As I mentioned in my review of the HTC ThunderBolt, the ThunderBolt is a top-notch device that breaks through the speed barriers of the traditional smartphone. However, the ThunderBolt also has one big caveat: Battery life. This is a foible that many Android devices suffer from, particularly HTC devices. The HTC EVO and HTC Incredible are both excellent smartphones that struggle to get through an entire business day on a single charge.
For the ThunderBolt, the primary issue is when it's in 4G LTE mode. That's when it really screams -- in terms of speed -- but it's also when the battery can completely drain in as little as four hours with heavy use. In order to help ThunderBolt users get the most out of this otherwise useful device, I've put together some power tips for squeezing extra battery life out of the ThunderBolt. While these tips are aimed primarily at the ThunderBolt and reference HTC-specific widgets and settings, they can also be applied more generally to almost any Android device (and specifically other HTC devices), with just a few adjustments.
I should also note that when the ThunderBolt is not in 4G mode, its battery life is actually very respectable. Using the tips in this article, I was able to get through a full day of normal use with the HTC ThunderBolt on a combination of 3G and Wi-Fi and still had 70% of the battery left after 10 hours. On 4G, I was able to use these tips to stretch the ThunderBolt battery to almost eight hours.
There are several things you can do to reduce the display's hit on your battery. Go to Menu | Settings | Display and adjust the following settings:
To see which of your apps and widgets are doing stealth syncs in the background, go to Menu | Settings | Accounts & sync. I prefer to uncheck the "Auto-sync" box and simply disable background syncing altogether (especially when I'm trying to ring out every last drop of battery life). You can always compensate by using HTC's "Sync all" widget so that when you unlock your phone you can just tap the Sync all button and all of your data for all of your approved apps and widgets get synced (on 4G it will sync really fast anyway). If you want to take it a step further, in the Accounts & sync screen, uncheck the "Background data" box so that no apps are allowed to quietly transfer data in the background.
Alternatively, in the sync settings you can also grant just a few select apps the ability to sync and then set the frequency for syncing to a longer interval.
I always turn off Bluetooth and GPS, except when needed. If I know I'm going to be on the mobile network for an extended period of time then I turn off Wi-Fi so that the Wi-Fi radio isn't wasting power searching for connections. One of the things I did to save battery life when I was on the 4G LTE network was to use "Airplane mode" when I was in meetings or other long periods where I knew I wasn't going to be using the phone. This turns off all of the radios, including the cellular network.
I'd recommend using the simple and elegant "Slate" skin (below) on the HTC ThunderBolt. I'd also recommend avoiding the live wallpapers and selecting a static image. For battery savings, I'd also recommend turning off animations by going to Menu | Settings | Display | Animation and selecting "No animations."
To monitor and manage your apps and widgets you'll need to download a task manager like the popular Advanced Task Killer. This lets you see what you've currently got running (and what is quietly turning itself on without your permission). You can do this periodically and manually kill all of your open apps to avoid letting power-hogs drain your battery. Advanced Task Killer even comes with a handy widget that you can place on your home screen. Just tap it once and it kills all your apps, and gives you a short message telling you how many apps were killed.
Even better, open Advanced Task Killer and go into Menu | Setting and set the "Auto Kill" option. I'd recommend setting the Auto Kill Level to "Safe" and setting the Auto Kill Frequency to "Every half hour." If you're really paranoid and want to keep stuff under wraps, you can set the Auto Kill so that it wipes everything out every time you turn off your screen. Keep in mind that some people argue that killing processes on Android has dubious value, but I find that it's a good way of keeping potential battery hogs under control, even if it knocks out some harmless stuff in the process.
This article was originally published on TechRepublic.