Nov 28 AT 4:30 PM Dustin Earley 70 Comments

Real world tests show task killers still don’t give you better battery life

Droid Charge battery 4G LTE

Ah, task killers. One of the most debated apps in Android history. Bring up the task killer debate among any group of loyal Android fans today, and you’ll most likely see some tempers flare. Even if everyone present is in agreement. But why?

In theory, task killers (or task managers) are a necessary tool in the Android arsenal. There have been plenty of times when an app won’t close or open, and the only way to fix it is to kill it and start over. Or maybe you’re a developer and you need to kill or manage apps as a part of the development process. Unfortunately, task killers are rarely used in these kinds of situations. Instead, they’re used as the first line of defense against battery problems and sluggish performance. Every time someone less informed picks up their phone, it’s kill everything, every time.

For quite some time now, it’s been shown that task killers do not increase battery life, and they do not make your phone faster. There are a million and one technical reasons for this (see here, and here, and here), but it comes down to how Android manages apps and memory. Android doesn’t need a task killer, because it’s smart enough to manage apps on its own. If you need to see some real world tests to back that up, then we’ve got you covered.

PC World did some relatively extensive tests on five different phones (EVO 3D, Sensation, Thunderbolt, Bionic, Galaxy S II) to see how using a task killer played a role in battery life. The test used is rather simple. Each device was tested six times, three times using a task killer (Advanced Task Killer) and three times without. A video loop was played on 4G, at maximum brightness, until the phone died. The phone using a task killer had the app set to “safe,” so it only killed “apps that aren’t open but still consume memory,” every 30 minutes.

The best increase any device saw was 4.2% using a task killer. The worst results were a 0.5% decrease. Tests like this aren’t the final word in the task killer debate, but they certainly add some weight to the argument against them. Especially when you consider that the test was used with a task killer on safe. Not agressive, paired with a unending amount of manual kills. In that kind of situation, you can assume that the results would be worse.

However you decide to run your phone is entirely up to you, but take it from the experts. Using a task killer will not give you significantly better battery life. In some cases, it can make it even worse. Instead, try tweaking your screen brightness and changing how often apps automatically pull data from online. Those two settings alone can make a world of difference.

Via: Life Hacker

Source: PC World

Dustin Earley: Tech enthusiast; avid gamer; all around jolly guy.

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  • itzxdjx

    Ah idk I still will use my task killer, I do like how task mngr are getting built in into all skins of andriod. I guess it is just a power user thing.

    • geeknik

      Guess I’m not a power user then, because I have never used a task killer on any of my Android phones.

    • Tangent

      Just out of curiosity, why? It’s being proven time and again that it’s not worth it…

      • Dustin Earley

        People can’t get enough of that control placebo.

        • AsakuraZero

          well sometimes my battery starts to drain and the sgs2 or xperia got hot, so i would either restart the phone or kill all the apps.

          but… lets call that a special case

      • theirishboxer

        Its just like task manager on windows it has its uses but you have to know what you’re doing, otherwise your just killing things for no reason

  • Triplanetary

    I agree completely, and I try to tell my friends that whenever it comes up (without sounding like a zealot, of course). Even if you need to kill apps manually, Android has that functionality natively.

    I did once have a situation where Twitter was using obscene amounts of battery power and cutting hours out of my Nexus S’s battery life. Rather than trying to constantly kill it, I just disabled its background syncing. Problem solved. Twitter disappeared from by battery use screen entirely.

    • counsel

      Don’t your results show otherwise on all by newer units? Sort of like saying faster kids only win 3 out of 5 times :) just because you don’t use one doesn’t mean they aren’t or can’t be useful…

    • avrillapete

      Twitter did the same thing to me just the other day, dropped my phone to 20% in less than 3 hours, so I uninstalled it. Didn’t use it enough to even check settings.

      I don’t use a task killer, but I run system panel, which I suppose could be a task killer (not auto), but I use it more like task manager in windows, just because I like seeing all the info about my phone.

  • magnum80

    “Even if you need to kill apps manually, Android has that functionality natively.”

    Totally agree. Also told my friends, that’s all you need for regular usage. Power users and devs may off course differ. I’m a big fan of staying with native stuff as much as possible.

    This article reminds me of discussions about hard disk defragmentation. But that’s a different book :)


  • ndub21

    Yea, I’ve never had one of these, and I won’t ever. I’m not the average Android user because I read sites like this and read the articles about why you don’t need task killers. In my opinion they’re like antivirus programs for Android. Completely unnecessary.

