Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Improving battery life of HTC One X

HTC One X is an amazing phone and has got pretty good reviews from The Verge, Engadget and Gizmodo with Sharif Sakr from Engadget even going on to say that "No matter how hard it[Samsung Galaxy SIII] tries, it just isn't greater than the sum of the HTC One X's parts". I bought it myself and have been using for around 3 months now. But one really troubling aspect with this phone is its battery life which is further exacerbated by the fact that you cannot remove the battery of this phone. While HTC claims significant performance improvement in its battery, the phone seems to discharge very quickly and charge very slowly. So here are some tips to improve and conserve your battery life.

Updated 22 Jun 2012: Avoid using live wallpapers
Updated 5 Oct 2012: Limiting background processes and Setting network mode

1. Fully charge your phone before turning it on for the first time

This is is very important and there are people who have suffered because of this. If you didn't there is a good chance that your battery life would be poor. But all is not lost, follow these simple instructions to recalibrate your battery.

Charge the phone before it reaches less than 20% battery life for at least the next 5 charges with the phone being turned off. Make sure you let it complete the full charge (the light will turn green at full charge). After the 5th full charge while off, boot the phone. Once it's finished, hold down the power button until the phone says it will reset. Keep holding the button. Once it reboots, you're done!
Instructions taken from here and they do work :)

2. Charge the phone using power adapter

This comes officially from HTC. According to HTC FAQs for One X "Always charge the phone using the power adapter since charging through USB uses low voltage." And it does work. It seems that if I charge my phone using USB then it drains more quickly than after being charged using power adapter.

3. Always install updates

This should be a no brainer. Always install updates. Since buying this phone I have got two software updates - 1.28 and 1.29, and after installing them I do feel the battery life has improved. This not only applies to your phone software but also to the apps which you have installed on your phone.

4. Brightness level

When buying HTC One X, its display (and uni-body design) was the deal breaker for me. Its simply gorgeous. But it comes at a price. It is a huge battery sucker. In fact it is going to consume the maximum battery power.

My suggestion is that you should keep the brightness equal to or below 35% to get the maximum from your battery. This keeps the beauty of the screen intact and consumes less power.

5. Which browser are you using?

If you hate Android's stock browser like me then you would be out trying other browsers. And there are plenty of them. Why should you consider choosing the right browser - because it is going to be a pretty heavily used app on your Android device.

While trying out browsers I ran into Dolphin Browser HD. Its probably the best Android browser right now. Alas, its another battery sucker. The same goes for its little brother Dolphin Browser Mini. They even have a battery saver add-on.

After giving Google Chrome, Firefox, Opera Mini, Opera Mobile a try, I would say Chrome comes at the top. It has near full functionality (doesn't support flash, and I am glad it doesn't) and does the job pretty good. On second place I would put Opera Mini - it not only saves your battery but also your data consumption.

6. Keeping watch on your battery

The default battery indicator of One X doesn't show the exact percentage of battery remaining. For that you need to go to "Settings > Power > Battery use". To keep constant watch on my battery I use Battery Indicator which shows percentage remaining on the status bar.

The only permission this app requires - automatically start at boot.

7. Don't use a task killer

I am going against conventional wisdom here. But this article on Android Central throws light on task managers and task killers. Simply put - task managers are good; task killers are bad. I had installed Easy Battery Saver but didn't see any significant battery improvement on my phone, rather I guess whatever battery life it was able to save, it was using it to run itself. Plus these kind of apps require a hell lot of permission which actually freaks me out. I think the best task manager for Android is Android itself.

8. Turning off services like 3G data connection, GPS, Internet, Auto-sync, Wifi, Bluetooth when not required

This is pretty easy with all widgets on your One X to see and enable / disable the services as and when required.

9. Camera

The camera on One X was another thing that pulled me towards this phone. But again its another battery hogger. So if you are low on battery then avoid using camera for long duration.

10. Avoid using live wallpapers (Update 22 Jun 2012)

No matter how cool live wallpapers look, they are battery hoggers. I installed The Avengers Live Wallpaper and it sucked my battery dry in no time, even when the display was turned off.

11. Limiting background processes

Go to "Settings > Developer options > Background process limit" and there you will be able to set how many background process can be run on Android. By default its set to Standard limit, you can set it to maximum of four processes. I set it to four for a week and was able to see a very visible improvement in my battery life and also responsiveness of my Sense was much better. But a word of caution! This is a developer option setting so I think its not intended to be used for production. It is going to impact multitasking and if you are a heavy user then this might not be the right option for you. You might also want to have a look at this discussion of Android Central forum before proceeding with this option.

12. Setting the Network mode

Go to "Settings > Mobile network > Network mode". If you do not have any active 3G data plans then you can select GSM only so that your mobile won't look for 3G signal.

I normally get around 12-14 hours of battery life (from 100% to 20%) on moderate usage with checking mails, Facebook, Tumblr, playing Temple Run and Angry Birds, snapping up couple of pictures.

If you have any other tips on how can I improve or conserve battery then do put them in the comments.