Over the past few weeks, I have downloaded and tested over 12 most popular “battery savers” from the Google Play Store. I was particularly curious to see how much of a difference these apps made when the battery life of our test handsets dropped to the last 20% (when most people start to worry about battery life and want to squeeze as much runtime as possible). Disappointed. And there are many problems. The first question is how many apps are there. It’s definitely a space that many developers want. Not a problem for me, but overwhelming for casual users of the app.
Then the problem is that most apps either want a rooted Android handset or require the user to enter Android Debug Bridge (ADB) commands to elevate their privileges to access advanced features. None of the apps I’ve tested showed any nefarious tendencies, but elevation of privilege is a risky practice I encourage users to do, and a task beyond many users. Elevated the requested app’s permissions for testing. Without it, the apps I tested did almost nothing. The user interface, of course, was full of promises, but offered very little.
With the elevation of privilege, the Battery Saver app adjusted Android’s own Doze and App Standby modes to make these built-in features more aggressive. This actually had a positive impact (more on that in a moment), but it also had a negative impact on performance. I’ve noticed lags, performance issues, and crashes, which I believe are due to these apps pushing their settings beyond acceptable levels.
- Turn on sleep mode
- Avoid leaving the screen on for extended periods of time.
- Avoid persistent Wi-Fi/Cellular/GPS/Hotspot/Bluetooth connections
- Avoid processor-intensive applications (games and camera apps)