Digital Crave

These apps are killing your smartphone battery

Marc Saltzman
Digital Crave

apps drain battery phone android

Perhaps you’ve heard of “vampire power” – your home’s plugged-in gadgets that still “suck” electricity even though they’re turned off – but the problem is also found on your favorite smartphone.

What causes your phone’s power to wane by mid-afternoon? There are a few contributing factors -- such as a super bright screen, excessive heat (keep it out of the sun) and too many wireless radios enabled when you don’t need them all on (such as GPS) – but often the main culprits are apps and ads that run in the background and push information to your device.

In fact, a new report finds popular apps like Microsoft’s Outlook and King’s Candy Crush Saga are among the “Top 10 Vampire Apps” that drain your Android smartphone. The published list was commissioned by KS Mobile, the makers of the free Clean Master utility app for Android devices.

In countdown fashion, the following are the top culprits, says KS Mobile, from number 10 down to the no. 1 worst offender.

10. Candy Crush Saga (King, Ltd.)
9. Fruit Ninja (Half Brick Studios)
8. Racing Moto (Top Casual Games)
7. imo free video calls and text (imo.im)
6. Temple Run 2 (Imangi Studios)
5. Zello PTT Walkie-Talkie (Zello Inc.)
4. Viki: Free TV, Movies & News (Viki, Inc.)
3. EZ Weather Forecast & Widget (EZMobs)
2. Outlook.com (Microsoft + SEVEN)
1. Camera360 Ultimate (PinGuo Inc.)

apps drain smartphone battery android

Obviously, KS Mobile didn’t test out all 1.1 million or so apps at the Google Play store, on all known Android devices, in all conditions, but the company says this list was ranked “based on the highest average frequency that apps trigger a warning to smartphone users about their own battery consumption levels.”

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In case you missed our previous Digital Crave post with tips to extending your smartphone’s battery, the following is a look at a handful of suggestions:

If you're finding your smartphone is petering out before you're ready to, aside from keeping a spare battery with you, consider some of these following tips to squeeze more battery life between charges.

Dim the screen

Turn down the brightness of your smartphone screen a good deal as it will help preserve battery life. This can be found in the Options or Settings menu. You'll get used to the dimmer screen after a short while. On a related note, also set your screen to turn off after a few seconds of inactivity – and not a few minutes.

Turn off radios you don’t use

Unless you need them, turn off as many of your phone's wireless radios as you can, as it can also drain your battery. This includes GPS, Bluetooth, NFC and Wi-Fi. Or, in a pinch, turn off all radios, including cellular connectivity, by selecting the "airplane mode" – such as when you board a plane.

Turn off push notifications

If you can, turn off "push" services or reduce the frequency in which you ask your smartphone to receive new information -- such as incoming email messages -- as it needs to "ping" a server to send you the updated data each time. Instead, choose to pull down messages when you need to. On a related note, reduce the use of location-based services, such as Google Maps or Find My Friends, as these applications actively use wireless radios to establish the phone's geographical whereabouts.

Wi-Fi better than cellular

If you'd like to access online content, use Wi-Fi instead of cellular connectivity, if possible. This will require you to join a wireless network at home or at the office, or when you're in a public hotspot, such as a café, hotel lobby or airport lounge. Wi-Fi has been proven to be less taxing on your battery than using 3G/4G service.

Be cautious of the apps you download

As this article shows, some apps are better than others at power management. Do your homework by reading the app comments before you download or seeking out reports like the one above. Some apps constantly ping a server to give you up-to-date info – like a Facebook message or sports score – plus many apps have embedded dynamic advertisements that can eat up battery life.

Remember to lock it

Always lock your smartphone when you aren't using it as you'll still be able to receive calls and texts, but you aren't accidentally turning on the phone when it's in your pocket or purse (because you hit a button or screen). After all, there's nothing more embarrassing than calling someone by accident -- especially when it's 2am.

Application matters

The battery will drain faster if you're using the phone for tasks that are more demanding on the system's resources -- such as watching video or playing multiplayer games -- than less taxing tasks, such as typing notes or reading an electronic book. Multitasking, such as listening to music while surfing the web, can also contribute to faster battery drain.

Make sure the app is closed

Be sure to properly close apps when you're not using it as they still might be running in the background and thus, using up power (and possibly data). With iPhone, for example, double-tap the Home button and you’ll see open apps you can close. Similarly, with Android, press and hold the Home button and flick apps to close them.

Room temperature is best

If you can help it, don't keep your phone in hot or cold temperatures, such as leaving it on your car's dashboard on a sweltering summer day or frigid winter night – as both could prematurely drain your battery. Ideally, smartphones work best from, say, 32 degrees to 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

Software updates

Be sure you download the latest software updates (sometimes referred to as "firmware") as smartphone engineers are always trying out new ways to improve power management. This can be performed when the smartphone is attached to a computer via USB cable or over a Wi-Fi connection. Many Android phones also have a “Power Saver” mode, so take advantage of that.

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