Apr 05 AT 1:52 PM Christopher Earle 15 Comments

G1 Power Management: How to Get More Time From Your Friendly Android

One of the first things a user discovers when converting from traditional cellular or 2G enabled smart phones to 3G and Wi-Fi enabled phones is that battery life can be maddeningly short. Overcoming this is simply a matter of managing your networks, screen brightness, and thinking of the G1 as being a computer handheld.

Network Management

The first thing to understand is what data networks use the most power. From that, network usage can be monitored to extend battery life. Networks that the G1 can connect to are Wi-Fi, 3G cellular, and 2G cellular. All three have their strengths and their weaknesses, and all three use a varying amount of power.

Of all the wireless networks the G1 can connect to, Wi-Fi uses the most power. It is also the fastest network for the G1. Wi-Fi is good when external power is available either while connected to the network or to re-charge the phone between uses. Wi-Fi is most appropriate at home or in a coffee shop, especially if there is a table near a power outlet to plug in the phone’s charger. What you lose in power consumption is often made up in data transfer speeds.

The most common network for the G1 to connect to is the T-Mobile 3G network. Compared to other 3G networks, T-Mobile’s is usually quite fast and is available in most metropolitan areas. 3G networks still use more power than 2G. Although most of the phone’s features work well on a 2G network, they are simply faster and more responsive on the faster 3G network

If you are painfully low on battery power or outside of most metropolitan areas, switching to 2G is an option. Most of your phone’s features will still work, but things like maps may need to be cached via third party software. 2G is the best network for conserving battery power.

Managing your network will help you extend the time between charges on your T-Mobile G1. One of the best ways to manage networks is through a battery management app.

Power Manager: Intelligent Device Management

Home Screen for Power Manager

Home Screen for Power Manager

Power Manager, available in the Android Market, is a powerful power profiler that can change most aspects of your phone’s power usage based on the amount of battery left or how the phone is being charged. Because USB charging is slower, there can be different settings for USB charging and charging via an A/C adapter. Phone features can be automatically disabled as the battery level drops.

Triggers for automatically turning features on and off can be:

  • Plugging the phone into the A/C adapter
  • Plugging the phone into a USB port or a USB charger
  • Battery level reaching a particular percentage, like turning off Wi-Fi if the battery drops below a pre-determined level.

To manage power consumption, the following can be automatically adjusted based on a pre-determined trigger:

Creating Triggers for a Custom Profile

Creating Triggers for a Custom Profile

  • The amount of time the phone is awake during a call can be adjusted to between 10 seconds and 2 minutes
  • The phone can be set to stay awake whenever the keyboard is open
  • The ringer mode can be set to normal, silent, or vibrate only
  • The brightness of the screen can be set to a value between 0 and 255
  • The screen timeout can be set to a value between 30 seconds and 10 minutes, with another option for setting timeout to never
  • Wi-Fi can be turned on or off
  • Bluetooth can be turned on or off
  • The cellular network locator can be turned on or off
  • The GPS system can be turned on or off
  • Data synchronization can be enabled or disabled

There are also options for leaving the above features unchanged from the last state.

Another powerful feature of Power Manager is the easy touch toggles for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and Cell Locator. By simply touching a button on the screens, these features can be enabled and disabled. Power Manager also constantly checks the health of your battery, on the off-chance that it starts to go bad.

Portable Power: External Batteries and Chargers

Another good tool for people who simply can’t be near A/C power are one of the many external chargers available. These chargers output USB level power and are available as sealed rechargeable units or small units that take AA batteries. One thing that seems to work well for people who drive a lot is a car charger. Plugging your G1 in when driving is one of the most effective ways to extend battery life. Older USB chargers for other phones may work with the your phone. The only downside is that they charge the phone more slowly than chargers designed specifically for the G1.

Conclusion

With a little bit of care and feeding, the G1’s battery life can be more than adequate. Most users report that a combination of these techniques works very well for battery management. By carrying a charger in your bag and plugging in the phone whenever A/C is available, the G1 battery is quite adequate.