  • sylar

    I kill tasks manually every once and awhile using a task killer but only when all my phones memory is being used and it is starting to get a little bit slow which does still happen even on the Samsung Galaxy S II.

  • golfpedaler

    Every once in while it seems a program will keep running in the background, but I’ve never seen the need to install a task killer.

  • SCJaredJ

    Back when I had my Behold 2, ATK was a life saver. That phone on 1.5…and then 1.6…just churned through battery and it honestly felt like I could get an extra hour or two out of it. But I’ve honestly rarely used any task killer on my subsequent Vibrant, G2X or MyTouch 4G Slide. I tried it a bit on the Vibrant, but on that phone it almost seemed like it ran slower, and I found that managing the 3G/4G signal in weak areas was a way better battery saver (although now that practice….which was an absolute MUST on the G2X doesn’t even matter on the Mytouch 4G slide).

  • pekosROB

    I’m actually surprised some people need a reminder that they don’t really have any advantages. Guess there are some people who don’t snoop around XDA still.

  • erikiksaz

    This misinformation has lead the creators of the those task killing programs to make insane $. I bet they hate news like this.

    • Aladdin

      They rely on misinformation much like antivirus apps creators do

  • Ironzey

    I hate task killers. I have to use it on Sensation if I don’t Sense restarts a lot. I’ll be glad to get rid of it.

    I know a T mobile rep that swears by them. I figure it’s a placebo people feel better when they can “manage” things themselves.

  • Alex

    Just uninstalled ATK after having it for over a year. I trust you guys haha

  • Dirty_Azkals

    Don’t forget even the phone sales person selling you the phone tells you to get one.

    For the average consumer that’s like a MD saying you need to check your balls for cancer once a month.

  • thekaz

    I dunno about battery, but I do know that my Eris (yeah, I know – looking to replace soon) would behave VERY sluggishly if I didn’t use a task killer now and then. Dunno if it was just the old build of Android not managing it well enough, or if it was just the phone.

    I am hoping when I upgrade to either the Razr, Rezound or Nexus, I won’t have need for a task killer anymore…

  • Anton Spaans

    Completely agree with the findings.

    Task-killers are like the ‘close-doors’ button in an elevator. Physically they do nothing; they only have a psychological function.

    • david

      Useless information :-)

      The close door button on elevators is only enabled by a key. It’s generally the maintenance or the firefighters who use it. Since it’s deactivated on normal usage, people think it’s used for placebo…

      Besides, there are many elevators, including residential, that respect the close button function even on normal usage. I know many thyssen-krupp do by default.

      Now let’s live better with that world changing info…

    • Tangent

      That button works in the elevators at my work provided you know the trick. If you just get in and press the floor button, the doors will close after several seconds. If you hit the floor button and the close door button *before* the door chime sounds the doors close immediately.

      I agree with you on the task killers though…

  • Chuxter

    Now that we know Task Killers don’t work, who is going to make an app that kills the task killer? :-P

  • BigBadButcher

    I’ve been saying this since the first 1ghz phone came out its not needed.

  • Marcus Nolasco

    Ugh. I’ve always hated when people I know used task killers on their phones. I always have to explain to them for at least ten minutes that Android is smart enough to handle apps on its own. Now I have these facts to back up my arguments. Thanks! :-)

  • Fief

    I’ve always used a task killer on my phones but mostly for memory, sometimes on my old EVO it would start to lag and I would open it up to fee up some space.

  • spintrex

    Yeah I fell victim with the sight of the Task Killer when first using my GSII thinking it would provide a more optimal battery life. Looking more into it I came across the whole debate of whether the task killer provides a better battery life or if it was actually harmful for the phone.

    In the end turns out that the OS is smart enough to handle itself pretty well and doesn’t really require the use of the task killer. This post just reaffirms what I overlooked at first, great find

  • issac4760

    I like the galaxy s2 task manager. don’t have to get one from market.

  • bossyman15

    who needs it? i don’t even use the build in task killers on my launcher.

  • Nathan

    found found this out the hard way

  • Deeds

    Task killers are pointless and for noobs

  • Dave Smith

    for a limited time you can get the all-new Apple iPhone 4S FREE!

  • android underground

    Task killers that kill apps indiscriminately just to free up memory are useless.

