Phone's battery drain is draining my patience
March 8, 2012 8:04 AM   Subscribe

Phone's battery drain is draining my patience, after hours of research, two batteries, and several phone calls with T-Mobile. How do I fix this?

I have a few-months old HTC MyTouch Slide 4G (T-Mobile), and am on battery #2. Battery #1 started dying after only a handful of hours less than two months ago and they sent me another. Now this one is doing the same (after an initial period of longer battery time). Battery dead within 6 hours or so (and this is with little to no phone use and a little bit of internet usage). I have wi-fi, GPS, etc OFF. Screen dimmed. I have a handful of apps, no games, no music. T-Mobile originally told me to get a task manager, then told me to take that off and get an app called Juice Defender. Neither have helped. Internet searches haven't turned up much (other than that this phone's battery isn't so great in general, and stuff I'm already doing), and calls to T-Mobile haven't either. My brother has the same phone and says he gets a day out of each charge, so that gives me some info. But I'm not sure how to find out if there's something else running in the background that's draining the battery since the task manager and Juice Defender haven't helped and I've done all I know to do otherwise. Lil help here? Anyone know what the next step is?
posted by FlyByDay to Technology (13 answers total)
Are you in an area with spotty data coverage? I've found that 4G phones don't handle switching between 4G/3G/Edge/No Data terribly gracefully. Once I took my 4G phone with my while skiing (no coverage at all on the peak) and it drained a full battery in a couple of hours. Compare that to a pretty much guaranteed 24+ hours with heavy usage when in consistent 4G/3G areas.
posted by SpiffyRob at 8:16 AM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

When my EVO 4G was out of warranty, the charging port began to get sloppy and unreliable. MY solution to that problem could also be your solution. Buy a cheap desktop charger and a couple spare (i went aftermarket, but that's because I'm cheap) batteries to swap in and out as the need arised. That way you can always havew 1 or 2 fully charged batteries on hand for less than 12-15 bucks total investment.
posted by buggzzee23 at 8:19 AM on March 8, 2012

It's likely not the applications; it's likely the phone. There are a bunch of articles that drone on about how task killers don't actually save any battery. Google even has stated this from time to time. Here's a Lifehacker article that explains why they don't really do anything.

This phone should last for a few days, especially with Wi-Fi, GPS off and screen dimmed. The other antenna that tends to really kill batteries is Bluetooth. I have the HTC Thunderbolt 4G on Verizon and the Bluetooth antenna will take out my phone in under 1 day with the extended battery. I would turn off the Bluetooth antenna and give it one more try. If this doesn't work, I would be calling T-Mobile's support daily until I got a new phone for free under warranty. Emphasize that you are getting less than 6 hours uptime and virtually zero talk time. Read the spec sheet to them about how many days/hours the phone should last, and that your phone isn't meeting spec. If the tech support agent can't authorize replacement, ask for a manager/supervisor. Very importantly: stay calm but firm, always be friendly and keep your language clean. Stick to the fact that this is your nth call in to support and your time is being wasted, and the phone doesn't meet advertised specs.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 8:20 AM on March 8, 2012

Just a few ideas... Have you checked to make sure your Juice Defender settings are set appropriately? I had a similar problem with my battery, and JD cleared it right up. But, sometimes I need to double check the settings, as they will change for some reason. Or, sometimes I realize that I have a program running in the background that I forgot about (like a game) that is sucking some of the life out of the battery. If those are not the case, I would consider that perhaps you got two bad batteries.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:20 AM on March 8, 2012

What's your battery charging pattern look like? Do you leave the phone plugged in all the time, or do you let the battery run down to less than half before plugging it in? I've blown a whole lot of LiIon batteries before I figured out that topping them off is bad.

I've got the same phone, haven't mucked with settings much at all (Bluetooth is off, but everything else, including WiFi, is on), and I often get to the end of the day with charge left. I'd suspect how you're treating the battery.
posted by straw at 8:23 AM on March 8, 2012

(Clarification: By "often get to th3e end of the day with charge left", I mean "if I don't use the phone, I can go two days between charges")
posted by straw at 8:29 AM on March 8, 2012

Current 4G / LTE phones are notoriously power hungry. Have you tried turning off LTE data altogether?

Part of the problem (supposedly) is that the 4G networks aren't capable of carrying phone calls at the moment, so the phone has to maintain both a 3G (or CDMA) and an LTE data connection in order to be able to access high speed data and make and receive calls.
posted by pharm at 8:32 AM on March 8, 2012

Part of the problem (the whole problem) is that it's a terrible phone running an old version of Android. 6 hours, unfortunately, sounds about right if you're in/moving between low coverage areas, even if it's only 3G.

Best thing you can do is start saving up for a better phone.
posted by Patbon at 8:35 AM on March 8, 2012

Clarification on the above: If you are in an excellent coverage area the whole time, disregard what I said. I still suggest a better phone is the best solution, but the battery should last at least 10 hours if you have great coverage and minimal usage.
posted by Patbon at 8:38 AM on March 8, 2012

If it's working properly, JuiceDefender should make network switching/connectivity a non-issue by turning off mobile data completely while the phone is inactive. You should confirm that it's actually doing that, but as long as it is, and you're not waking it up frequently (which forces it to reconnect to the network every time and thus drains the battery), that probably isn't the source of your problem.

(Also, a Thunderbolt that can go two days without charges? Even with the extended battery, that boggles my mind.)
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:42 AM on March 8, 2012

wow, so much info

-coverage map shows "4G good" coverage, though I am right on the shore (had to switch from Verizon as there was NO coverage here with them)

-@Patbon, what would you recommend phone-wise?

-I don't know what the correct JD settings are or if I need to buy the upgraded version. I've had it on default; just switched to aggressive.

-I usually let the battery run down during the day and charge at night, though if I'm in the car, it's plugged in

-bluetooth is off

posted by FlyByDay at 8:58 AM on March 8, 2012

FYI, this is T-Mobile 4G (HSPA+), which isn't the same as LTE. It's basically just 3G+ and shouldn't be causing that much drain.
posted by Oktober at 9:01 AM on March 8, 2012

Given that I have this phone and adore it and think its battery life is awesome relative to the old iPhone 3G I used to have, and that it sounds like your battery life starts out okay and then dies after a month or three, I'm going to suspect the "if I'm in the car, it's plugged in".

I'd make a conscious effort to not plug the phone in unless the battery is at least half-discharged. I suspect that you'll see your battery lifecycle time increase to closer to 18 months.
posted by straw at 9:18 AM on March 8, 2012

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