Mar 29 AT 4:29 PM Taylor Wimberly 26 Comments

Blame your carrier for poor battery life on Android phones

Droid Charge battery 4G LTE

Android software updates remind us of the NBA draft lottery system. You think a handful of teams have a good shot at winning the 1st round draft pick, but the results often surprise you.

When you hear that devices being upgraded from Android 2.x to Android 4.0.x are receiving a 66% performance boost and longer battery life, you get excited. “Wow, my phone might last an extra hour!”

Android 4.0 offers longer battery life.

But then you realize you don’t own the HTC Vivid, and your device will have to wait. People with unlocked phones started seeing an upgrade to Android 4.0.4 this week, which is a good sign that things are moving forward. However, around 95% of you still own a device with an operating system that was first introduced in 2010.

Carriers will tell you they are testing Android 4.0 and upgrades will be coming soon, and they are. A good portion of you with devices purchased in 2011 should see an update.

Verizon just announced 14 devices that will be upgraded to Android 4.0, AT&T named another 10 devices they were supporting, T-Mobile has it coming soon to multiple devices, and Sprint could sell their first Android 4.0 device as soon as April 15th.

So the good news is a large chunk of devices will eventually see a free boost in performance and longer battery life. And if you get tired of waiting, you can always buy a new phone (or just hack your old device).

Can't comment on software updates; Buy a new phone.

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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  • Andy

    Interesting twist on story…I thought you were going to blame the poor reception is making your phone work harder, thus worse battery life.

    On another note, other than Nexus series, how come I still haven’t seen a manufacturer release a plain vanilla phone w/out their ugly “optimization” yet? I mean…just try and don’t judge/guess!

    • astria

      to set the record straight. many of the Android 1.x phones come without custom UI…

      T-Mobile G2 is one of the few minority in the last 2 years, which is a Senseless HTC Desire Z… i suppose there’s a few more…

    • aranea

      I was also thinking on poor reception when I read the title. ATT reception is very poor where I work. There are many pockets of no reception areas. When I walk from location to location my phone looses connection several times and each time it searches for signal it uses a lot of power. I can see a dramatic decrease in my power consumption in areas with good reception.

      • Jorge Branco

        I’m on Vodafone in Australia and if I’m right on the edge of reception i can see my battery drained fully in a couple of hours. I look in the about battery section and it says something like 60% cell standby

      • bolanrox

        hell poor reception killed just about every phone i have had battery. until we got some more local towers i couldn’t go to a few peoples houses with out my fully charged dumb phone going dead in a few hours if i forgot to turn if off

    • LukeT32

      Doesn’t explain my poor battery life on the Gnex.

      • Ben R

        The 4.0.4 radios have been around for a while and the reception is an order of magnitude better. I’ve been using the 4.0.4 OS and radios for six weeks and the difference it’s amazing. This is the stock VZW 4.0.4 BTW. Go get it. You won’t regret it.

    • Jon Garrett

      what’s ugly about touch wiz?

  • B2L

    Great article, more people need to start blaming their carriers and stop blaming Google.

  • iHateiPhone

    that tweet is fucked up…

  • Redraider133

    Except it isn’t all the carriers. If there were no skins google could handle the updates for every phone and not just the nexus line

    • Zorbthegeek

      Tell that line to owners of the G2x: Dual core, Vanilla Android, released last spring and EOLd months ago.Perfectly upgradable to ICS, but resigned to 2.3.

      I grow weary of ppl making excuses for Google, manufacturers and the carriers. The update process is broken, there are too many phones being rolled with out of date software.

      I am a Linux using Open Source loving dork, but will never buy another LG phone and this is prob my last Android device.

      • OnIn2

        Sadly, I bought my G2x because of those specs, KNOWING it would be an easy upgrade to ICS. DOH !

        I clicked on your “I like this post” 6000 times.

        The update process is broken. There’s no reason it has to be like this. the Android OS update system is broken.

        Hello Google. Is anyone listening ?

      • Ed

        So, if you love open source and Linux, what could possibly make you happier than a nexus device? iOS doesn’t stand a chance, and I haven’t seen much progress on the open-sourcedness of webos….

  • OOMatter

    66% boost?? I shudder to think how bad my GNex battery life would have been if it was running GB.

  • aranea

    Don’t forget the manufacturers too. They are equally at fault. If they don’t make the upgrade carriers can’t release it. And carriers shouldn’t make it hard for manufacturers to send the upgrade.

  • spazby

    the whole process is broken as it is. google needs to be proactive and set some guidelines for manufacturers and carriers that have to be followed otherwise they will lose tons of customers to hated apple

    • Joel

      You hit the nail on the head, if you’re gonna have so many carriers pushing your OS , you need a method to ensure uniformity – i know it sounds corny but the old saying is true: united we stand divided we fall.

  • WlfHart

    Of course, there’s always the bigger battery option… Sure efficiency is great and so are OS updates. But how about some real meaty batteries?

  • Max.Steel

    Google isn’t to blame for the broken update system because it is manufacturers that OWN the phone. They are responsible for updating their OWN phone. However, Google needs to step in and find a way to unify or simplify the update process so that people can have the latest OS within at least a month or two of release.

  • Ginny R

    poppycock! my rooted froyo original 2.2 stock rom droid x lasts dawn until midnight since Fall 2010.

  • Nathan D.

    Well at least most phone gets updated in most carriers and you can always root your phone to 4.0.x if you want the latest update.

  • Dave

    i am simply using higher power previously mentioned MEATY extended batteries:
    for example for my google nexus s i use 3900mAh [HLI-NexusSXL] Mugen Power battery and i recharge my phone twice a week despite using it pretty extensively, yes 3-4 days from one charge!!!!
    I just do not understand why manufacturers do not consider this issue, i dont want slim phone, i want it operational;)

  • Nic Thomas

    Galaxy Note
    I don’t know why would u release a new device without the latest OS. I can tell from ICS keyboard that it’s way better! That’s BS when they say they gotta make it compatible with the carriers. The OS works the same if its the same version! I think its ridiculous to buy a phone that just came out valued at about $800 and it has an older cousin who has a superior OS. And..since probably would have to wait last for an update, because a 2012 phone.

  • Nic Thomas

    What’s up with those custom OS u can DL? Are they safe? I know my bro had got one for a “HD 2″ i think it was, and switched it from a windows to a droid. And could switch back and forth! Are those customs legal?

  • santosh raman mishra

    my samsung galaxy should be upgrading to ics 4.0 , google do some thing about it, i am waiting