    Task killers tuned to kill apps like Google Maps and Jaxtr to stop them from going online when they’re supposed to be doing nothing are useful.

    Did PC World measure a maximum battery life increase of 4.2% ? That can make the difference between your phone lasting ’till the end of a late night in town or running dry before you get home, which shows that the problem is not the task killers but people who don’t know how to use them.

  • aj

    I usually advise against them but some people get flared up when blogs post PSAs about task killers and try to prove their point or disprove the editors point. Its really annoying then it starts this long strand of comments of people agreeing or continuing to make their point. No task killers except in extreme situations. Buff said

  • hoowally

    I kill tasks manually as well…and only once in a while.

    • GUI_Center

      Do the same here. If I feel phone getting sluggish I will go and close some open tasks that I am not using. Helps out. Task killers are definitely not needed.

  • KatSelezneva

    Task Killer belongs to my favorite applications. As for my phone, unfortunately, it really begins working slowly if too many apps are in the RAM. “Killing” them helps in this situation. And it’s good when useful applications like task managers etc. stay in the RAM. But if a game I use once a week sticks there all the time – I’d better make it away and launch in a couple of days again. My Top-10 Android applications

  • Justin Underscore

    I’ve never used a task killer, but these findings make sense to me based on what I know about them. I do occasionally use the built-in task manager to stop an app if it’s taking up a lot of memory though (especially since I don’t have a lot to go around on my device). Slowdowns from android having to stop, free memory, and then keep going, are something I have noticed every once in a while, and judiciously ending individual apps helps with that a lot.

  • Da Iceman

    The only time I ever really use a task killer is for when i’m either playing a more intensive or more apps that are more intensive, just to keep things running nicely, Otherwise i couldnt care about autokill for battery life, there are many more worse battery killers, find and uninstall the misbehaving app if necessary.

    But I use task killers solely for giving me more need ram, which was most noticable on me htc hero back in the day, more intensive apps like games started to lag unless i killed tasks before hand. On the galaxy S2 dont have to ever really, unless its a misbehaving app or a game or two that i just dont really want to be interrupted with.


    I did use a task killer on my old mytouch3g but it only increased speed for about 10 minutes,which then forced me to use it again. I then realised how much it drained my battery and unintalled instantly! Have never used one on my Nexus s

  • jamieboy88

    Only instance where I have found them handy is with my Nexus S. The launcher gets really bogged down from time to time… its a case of wait for the system to force close it or kill it off yourself.

    On that note, I REAALLY hope the ICS launcher is more stable!

  • desean

    I always agreed task killer is generally useless for Android but there are still some uses for it if you really know how to use them. For a balance view on this topic, it is worth to read this (old) post ->

  • lolobabes

    used it when I was new to android but after reading more into it and based on my experience on froyo never used since

  • Kaote

    Been using android since the G1 came out and can honestly say I’ve never loaded a task killer. With that said if the phone or tablet get sluggish I just reboot it, seems to work.

  • vid500

    Used task killer for one week, probably becouse of the popularity of task killers, but in my eyes it’s just crap. Now for the past year I only use advanced task maneger to close apps that I do not use for long periods of time.

    • vid500

      And the problem is that most of the time task killers mess up your phone, so that some things don’t function as they are suposed to.


    At first, I really thought Task killer can help conserve battery life and helps your phone perform faster. Now, I should avoid using those apps that promises improved battery life and performance.

  • Moi

    All the mentioned tests, including the article itself, emphasize that a taskkiller does not improve the battery life. Agreed, they don’t.

    Do they speed up your phone? Definitely.

    Do I need a test to prove it? No.

    If something needs to be stopped before something else can start, than something else will take longer. Simple logic. Does it noticeably takes longer? That is subjective and would be served best if the threshold could be set through a setting.

  • ishbuggy

    I always try to get my friends to abandon their task killers. I finally have some good validation for that now :)

  • roamdeus

    I only use my taskiller when my phone start acting up and running a lil slow but for saving battery life never have or tried Cuz really how much battery life can u save ….. wat drains my battery is the basics screen ( mine is on auto), talk time and data and u know right there that has nothing to do wit taskiller

  • Monster

    On my nexus s sometimes it goes laggy or jerky when browsing or playing a game. This happens when the available memory is very low. I know because I have a widget that tells me how much Is available. When I kill all tasks the game or browser become smooth again so task managers can be useful. People say that they are pointless over and over, repeating that android shuts down tasks automatically if needed. But in my experience they are useful, just not very often. I have only had to use it a few times since I got the phone (a few months ago).

