Android (Nexus 5) battery questions / issues... ?
January 4, 2014 7:23 AM   Subscribe

I'm running the latest version of Android on a Nexus 5. I have location services enabled. The battery sucks and I'm trying to understand what exactly is going on.

I wake up with a full charge at 730 am. The phone is usually near dead by 1pm, even though I make a max of one short call, send maybe 10 texts and take 3 or 4 photos. I play no games, watch no movies, listen to no music from the cloud and sometimes listen to 30 minutes of a podcast which was downloaded to the phone while I slept.

My phone can lose 20% battery power in an hour without me actually doing anything with it (ie, it's in my pocket).

This morning I unplugged it from an overnight charge and went and brushed my teeth and when I was done checked the weather. The phone was down 14 percent in that time.

Whenever I go into the Battery Settings to check things, invariably Instagram has taken a quarter of the power, even though I haven't used the app that day and that I have only 50 followers (who rarely like) and no one that I'm following.

Next the Android System takes 13 to 15%. Screen takes 8% and is on Auto Brightness.

However, the baffling thing to me is it will say things like 10h 4m 56s on Battery. This is what it will say mere minutes after I do an overnight charge. Isn't that stat supposed to reset every time I plug the phone in to charge so that I can get a useful idea of how long the battery is actually lasting? What good is that number if it never really resets?

I have tried Juice Defender and Agent and neither makes a noticeable difference.

posted by dobbs to Technology (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I power off my phone overnight, then in the morning when i turn it back on, the "on battery" is correct. I typically charge it for a bit at work, which i don't think resets the "on battery" time.

I don't use instagram, but check its settings incase its polling for pictures or something frequently.

Also check settings -> location, and see whats been activating the gps. Maybe you can disable usage of that in the apps that are using it.

I have a nexus 4, but after kitkat and the new bluetooth stack, it seems bluetooth is draining more of my battery. I disable it if i'm not using it.

If you have your phone somewhere without a cell signal its going to drain the battery polling continuously for a network. Put it in airplane mode.

Somebody i know had battery problems on their nexus 5, but disabled something for a while, and then restarted it and it wasnt draining anymore. I'll ask around if i remember who told me about it.
posted by TheAdamist at 7:35 AM on January 4, 2014

What apps are you running?
posted by k8t at 7:43 AM on January 4, 2014

Friend says on his nexus 5 he swapped settings->location mode from high accuracy to battery saving for several days/reboots and then after setting it back to high accuracy he didnt have a problem anymore.
posted by TheAdamist at 7:46 AM on January 4, 2014

I read on Reddit that supposedly the phone's battery improves after a few days due to the software optimising for your usage patterns. How long have you had the phone?

If you plan on rooting, maybe consider installing Greenify (full disclosure I haven't done this myself but I would think it might address the Instagram issue, and many people consider Greenify to be the most essential root app.)

Alternatively, consider uninstalling Instagram as an experiment.

Just as a data point though, I also have a nexus 5. My biggest use of battery is the screen (27%), followed by chrome (low teens).

If all else ends up failing I suppose you could always RMA.

Edit: I also can confirm that the phone looking for cell service in an area without coverage is a big battery suck.
posted by prunes at 7:54 AM on January 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

If a non-system app is the #1 battery drainer, chances are that's the issue. On most people's phones the screen is going to be #1 drain. Try uninstalling Instagram and see if that makes a difference.
posted by selfnoise at 8:08 AM on January 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Thanks. I'll try some of these suggestions.

Does anyone know how to reset the "on battery" clock? I tried charging fully and rebooting and it still says 15+ hours.
posted by dobbs at 8:39 AM on January 4, 2014

I wouldn't pay too much attention to what the battery usage stats are showing you. My phone apparently uses 3-5% on wifi, yet leaving the wifi turned on overnight will kill the battery before morning. Even with no apps running, that's woefully inaccurate.

The first thing I'd do is charge the battery up completely then set the phone into airplane mode. Doing this will kill things like bluetooth, wifi, GPS, the internet connection, etc. It will also cut the connection to the cell tower, so you won't get any texts or calls. Do this overnight, and see what the battery says in the morning. You'll find out this way if it's something using some kind of internet connection that is draining the battery.

Then, I'd consider killing GPS. I have a feeling that if you're inside a building, or some other place you don't have a clear view of the sky, the GPS thingy will use up more battery trying to make a connection it can't actually make. If you don't need this service on, disable it. Even if it's not using up a huge amount of battery, it's still using some.

