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July 10, 2014 11:45 PM   Subscribe

The battery life on my Samsung Galaxy S3 has become bad and unpredictable, and I'm looking for either a larger battery or some kind of extended battery case. What are the best options?

If I ration my wifi/internet use, turn off location services, and close all apps frequently, I get reasonable battery life. But I'm sick of having to do that, and also of having my phone die around 3pm more often than not.

I have already tried buying an extra battery and swapping them. But it's a pain to remember to charge them both, to constantly be carrying another thing in my pockets, and also to have to reboot when I change them out.

I know there are enormous batteries that require you replace the back of the phone. This is acceptable to me, but since they all seem to be sold by shady Amazon resellers, I'm wondering if there's an option that will guarantee quality and reliability.

I would also be okay with a case, even a fairly large one, that charges my phone. I'm aware of a case made by Powerskin but Amazon reviews seem mixed.

I know this isn't a niche problem. Apparently fixing battery life is the big engineering push for the next Android version. And the GS3 was a really popular phone. It seems like there ought to be a well-regarded extended battery of some kind.
posted by vogon_poet to Technology (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Dude you can buy a Samsung branded extended battery. It's got great life without being massive, and because it's made by Samsung you know it isn't total crap. It's larger but not ridiculously so. I have it in my phone and love it. Just Google extended battery Samsung s3.
posted by smoke at 12:55 AM on July 11, 2014

I've got a different Samsung (Galaxy S Relay 4G, similar to your S3 in many respects) and over on the XDA fourms, there's some good buzz about MPJ Batteries.

However, since you seem comfortable with the bulk that would be added by a battery large enough to require a different phone back, or even a fairly large case, I wonder if you might consider just getting an external battery pack. Anker makes some really good ones.

This is one that I use when playing Ingress, which has to be one of the most battery killing apps a smartphone can run. This model is good for like 6-8 hours of having your screen on constantly w/brightness cranked to where you can actually see it while outdoors, rendering 3D with particle effects, constant network data traffic, and calculating a GPS lock, which is why many Ingress players swear by it.

(But if the external battery isn't your thing, Anker does also have the kind with the extended phone back.)
posted by radwolf76 at 1:42 AM on July 11, 2014

I have the ZeroLemon on my S4, and while it's bulky it's really good.

Also: get JuiceDefender and if your phone is rooted or you're ok with doing it manually get Greenify and learn how to use it (it's pretty straightforward and this alone will help a lot).
posted by pyro979 at 6:54 AM on July 11, 2014

Look at battery stats in the settings. What's using the most power?

Also install wake lock detector and see what's stopping your device from sleeping. Google 'wakelock' 'issue' and the 'app name' to resolve it.

You can also turn off background data for certain apps by clicking on the app in the battery section of settings.

Turn down your brightness, change your homescreen wallpaper to a dark image, don't use a animated wallpaper and set your phone to turn off the screen and lock after 5 seconds of inactivity

Use timeriffic to turn off Wifi and Bluetooth when you're not using it. (These don't use much battery so not much effect). Turn off GPS and google location tracker. Turning off mobile data saves quite a bit though (but is not possible with automation software like timeriffic, you have to do it manually) You still get texts even when it's turned off.

Check your signal strength during the day (also in the battery stats - tap on the battery use graph to access the signal strength). Poor signal means the phone has to up the power to connect to networks, which drains your battery. If you keep it in a bad signal area (like a metal locker, it's going to drain very quickly)

I'd also advise installing Cyanogenmod. My battery life improved with that and there's a really simple installer guide you can google to do it. It's not as hard as you'd think.

That's the sum of my Android battery knowledge. Hope it helps you out.
posted by guy72277 at 8:22 AM on July 11, 2014

Also I believe that 'