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8 Apps to improve your Android smartphone or tablet's battery life (Slideshow)

If you agree with me that little is as miserable as having your Android smartphone or tablet die of premature battery exhaustion, then you'll want to check these applications out.
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1 of 9 Steven Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNet

Maxing Android Battery Life

This Motorola Droid 4 has a great keyboard and it runs Android 4.1.2, a version of Jelly Bean. I like this phone. I love this keyboard. And, while Android 4.1.2 isn't Android 4.3,  it's none too shabby. So what's wrong with this picture?

Notice something about the screen? It's off. And, why is it off? It's off because the battery has run out of juice AGAIN!

Ahem.

Of course, all battery powered devices do this and, as 4G LTE phones go, my Droid 4, with its 8 hours of active use time, isn't bad at all.

But, I want more. I want the maximum possible battery life for my smartphone and my 2012 Nexus 7 and 2013 Nexus 7. Of course, the first thing I did was to use all the various tricks to maximize my Android devices' battery life.

That helped, but I wanted more. If you're like me and only the best battery life will do you need to check out these applications. They'll help you to make the most of your Android smartphone and tablet's batteries.

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2 of 9 Steven Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNet

Wakelock Detector

Wakelock Detector

What the heck is a Wakelock? It's the feature Android lets apps use to wake it from deep sleep mode. Wakelocks can keep your CPU awake, they can turn on your screen, and they can make sure your screen doesn't go off. That can be very handy. They can also help kill your battery.

UzumApps' Wakelock Detector is a handy program for seeing which programs have been using wakelocks. It gives you detailed system information that's essential for hard-core battery life analysis. It's not for casual users.

I like this program a lot but to really use it effectively you need to be an Android power user or developer. If that's you, you'll like this free program a lot.

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3 of 9 Steven Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNet

Battery Doctor

Battery Doctor

KS Mobile's Battery Doctor is a really easy to use and helpful battery analyzer tool that doesn't require a degree in electrical engineering or computer science to be useful. What I particularly like about it is that it gives tips on what apps and components to turn off to get the most from your battery. Its battery charging utility is also very handy.

While I've found its battery life estimates to be a little optimistic, I can forget it that for its helpfulness, simple interface, and price: Free.

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4 of 9 Steven Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNet

Tasker

Tasker

Crafty Apps EU's Tasker is more than just a battery program. It gives you excellent, detailed granular control. With Tasker you can automate what components and programs wake off and turn off by both time and location. So, for example, if I'm out at night, but I'm not at home, I can set it so that the phone is more "awake" then if I were home in bed.

Tasker also enables me to set my phone on how I want it to handle phone calls, media-play, texting, and other day-in, day-out processes. It's not hard to use, but it does require attention to get the most from it. Still for $2.99, if you're willing to put in the time to get it to work just right for you, you'll get a lot from this handy little program.

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5 of 9 Steven Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNet

JuiceDefender

JuiceDefender

LateDroid's JuiceDefender may have the silliest name of all these apps, but there's nothing silly about how it helps you save battery life. This is a very straightforward program with a simple interface. Whether you use its preset modes or you elect to tweak every setting to get the most from the program it's a simple way to save battery life.

JuiceDefender comes in three versions: Free; Plus, $1.99; and Ultimate, $4.99. The more you pay,  the more control you get. I recommend starting with the free version and if you feel the need to tune your device for the greatest battery life you can always upgrade.

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6 of 9 Steven Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNet

GO Battery Saver

GO Battery Saver & Power Widget

GO Battery Saver is another do-it-all battery program that's easy to use. What I especially like about it is that it makes it easy to spot what apps are hogging the power.

Like JuiceDefender it comes in both a free version and $4.99 version which gives you more personalized control over your device's power use.

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7 of 9 Steven Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNet

Battery Defender

Battery Defender

InfoLife's Battery Defender is another excellent free, battery saving program. I confess one its features I like the most is actually the simplest: It shows your battery life percentage on the notification bar. OK, it's not exciting, but I like knowing exactly how much juice I have left in my battery tank. 

The price is also right: Free. 

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8 of 9 Steven Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNet

Battery Drain Analyzer

Battery Drain Analyzer

That's it for the easy programs. Sun Light's Battery Drain Analyzer has a simple profile manager, but what it's really about is looking under the hood of your device to analyze your app and power usage.

While a power-user app, it does give you an excellent and realistic battery life estimate. Unlike other programs, Battery Drain Analyzer works hard on analyzing not just what your apps and components are doing at any given moment, but how you usually use your device. It gives the best estimate I've seen from any app on how much time you really have before your device shuts itself down.

The basic version is free, while Battery Drain Analyzer Pro costs $2.19. I have to say I see little reason to upgrade to Pro. All it does is  add some eye-candy to a perfectly functional app.  

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9 of 9 Steven Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNet

ES Task Manager (Task Killer)

ES Task Manager (Task Killer)

The well-known ES Task Manager isn't a battery program per se. It's a Swiss-army knife of an app that lets you do many things. One of these is that it lets you kill power-piggy tasks. Used correctly, say with the information you've gathered from Battery Drain Analyzer and Wakelock Detector, this can turn your power-guzzling gadget into a model of battery economy. Or, you can foul up your device beyond recognition.

If you're going to use it to help with your battery life, you'll need to use it task killing functionality carefully, but there are times you'll be glad to have the power to kill off misbehaving apps that are trying to drain your battery dry in front of your very eyes.

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