Next, I'd check to see what is actually running, in Applications. Kill everything but the bare essentials, like the launcher, your SMS app, etc. Then see how long the battery lasts.

Regarding the battery stats, rebooting the phone into Recovery mode might give you the option to wipe them. Looks like this is how you do it.
posted by Solomon at 8:42 AM on January 4, 2014

Looks like that's how you get into Recovery mode, that is. Don't follow steps 6 or 7 or you'll end up completely resetting your phone!
posted by Solomon at 8:46 AM on January 4, 2014

I have the exact same issue. Read online on a Google Product Forum page (I can't find it right now) that automatic sync is polling several times a second for some phones, particularly ones connecting to Exchange mail servers. If you're syncing mail, try changing the sync frequency to every 5 minutes -- or turning it off. (This improved my battery life, but it's still crappy. Google, I am very disappoint.)
posted by marteki at 9:44 AM on January 4, 2014

On other andoid phones the culprit is google now and its location tracking.
posted by iamabot at 9:55 AM on January 4, 2014

I had a similar issue with my Nexus 5 when I first got it. For some reason, one of the apps was preventing the phone from sleeping. When I tapped on the battery graph, the "awake" bar was a solid line rather than a series of dashes and the battery life was unspectacular. After a few reboots (and possibly some app auto-updates) the issue seems to have resolved itself, and I can get a full day of moderate use on a single charge, even with GPS set to High Accuracy.

If Instagram is using so much of the battery, you might want to force stop Instagram on the Settings - Apps menus.

As far as the battery issue -- On my Nexus 5, it will reset the time on battery clock if it has a complete charge, but show time since last charge if it's taken off the charger before the battery is 100% charged.
posted by zombiedance at 9:56 AM on January 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Try enabling the new Android ART runtime for KitKat. I wasn't having any issues with my Nexus 7 but after I enabled the new caching feature my battery life is even better, by a good 15% or more. That's not speaking specifically to what might be hogging the battery on your phone, but it could help. Only downside is that apps now use 10% or more storage than before to take advantage of the new runtime.
posted by planetesimal at 11:03 AM on January 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have a very similar issue with my Nexus 4 (running 4.4.2), ever since the update that introduced Instagram Direct. When I force stopped the Instagram app, my battery life went back to normal. I don't use the app very often, so I've just been force stopping the app after I use it.

And seconding zombiedance--my battery timer only resets if the battery gets to 100% charge.
posted by yuwtze at 12:09 PM on January 4, 2014

Battery life is a big deal to me; I use an app called "Juice Defender" which allows you to aggressively curb unwanted apps and services from running. You can, for example, use it to stop instragram from running unless you open it. There's a free version and a paid version; the paid version is like two bucks and totally worth it imho. It can also monitor wifi and mobile data usage as well. Also, unless you're using GPS a lot, I would turn off location services by default, and just turn it on when you need it.

Finally, I keep mobile data and wifi off unless I'm using them.
posted by smoke at 12:53 PM on January 4, 2014

Others have touched on it, but the general cause is that you have an app installed somewhere that is wakelocking your phone. The specific cause is unknown - though people have offered a lot of knowledgeable guesses.

The way to find out for sure is to install and analyze the results from the betterbatterystats app. You can read more about it here

Also - things like Juice Defender really only deal with unnecessary but smaller power drains (think turning the a/c off in a car). Wakelocks are your phone spinning the processors for no good reason (think flooring the gas while parked). If your phone's battery life is less than 5-6 hours, you've either been actively using it the whole time or you've got some crappy app from facebook or instagram/etc. that's burning your battery.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 3:19 PM on January 4, 2014

If any installed app is your top power user then that app is broken. Uninstall Instagram. Nothing else is worth even looking at. Now presumably since everyone isn't complaining about Instagram being a battery hog something has gone wrong with it on your phone, so assuming you actually want to keep it around you can try in Settings -> Apps finding Instagram and clearing data, then uninstall and reinstall for good measure.

The final thing would be going in to Instagram's settings and seeing if you can control how often it syncs and that sort of thing, but frankly I suspect something with it is messed up rather than it being a wrong setting. I had something similar once where SugarSync was having trouble syncing a file and was just constantly trying to upload the same file over and over which ate my battery for a few days before I realized what was going on.
posted by markr at 5:39 PM on January 4, 2014

I use Battery Doctor and the previously mentioned ART, and I can get up to a day and (occassionally a day and a half) from my Nexus 5, and I'm a fairly heavy user.
posted by blue_beetle at 6:38 AM on January 5, 2014

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