Christopher Earle has been working as a freelance writer since 1987. He currently lives in the Denver, Colorado area with his wife, son, and their two cats. He has been a fan of open source software for many years.

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  • Roy

    This is definitely something every user should know, because the first week you’ll definitely run out of power.

    I would also recommend Locale or Useful Switchers, because saving batterylife is one thing, but that is not the reason you bought a smart phone.

    I don’t recommend using chargers everywhere you go, because you should let your phone run out every time before recharging to maintain battery health. A T-mobile tip is to let your battery run out untill the phone shuts down, charge untill the light turns green, charge for a few more hours and then power the phone back on. Doing this regularly can make your battery last longer.

    Also, there seem to be batteries that have 1700mah for the G1 (buying one soon).

    • http://www.clan31337.org adam

      i’ve been in countless arguments about this ‘battery health and memory’ nonsense. lithium ion batteries do *NOT* have a memory.

      now, manufacturers may develop some type of code running alongside to MONITOR the battery, but by design, li-ion batteries should be kept ABOVE a 50% charge level for longest life.

      even in the tips and tricks on t-mobile’s site it says to full drain the battery twice at the beginning to calibrate it, but i just don’t really imagine that as a possibility.

      li-ion batteries are all about #’s of cycles. they are limited, and will eventually stop.

      • http://Website Alex

        You’re absolutely right. However, I read that the ideal charge for a Li-ion battery’s lifespan is 40%. I rarely charge my devices fully, and usually keep them between 1/4 and 1/2 charge.

  • Roy

    Sorry for the double post.

    I am going to try to see how the cellular locating compares between 2G and 3G networks. My guess is that because there are more 2G transmitters that it should be more accurate in locating than 3G networks. If that is the case, then I’m definitely switching to 2G networks standard (better for Locale).

  • http://commonsware.com/Android/ Mark Murphy

    I’m not sure the above advice about the battery is necessarily sound. AFAIK, the Android battery is lithium ion, and AFAIK, you’re not supposed to deep-drain them all that frequently.

    For example:

    http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/lithium-ion-battery2.htm

    http://www.batteryuniversity.com/parttwo-34.htm

    Anybody have a reference that says Li-Ion batteries should be deep-drained more than, say, once a month?

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      I’m no expert on Li-Ion batteries, but from what I have read it was only helpful to deep drain when you first got your phone and while attempting to calibrate the battery.

      I’ll do some more research into it.

      My battery performance has felt like it increased since the first month I had my G1. Then again, I have a car charger and 2nd charger at my desk.

  • zoetrope

    The WiFi vs. 3G power drain needs a bit of refinement in this article. 3G is actually a bigger drain on the battery than WiFi if the signal is moderate to low. If you do not have a strong 3G signal, and have access to a wireless hotspot, WiFi is better and less of a draw on the battery.

    http://ericscorner.blogspot.com/2008/11/which-uses-more-power-wifi-or-3g.html

  • roy

    @ Adam

    Thanks for the info, there definitely seems to be truth in what you say. You do say that there is a #cycles before the battery dies… doesn’t that mean that you should let it run low before recharging (if 1 recharge = 1 cycles, then fewer recharges = longer battery life).

    I do now know that when I buy a new battery that I’ll sell the old one rapidly, before it expires.

  • Pingback: Améliorer l’autonomie de votre smartphone Android()

  • Gammax

    seems like a sweet app, cant wait for my g1

  • Pingback: Android and Me()

  • Greg

    WiSyncPlus is another option of power savings. WiSyncPlus actually has the potential to save significantly more power than can Power Manager. Tests indicate estimated standby times of 400+ hours can be achieved with WiSyncPlus. That’s actually more than is advertised for the iPhone. Additionally, WiSyncPlus also monitors signal strength vs current mode and actively makes recommendations for you to change settings to further improve battery life.

