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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