Help figuring out Note 2 battery drain - details inside
February 4, 2014 9:49 PM   Subscribe

I'm having trouble isolating the issue causing my Note 2 battery to drain, and I think it's related to the screen usage somehow. Details inside.

The problem seems to have started or escalated sharply a few days ago, when I noticed the battery was draining much more quickly than normal and was getting noticeably warmer than normal - I could feel it through the battery case. Before a few days ago, I could normally go 18ish hours on a full charge, while using the phone moderately to browse the web, stream media, navigate using Maps, etc. Now I'm down to 3-6 hours, depending on usage.

Here's a few screenshots of GSAM battery monitor over a 4.5-hour test period today. During this time, my phone remained sitting in one place, on my desk at work. Wi-fi, GPS, and bluetooth were all turned off. I received some text messages and two short phone calls. I wasn't actively browsing the web, no downloads, no videos playing, no streaming of any media.

From the battery usage stats, the screen seems to be sucking up a lot more power than it should. The battery usage numbers for the screen seem really high: 52.3% battery used for less than 20 minutes of use. I have my phone set to timeout the screen with 2 minutes of inactivity, but I always put the screen to sleep manually when I'm done using it, including during the test period. I did have the phone on max brightness during the test period, but this is normal use for me and shouldn't be the cause of the problem. I use the Lux Lite app to manually manage screen brightness. I haven't noticed any abnormal behavior from the screen since the problem seems to have started.

The other stats (phone, phone radio, app usage, held awake) seem to be relatively normal, and don't appear to be unduly draining the battery. But if you disagree, please educate me. I'm not used to troubleshooting phone issues.

Other info that may or may not be relevant: The phone is a SGH-T889 model, T-Mobile, Android v4.1.2. I am running Nova Launcher and a live wallpaper, but I've been using them both continually for a couple months prior to the problem popping up. I have a 1-month old spare battery and the stock battery that came with the phone when purchased in November 2012, and the problem seems to be the same regardless of which battery is in the phone.

posted by hootenatty to Technology (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You have 4:18 of "held awake" time out of an on-time of 4:37? That looks really high to me. As if some background service is keeping the phone from going into a low-power state.

In the 'App Sucker' screen you should be able to sort by 'Time held awake' to find the culprit. WakeLock Detector in the Play Store is another app that can help track down the culprit (if it's not obvious from inside GSAM)
posted by gds at 2:21 AM on February 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

You sure that T-Mobile didn't update the Android OS? Only asking because I've been reading about Verizon customers with (granted) Galaxy 3s complaining about battery drain and battery heat issues with the updated Android Verizon sent out (4.3, I think?).
posted by kuanes at 5:10 AM on February 5, 2014

Sorry to threadsit, but it seems worthwhile to respond.

gds: good advice - I just checked the App Sucker stats, sorted by "Time Held Awake," and the highest app is "Kernel (Android OS)", by a huge margin: 1 hour 35min out of the last 1 hour 54 min, with the next highest being "Android System" at 1 min. This may be indicative of an issue that should be addressed (though I'm not sure how to properly impose limits on the Kernel Android OS), but even so, the Held Awake portion only accounted for 7% of battery usage during the test period, compared to the screen at 52%. The screen use seems to me to be the bigger culprit, no?

kuanes: I'm certain that the phone is running Android v4.1.2, as it's shown via the phone's "System Settings -> About Device" menu. If T-Mobile has updated the OS, it hasn't made its way yet to my device, and I haven't been prompted to accept any kind of OS download or change. The phone has been rebooted several times in the last few days.
posted by hootenatty at 8:11 AM on February 5, 2014

I have a Note 2, and if I set my screen at full brightness my battery will die very quickly. Even at half brightness I generally have to charge it by lunchtime unless I am at home (which means connected to wifi constantly so no searching for a signal) AND don't use my phone much. I have never even gotten anywhere close to 18 hours on one charge with my Note 2. On Monday I was out of cell range for 2 hours and went from 90% to 22%. In other words, what you're describing as a problem is what I have experienced as normal for my Note 2. I have seen a lot of other people complain about battery life with the Note 2 as well. I know this doesn't really help, but maybe you just got supremely lucky with battery life and now your battery has settled down into normal performance?
posted by rabbitrabbit at 8:40 AM on February 5, 2014

This probably isn't it, but go into the Google settings app (in your app drawer) then Location and turn Location Reporting off. Leave Location History alone. This didn't break anything for me, and that setting being on was causing my phone to almost never deep sleep, which meant the battery would drain in less than 24 hours. My battery life doubled after turning it off. I have a 4.3" 720p screen on Android 4.1.2 and I get between 50 and 60 hours between charges on normal use. I only use my screen on 100% brightness if I'm outside though.

Same thing with my Nexus 7. With that setting on, I got 2-3 days of idle time. With it off, I get 5-6 days of idle time.

Again, I can't tell you this is what it is, and it doesn't jibe with your screen battery usage being so high, but I'd try it for half a day and see if it makes a difference.
posted by cnc at 9:49 AM on February 5, 2014

Thanks cnc - but I've had Location turned off for a while now, and just confirmed that Location Reporting was turned off this whole time. I also have all the Location Services (accessed via Android OS settings) options disabled - no use of wireless networks, GPS satellites, or Location and Google search to determine my location - though I will manually enable the GPS satellite option when needed for RunKeeper or Google Maps, and manually turn it off again. As I understand it, this setup should be maximizing my battery life.
posted by hootenatty at 9:56 AM on February 5, 2014

@hootenatty - I don't have that phone, but this does not seem at all like normal behavior, even with all those goodies turned on, let alone turned off. You might do a complete reset if you haven't already, and if that doesn't fix it, consider pushing for a warranty replacement.
posted by cnc at 11:19 AM on February 5, 2014

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