Thursday, June 17, 2010

Guide to Managing Your EVO Battery: Things You Should Know

Before we get start talking about the techniques I used to solve my battery life issues, there are a few things I think you should know.

I've done a ton of research on this issue. This is not just a problem with the EVO, or for that matter, the Android OS. I've seen these same issues on numerous websites and forums relating to the the Hero, the Incredible, the Palm Pre, Blackberry Storm, and many others. While these instructions are specific to Android and the EVO, similar techniques can be applied to any smart phone.

Tips and tricks are great, and you might get lucky and find one that works for you, but chances are you'll cripple your phone (i.e., not get the most out of the features you could) or simply eliminate a symptom and not address the cause. I prefer to address the cause and get the most out of my phone.

There is a lot of bad advice out there. Two of my favorites, turn off bluetooth when you're not using it and don't use live wallpapers. Bluetooth does not significantly drain your battery when it is not connected. And live wallpapers have an insignificant impact on overall battery usage. How many of you have them turned off because you've been told they suck too much power? I'll explain more later.

The Primary Sources of Battery Usage

I categorize the primary sources of battery usage into four categories:
  1. Usage Patterns
  2. Communications (Bluetooth, Wireless, GPS, 3G/4G, and the Cellular Radio)
  3. Network Usage
  4. Rogue Apps
Usage patterns have to do with how you use your phone. How much time do you spend checking and sending emails or texts, downloading apps, browsing the web, playing games, or placing and receiving calls? All of these affect battery life. Most of them significantly. With a powerful phone like and EVO, its easy to drain your battery quickly. Compared with my Blackberry, web browsing on the EVO is lightning fast. Thirty minutes of browsing on the Blackberry can be accomplished in a fraction of the time on the EVO. As a result, your battery will drain faster.

Communications are everything related to the various radios on your device including Bluetooth, Wireless, 3G/4G, and the cellular radio. When these radios are on and in use, they can use a significant amount of power. When receiving a weak signal and continually searching for a connection, they can consume even more power. Understanding how to manage these services is crucial to achieve optimum battery life.

I limit network usage to the activities your phone performs to sync various information services, such as email, facebook, news, or weather, to name a few. If your phone is syncing too frequently, it could be sending/receiving a significant amount of data. As a result, your battery drains even when you aren't using it.

The final category are rogue apps. Rogue apps can take a couple of different forms. The first is an app that performs frequent syncing without you knowing or having the ability to configure. The second is an app that doesn't allow your phone to properly sleep when the screen is off. Both can have disasterous results and both can be difficult to troubleshoot.

Next: The Approach and Control Test ...

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