Monitoring Your Android Device's Battery - dummies

Monitoring Your Android Device’s Battery

By Dan Gookin

Your Android device displays its current battery status at the top of the screen, in the status area, next to the time. The icons used are similar to those shown here. They can appear white-on-black or use a charming color scheme, as illustrated in the figure.

android-battery-status
Battery status icons.

You might also see an icon for a dead battery.

  • Heed those low-battery warnings! You hear a warning sound and see a notification whenever the battery power gets low. Another sound chimes whenever the battery gets very low.
  • When the battery level is too low, the device shuts itself off.
  • The best way to deal with low battery power is to connect the Android to a power source: Either plug it into a wall socket or use the USB cable to connect it to a computer. The phone or tablet begins charging itself immediately; plus, you can use the device while it’s charging.

  • Android devices charge more efficiently when plugged into a wall socket rather than a computer.
  • You aren’t required to fully charge the battery. For example, if you have only 20 minutes before the next flight, and you get only a 70 percent battery level, that’s great. Well, it’s not great, but it’s far better than a lower battery level.
  • Battery percentage values are best-guess estimates. Just because you get 8 hours of use from the device and the battery meter shows 20 percent remaining doesn’t imply that 20 percent equals 2 more hours of use. In practice, the amount of time you have left is much less than that. As a rule, when the battery percentage value gets low, the battery appears to drain faster.

Determining what is drawing power from your Android

The Battery screen in the Settings app informs you of the device’s battery usage over time, as well as which apps have been consuming power, as illustrated here.

android-consumption
Power consumption details.

To view the battery usage, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Choose Battery.
    On Samsung devices, choose the Device Maintenance category, and then choose Battery. You see general information about battery usage, plus some power-saving tools, shown on the left in the figure. At the bottom of the screen (swipe down), you see which apps are using power.
  3. Tap the Battery icon at the top of the screen.
    You see a charge illustrating battery power over time, plus which apps are using the most power.

The number and variety of items shown on the battery usage screen depend on what you’ve been doing with your Android between charges. Don’t be surprised if an item doesn’t show up in the list; not every app consumes a lot of battery power.

Extending your Android’s battery life

A surefire way to make a battery last a good, long time is to never turn on the device in the first place. That’s kind of impractical. So instead, I offer a smattering of suggestions you can follow to help prolong battery life:

Dim the screen: The touchscreen display draws quite a lot of battery power. Although a dim screen can be more difficult to see, especially outdoors, it saves on battery life.

Lower the volume: Consider lowering the volume for the various noises the Android makes, especially notifications.

Disable the vibration options: Vibration is caused by a teensy motor. Though you don’t see much battery savings by disabling the vibration options, it’s better than no savings.

Turn off Bluetooth: When you’re not using Bluetooth, turn it off. The fastest way to do that is to use the Bluetooth quick action.

Rather than fuss with these individual settings, consider activating your Android’s battery-saver feature. Illustrated in the figure, switch on the master control by Battery Saver. When the power gets low, the actions listed earlier are all taken: The screen is dimmed, and services are disabled. The result is more battery life without fully affecting overall device performance.

  • Samsung devices feature an “ultra” battery-saving mode. In this mode, the screen dims and color is disabled. The Home screen is replaced by a special interface that lists only necessary features. Use this mode when your phone’s battery level dips below 30%, and it helps extend the battery life for hours.
  • The Wi-Fi radio can drain the battery quickly, even when you’re not using it. When driving long distances, disable Wi-Fi on your Android. If you don’t, it seems that the device tries to connect with every Wi-Fi signal available. Especially in highly populated areas, this activity can quickly — and surprisingly — drain the battery.