Don’t waste your time on Android battery saver apps, instead do this

There's a huge gulf between the claims made and what they deliver.

Bad battery life isn't something that just plagues iPhone users. Android users also wish that they could get more hours out of each charge of their smartphone.

And the Android developers have responded by building apps that promise to deliver improved battery life.

But are they any good? 

I know when I last tested them a few years ago, I found them quite useful. But a lot of things have changed in that time.

Over the past few weeks, I've been downloading and testing over a dozen of the most popular "battery saver" in the Google Play Store. I was especially curious to see how much difference these apps made when my test handsets were down to the last 20 percent battery life (which is when most start to worry about battery life and want to squeeze out as much runtime as possible).

I was disappointed. And the problems are many.

Must read: The best Android apps for power users in 2021: Track data usage, test connections, and more

The first problem is how many apps there are. It's clearly a space that a lot of developers want in on. Not a problem for me, but overwhelming for users casually looking for an app.

Then there's the issue that most apps either want a rooted Android handset or require users to enter ADB (Android Debug Bridge) commands to elevate privileges to gain access to more advanced features.

While none of the apps I tested displayed nefarious tendencies, elevating privileges is a risky practice to encourage users to do, and it's also a task that's beyond many users.

For the sake of testing, I elevated the privileges for apps that requested it. Without this, the apps I tested did little to nothing. Sure, the user interfaces were full of promise, but they delivered little.

With elevated permissions, the battery saver apps tweaked Android's own Doze Mode and App Standby modes, making these built-in features more aggressive. While this did indeed have a positive impact on (more on that shortly), it also had a negative effect on performance. I noticed lags, performance issues, and crashes, which I attribute to these apps pushing settings beyond what was deemed acceptable.

If you have a handset running a recent version of Android, my suggestion is that you stick with the built-in Doze Mode and App Standby features. These do a good job of balancing battery life, performance, and stability. 

Also, Android's Battery Saver feature, which is similar to the Low Power Mode on the iPhone, offers a great way to stretch out battery life when needs must.

Leave the Android battery management to Android.

To help you get more smartphone runtime, Google also offers advice on how to make a smartphone's battery last for as long as possible:

  • Turn on Battery Saver mode
  • Don't do things that keep the screen on for extended periods
  • Avoid constant Wi-Fi/cellular/GPS/hotspot/Bluetooth connections
  • Avoid processor-intensive applications (games and camera apps)

Follow the above advice, carry a power bank, and save yourself time and hassle and don't bother with the battery-saver apps.