Tips and tricks to extending the HTC EVO 4G and Incredible's battery life (and what this says about Android)

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MG and I came at our EVO 4G reviews from different backgrounds. Even though I’m married to a  BlackBerry with a little Droid action on the side and he’s a self-proclaimed iPhone fanboy, we both came to the same conclusion: the battery life on the EVO 4G sucks. Sorry, it does. But that’s the state of high-powered Android phones at the moment. Both the EVO 4G and Incredible are in the same boat. The 1GHz Snapdragon CPU makes the phones a joy to use, but drains the battery in no time. It’s not entirely the snappy dragon’s fault either. Android users have been putting up with these type of shenanigans since the G1 debuted in late 2008. It’s really sad that the battery life issue still exists and users have to work around it just to use the latest and greatest hardware.

I read every single comment on my EVO 4G review with the hope that I was wrong about the phone’s battery issue and was simply doing something wrong. But none of the suggestions significantly improved my EVO 4G’s battery life. However, by doing a bunch of little things, I extended it’s idle life from about 12 hours to 14:30 — this is the phone’s battery life with everything turned off besides 3G and it just sits. All the tweaks are easy to do, but you’re going to have to forgo some of the more fun things about Android. It’s a shame, really, that a user has to give up fun widgets, advance wireless connections, and auto setting just to squeeze a few more hours from their phone.

Phone settings

  • Get rid of the large HTC widgets like bookmarks and FriendStream
  • Turn off widget animation
  • Use a static background rather than a live background
  • Turn off auto brightness, set screen backlight at 10%
  • Decrease screen timeout from 1min to 15 seconds
  • Keep WiFi, GPS, 4G off until it’s needed

Apps

Advanced Task Killer

  • Flame me in the comments if you want, but ATK should be installed. Without it, there’s no way to kill the Sprint apps the randomly launch and drain the battery. All of a sudden on the EVO 4G, Sprint Navigation, Sprint TV, or Nascar Sprint App will run. But it’s just not those apps that need ATK. There’s no way to kill the camera without a task killer like ATK. Yes, Android is based on Linux and  manages apps efficiently blah, blah, blah, but I’ve found that ATK does improve battery life when managed properly.

SetCPU

  • This app allows users to tweak the CPU in various ways. Either you can overclock the chip, and kill the battery faster, or set the CPU to downclock when the phone’s idle. The only problem is that the phone has to be rooted.

Light tweaking

Switch the default from GSM to CDMA

I’m not entirely sure about this tweak. It seemed to work for me but a few of my buddies didn’t notice any difference. Apparently Android tells the phone to look for a GSM signal by default even though there isn’t a GSM radio in the phone and so you can save a few cycles by selecting CDMA only — or something like that. Give it a go. It’s easy to do and switch back if you notice any detrimental side effects.

Use caution with 3rd party batteries

We’ve covered this before but it’s worth noting again. Some 3rd party and even “official” batteries aren’t exactly living up to their claims. Where OEM batteries constantly live up to their mAh ratings, many from other vendors fall short. Use caution, or better yet, wait until a few members of your favorite forum sites report back positive results.

Please, use the comments section for your own proven Android tips and tricks. Let’s keep the flames well-tended and the comments considerate.

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