    Also WiSyncPlus is insanely configurable and continues to improve with every release. So if you’re looking to save yet more battery life, WiSyncPlus can save power (and more) in ways Power Manager simply can not.

    With the combination of WiSyncPlus + DimBot I rarely need to do anything to improve standby battery life – unlike with Power Manager. I typically see two to three days of life. Obviously exact times will differ greatly based on actual phone use.

  • Greg

    As for battery issues, there is some confusion here. Lion batteries should never be deeply discharged. Likewise, they should never been overcharged or discharged/charged too rapidly. Not to mention, temp is also a critical factor for Lion batteries and affects how quickly they can be charged/discharged. This is why almost all lion packs have built-in charge circuits which constantly monitor and protect the battery pack. In short, if the circuit truly allows a deep discharge, a hardware engineer fell down on the job. And this isn’t likely as unhappy lion packs have a habit of bursting in flames or exploding.

    With that concern out of the way, based strictly on what I’ve read, Android does have an adaptive algorithm which automatically adjusts to different packs. This is because different size packs can be installed plus not every pack or even every cell in used to make packs are exactly the same. The reason why a pseudo-deep discharge is often recommended is because this allows the OS to accurately **estimate** how much battery life is in the attached battery pack. What the phone may have estimated was 20% today, may actually be a 50% charge tomorrow, after the phone has had a chance to calibrate to the pack.

    So if you are having trouble with battery life based strictly on ESTIMATED battery charge displayed by your phone, do try to run you battery pack down to 5%-10%. Just be cautious as enabling something like your GPS with a light charge may actually force the phone to turn off in a not-so-nice way. After you do this a couple of times, chances are you’ll notice a healthier battery charge estimated by your phone.

  • ashique
  • http://nangall.com/products/intelligent_trigger_modules intelligent trigger

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  1. RoyGuest 6 years ago

    This is definitely something every user should know, because the first week you’ll definitely run out of power.

    I would also recommend Locale or Useful Switchers, because saving batterylife is one thing, but that is not the reason you bought a smart phone.

    I don’t recommend using chargers everywhere you go, because you should let your phone run out every time before recharging to maintain battery health. A T-mobile tip is to let your battery run out untill the phone shuts down, charge untill the light turns green, charge for a few more hours and then power the phone back on. Doing this regularly can make your battery last longer.

    Also, there seem to be batteries that have 1700mah for the G1 (buying one soon).

    • adamGuest 6 years ago

      i’ve been in countless arguments about this ‘battery health and memory’ nonsense. lithium ion batteries do *NOT* have a memory.

      now, manufacturers may develop some type of code running alongside to MONITOR the battery, but by design, li-ion batteries should be kept ABOVE a 50% charge level for longest life.

      even in the tips and tricks on t-mobile’s site it says to full drain the battery twice at the beginning to calibrate it, but i just don’t really imagine that as a possibility.

      li-ion batteries are all about #’s of cycles. they are limited, and will eventually stop.

      • AlexGuest 5 years ago

        You’re absolutely right. However, I read that the ideal charge for a Li-ion battery’s lifespan is 40%. I rarely charge my devices fully, and usually keep them between 1/4 and 1/2 charge.

  2. RoyGuest 6 years ago

    Sorry for the double post.

    I am going to try to see how the cellular locating compares between 2G and 3G networks. My guess is that because there are more 2G transmitters that it should be more accurate in locating than 3G networks. If that is the case, then I’m definitely switching to 2G networks standard (better for Locale).

  3. Mark MurphyGuest 6 years ago

    I’m not sure the above advice about the battery is necessarily sound. AFAIK, the Android battery is lithium ion, and AFAIK, you’re not supposed to deep-drain them all that frequently.

    For example:

    http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/lithium-ion-battery2.htm

    http://www.batteryuniversity.com/parttwo-34.htm

    Anybody have a reference that says Li-Ion batteries should be deep-drained more than, say, once a month?

