgets are another category of apps that can be battery hogs. Don’t use a widget, unless you really need it.
Root Your Phone
Rooting most handsets is pretty easy. The Universal Androot as well as SuperOneClick is capable of rooting a host of handsets including the X10. Xperia X10 owners can also refer to this thread on XDA for rooting their handset. Once you have rooted your handset, go ahead and purchase an app called SetCPU. You can download it for free from here, but it’s worth purchasing anyway.
SetCPU allows you to throttle your CPU on the fly to reduce battery consumption. Different people have different recommendations. The screenshot embedded below shows the configuration that I use. Feel free to experiment and find your comfort zone.
Basically, the important thing is that you should throttle your processor when the screen is off, and you should throttle your processor when your battery is about to die.
That’s it! If you follow the steps mentioned in this article carefully, you should end up with an Android handset with above average battery backup. In case, you need still more battery life, consider getting a spare battery or one with a higher capacity.
PS: If you are experiencing unusually high battery consumption, download an app called Spare Parts. Use the “Battery History” section to diagnose troublesome apps. I also use a nifty widget called aiSystemWidget for tracking battery consumption. Many people also swear by battery savers like JuiceDefender or UltimateJuice. However, I have had a bad experience with them, and found that I can do just as well without ever using them.