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I changed 10 settings on my Android phone to drastically improve battery life

There are countless ways to improve the battery life on your Android, but I've sifted through them all to highlight the 10 most effective - plus an obvious bonus.
Written by Max Buondonno, Contributing Writer
OnePlus 12
Kerry Wan/ZDNET

I've spent much of my life figuring out new ways to save battery life on Android phones. That estimate might sound like an exaggeration, but growing up with access to nothing but poorly made Android devices means I've always tinkered with their settings to figure out the best ways to maximize charge and push my phone's battery life to the limit.

Also: 5 things Android needs to fix to become a worthier iOS rival in 2024

So when I started writing this guide on the settings you should use to save battery life, it all came naturally to me. These settings are the most effective, easiest, and quickest ways to save battery life regardless of the Android phone you're rocking, whether the latest device from Samsung, a fancy Google Pixel, or a cutting-edge OnePlus device. Plus, you won't have to sacrifice the high-quality experience of using your phone.

Note: While all these settings are available on practically any Android phone you can buy, the process for adjusting them can vary between devices. Keep this in mind when following the steps I lay out because the approach might be slightly different depending on which phone you're using.

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1. Turn off the always-on display

One of the biggest battery drainers for any smartphone is the always-on display. Companies will regularly tell you that this display setting only drains about 1% to 2% an hour, but let's be honest -- it's always way more. It may be nice to glance at your phone while it sits on a table to check the time, but it's probably not worth sacrificing your battery life.

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How to: Open the Settings app and locate the Lock Screen portion of the app, whether it's in the main list of settings or under "Display." From there, you'll find the option to "always show info" or a simple toggle to enable the Always On Display. Either way, turn the option off and check to make sure your screen goes completely blank when you lock it.

2. Enable Adaptive Battery

There's a handy feature built into Android called Adaptive Battery, and it's available on most devices. Adaptive Battery can automatically manage the performance and efficiency of your phone in the background using special processes to extend your battery life. For example, when you don't need maximum performance for something simple like scrolling through your inbox, the setting will throttle things down and save you some juice.

How to: Go to Settings > Battery > Adaptive preferences and check to ensure "Adaptive battery" is enabled. If it's not, flick it on.

3. Switch to dark mode

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE in hand
Kerry Wan/ZDNET

Over the past few years, many mid-range and budget Android phones have followed in the footsteps of their flagship brethren in adopting OLED displays. The technology allows individual pixels to dim or completely shut off on their own when not in use, which is far more beneficial for battery life than traditional LCD screens with one big backlight. By switching to your phone's dark theme, those pixels will be dimmer far more often and, in turn, save some juice.

Also: How to clear the cache on your Android phone or tablet (and why you should)

How to: Go to Settings > Display on your Android phone. There, you'll find the option to switch between a light and dark theme, and an option to have dark mode turn on automatically at a certain time of day. To maximize battery life, I recommend keeping dark mode turned on all the time.

4. Adjust your display brightness and sleep time

It's common knowledge that cranking down your display's brightness can help save battery usage, but it's worth repeating. With modern phones, you have plenty of brightness and it's often unnecessary to turn the setting high to scroll Instagram or check your email. Also, it's important to shorten the time it takes for your phone to go to sleep. Users often set the sleep time to a minute or more, which can drain your battery when you aren't using your phone, and set it down on a table without locking it. Make these two adjustments and you'll be on the path to better battery life.

How to: Swipe down once or twice from the top of your phone's display to visit the quick settings menu. You'll see a slider with a picture of a sun or other source of light next to it. Drag the slider to the left to decrease your brightness. To reduce the time it takes for your phone to sleep, go to Settings > Display and change "Screen timeout" to anything below a minute.

5. Remove unused accounts

Samsung Galaxy A35 5G home screen on a wooden bench.
Max Buondonno/ZDNET

We've all done this at some point in our lives: you set up a new account for a social media app or email service, which you forget about, and then you create another account that becomes your primary account for that service or platform. I've gone through this process numerous times. If you set up accounts on your phone, all the old accounts remain, constantly refreshing and draining your battery life in the background. If you think you may have some old accounts worth removing from your phone, you should take action sooner rather than later.