    • I’m no expert on Li-Ion batteries, but from what I have read it was only helpful to deep drain when you first got your phone and while attempting to calibrate the battery.

      I’ll do some more research into it.

      My battery performance has felt like it increased since the first month I had my G1. Then again, I have a car charger and 2nd charger at my desk.

  4. zoetropeGuest 6 years ago

    The WiFi vs. 3G power drain needs a bit of refinement in this article. 3G is actually a bigger drain on the battery than WiFi if the signal is moderate to low. If you do not have a strong 3G signal, and have access to a wireless hotspot, WiFi is better and less of a draw on the battery.

    http://ericscorner.blogspot.com/2008/11/which-uses-more-power-wifi-or-3g.html

  5. royGuest 6 years ago

    @ Adam

    Thanks for the info, there definitely seems to be truth in what you say. You do say that there is a #cycles before the battery dies… doesn’t that mean that you should let it run low before recharging (if 1 recharge = 1 cycles, then fewer recharges = longer battery life).

    I do now know that when I buy a new battery that I’ll sell the old one rapidly, before it expires.

  6. Améliorer l’autonomie de votre smartphone AndroidGuest 6 years ago

    [...] : Cet article, à défaut d’être une traduction littérale, est clairement inspiré de ce post de l’excellent Android and Me. Ca faisait longtemps que l’idée d’un post sur [...]

  7. GammaxGuest 6 years ago

    seems like a sweet app, cant wait for my g1

  8. Android and MeGuest 6 years ago

    [...] Yes [...]

  9. GregGuest 6 years ago

    WiSyncPlus is another option of power savings. WiSyncPlus actually has the potential to save significantly more power than can Power Manager. Tests indicate estimated standby times of 400+ hours can be achieved with WiSyncPlus. That’s actually more than is advertised for the iPhone. Additionally, WiSyncPlus also monitors signal strength vs current mode and actively makes recommendations for you to change settings to further improve battery life.

    Also WiSyncPlus is insanely configurable and continues to improve with every release. So if you’re looking to save yet more battery life, WiSyncPlus can save power (and more) in ways Power Manager simply can not.

    With the combination of WiSyncPlus + DimBot I rarely need to do anything to improve standby battery life – unlike with Power Manager. I typically see two to three days of life. Obviously exact times will differ greatly based on actual phone use.

  10. GregGuest 6 years ago

    As for battery issues, there is some confusion here. Lion batteries should never be deeply discharged. Likewise, they should never been overcharged or discharged/charged too rapidly. Not to mention, temp is also a critical factor for Lion batteries and affects how quickly they can be charged/discharged. This is why almost all lion packs have built-in charge circuits which constantly monitor and protect the battery pack. In short, if the circuit truly allows a deep discharge, a hardware engineer fell down on the job. And this isn’t likely as unhappy lion packs have a habit of bursting in flames or exploding.

    With that concern out of the way, based strictly on what I’ve read, Android does have an adaptive algorithm which automatically adjusts to different packs. This is because different size packs can be installed plus not every pack or even every cell in used to make packs are exactly the same. The reason why a pseudo-deep discharge is often recommended is because this allows the OS to accurately **estimate** how much battery life is in the attached battery pack. What the phone may have estimated was 20% today, may actually be a 50% charge tomorrow, after the phone has had a chance to calibrate to the pack.

    So if you are having trouble with battery life based strictly on ESTIMATED battery charge displayed by your phone, do try to run you battery pack down to 5%-10%. Just be cautious as enabling something like your GPS with a light charge may actually force the phone to turn off in a not-so-nice way. After you do this a couple of times, chances are you’ll notice a healthier battery charge estimated by your phone.

  11. intelligent triggerGuest 3 years ago

    Great weblog here! Also your website quite a bit up fast! What web host are you the use of? Can I am getting your affiliate hyperlink for your host? I want my web site loaded up as quickly as yours lol