  • danny8x8

    I agree with monster.
    I have used a low end phone with very limited ram (Galaxy Spica) and also high end one (Galaxy Note). In my experience, those who say task killers are useless have never used a phone with limited ram. Please understand that there is a difference between task killers/task managers and “auto task killers”.

    For new android users with a low end phone, it’s easier to use an auto task killer to kill certain services or process when they try to multi task on the phone as the user does not have to click on anything to keep the phone running smoothly (yeah, I know. It’s debatable what smoothly is). It’s a PITA to have to click on settings/applications/running services/ and then end the rogue service.

    On high end phones, there is usually no need for a task killer, auto or not as the amount of ram is sufficient. However, I foresee newer apps and games demanding more ram and hence high end phones now will probably not have sufficient ram to run them smoothly in about a year’s time. When I got my first android phone, the apks were typically less than 2mb. Now just look at the size of the apks!

  • danny8x8

    My mistake. The article is about task killer and battery life and not performance of phone. Task killers just makes it more convenient to kill task. Some phones come with a task manager pre-installed. Use only if certain apps are misbehaving and killing your battery (probably syn issues. use manual syn instead). More convenient than using the built in android one. Saves a couple of clicks.

  • Billy

    Task killers are totally lame.

  • jdawg334

    I use ATK because the only other way to kill the tasks you don’t need is to go into Apps and force stop each one individually. When I am browsing the web or playing Angry Birds while listening to music on TuneIn, my phone slows to a craw and becomes unresponsive or even reboots. If I open & run the task killer first, I don’t have these problems. I don’t think it is good to have it running at startup or have autokill on like some do because battery life would not improve and may actually worsen since some apps like Google Maps would just shut down and restart over and over since they are required to run in the background.

    • android underground

      Google Maps doesn’t need to run in the background unless you keep services like network location running all the time.

  • ccn_cristi

    I’ve given up task killers ever since I’ve upgraded my phone to Android 2.1.
    The internal Manage applications – Force Stop is enough for killing apps that are stuck.

    • donger

      stopped using task killers a long time ago also.

  • raminscc

    They never did! Not on Linux laptops and not on android. Only use for information and if memory is low it can mess with performance.

  • CoatedMoose

    I can vouch for the usefulness of task killers (when used appropriately). My HTC Magic (a bit old now, locked in for another 3 months), is unusable after it first boots up (too lag-y), and if I don’t use the task killer, the battery lasts 3 hours tops. And that is if I leave the phone sitting on my desk and don’t touch it.

    After task killing a bunch of apps that I don’t regularly use (facebook, gallery, g+, maps, etc) the phone can last for 24h under the same conditions, or I can have it last for a full work day with actual use.

    I also am a fan of apps like WatchDog, that notify you of apps using CPU in the background, occasionally I need to force close an app that starts misbehaving.

    With that said, indiscriminate use of task killers just means your device spends more time and cpu restarting apps that shouldn’t have been killed in the first place.

  • aranea

    I don’t think the only benefit from task killers is the battery life. I use one for apps that use memory and/or cpu. I like to keep my phone running smoothly all the time.

  • megatec45

    Wish there was a way to disable apps that auto start and are never used. Task killers only shut them down for a few seconds and then they restart.

    • Roger

      You can ‘freeze’ them if you use an app like Titanium backup or Link2SD (you may have to have a rooted phone for those apps). Or there may be other options for ‘freezing’ apps from starting.

  • ericwilborn

    Even more proof. Perfect.

  • Danthes24

    i use mobo task killer, and it helped me a lot. but i want to know who is the best task killer that is currently available for droid phones..thx

  • Cata

    every single site said NOT to use task killers

    so i uninstalled AdvancedTaskKiller

    ~Galaxy SII user~

  • Roger

    I do use a task killer, but not to save battery life.
    I have a low end phone….LG Optimus V that has been rooted. The phone is pretty wimpy and sometimes when running apps (Netflix, others) it gets really sluggish. I use the task killer to kill processes so the video is smooth or to just speed up the phone.

    This does only work for a while and then it gets slow again. But, it’s enough of an increase to make it worthwhile for me.

    I suppose not having my email and other programs update so often would help too.