Also: How to clear the cache on your Android phone or tablet (and why you should)

How to: Go to the Settings app and find the accounts section (on Samsung phones it's called "Accounts and backup", while Pixel phones use "Passwords & accounts"). You'll find a list of all the accounts synced to your phone. Tap on one of them and scroll down to the "Remove account" button. Tap it and the account will disappear.

6. Turn off keyboard sounds and haptics

If you're using your phone, chances are you're typing on the keyboard pretty often, whether to post to social media or respond to your friend's messages. If you have sound and haptic feedback enabled, your battery may suffer because your phone needs to make a series of vibrations and noises every time you tap a letter. Hearing and feeling the keyboard as you type is a nice experience, but it's not ideal if you want to eke out some extra juice from a full charge.

How to: Open the Settings app and locate "Language and input." This section is where your keyboard settings live. Find the section where you get to choose your default keyboard, then tap the gear icon next to it to manage settings. If you're a Gboard user (like most people), you'll then go to Preferences > Key press and disable "Sound on keypress" and "Haptic feedback on keypress."

7. Reduce your notifications

Samsung Galaxy A35 5G notification pane.
Max Buondonno/ZDNET

You might not realize it, but notifications can be one of the biggest drainers of your phone's battery life if you get lots of them. Not only is your phone buzzing and dinging all day, but the apps themselves are constantly refreshing in the background, looking for new notifications to send your way. Most apps have ways of limiting the amount of notifications you get, but the easiest way to turn them off is through your phone's Settings app.

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How to: Go to Settings > Notifications > "App notifications" to see a list of all the apps installed on your phone. There are toggles next to each of them that, when flipped, will disable all notifications for that particular app.

8. Turn off "Hey Google" detection

If your phone is constantly listening for you to say "Hey Google," chances are your battery is draining away. Your microphone is active, waiting to hear you say those two magic words that trigger the Google Assistant, and it takes a fair amount of energy to run that process all day. Disabling the feature is a no-brainer for anyone who doesn't use the Assistant daily. And let's be honest, how many of us use the assistant daily?

How to: Open the Google app on your phone and tap your profile picture in the top-right corner. Then, visit Settings > Google Assistant > Hey Google & Voice Match and flick off "Hey Google." Now your phone will only trigger the Assistant if you hold down the power button or via another method.

9. Reduce your screen's refresh rate

There's no question that phone screens have gotten really good over the past few years, thanks in part to the faster refresh rates manufacturers have been including. Whether it's 90Hz, 120Hz, or even faster, increasing the times a screen refreshes helps make animations, scrolling social media, and everyday interactions feel smoother and more responsive. Unfortunately, a high refresh rate also means increased battery usage -- you might sometimes be better turning the feature off.

Also: Change this Android setting to instantly double your phone speed

How to: Open the Settings app and navigate to the Display section. Here, you'll find the settings to configure your refresh rate. Most smartphones call the feature something different; Google labels it "Smooth Display" while Samsung calls it "Motion smoothness." Find the setting associated with the refresh rate and revert to the standard rate. Your screen will likely seem a bit choppier as a result, but that's completely normal. It simply means it's operating at 60Hz, which every phone used to run at just a few years ago.

10. Turn off the wireless features you aren't using

Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus
Kerry Wan/ZDNET

I've never been a proponent of turning off wireless features, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or location services, to save a phone's battery life. So many apps and services rely on those connections that your Android experience can diminish quickly. If, however, you don't use anything that needs Bluetooth or don't use your phone for GPS, it might be worth disabling some of these features to extend your battery life.

How to: On basically every Android phone ever made, you can swipe down once or twice from the top to access quick settings, where you'll find icons for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, location, airplane mode, and more. Touch them once to turn them off, and touch them again to turn them back on. You can also control all these settings through the Settings app, although quick settings is the easiest way to access them.

Bonus: Use low-power mode

I didn't include this feature in the primary list because, well, it's an obvious one. The low-power mode built into your phone will vary by device, but the general premise remains the same: the mode will disable some features in the background, limit how often apps are refreshed, lower your screen brightness, reduce the refresh rate, and more to save battery life in a pinch.

How to: There are several ways to enable low-power mode on your Android phone, but the most common is swiping down twice from the top of your screen to get to quick settings, and then tapping the battery shortcut. The shortcut should look like a battery with a plus sign or something similar. You'll then get notified that low-power mode (or whatever it's called on your phone) has been enabled. You can follow the same steps to disable this mode.

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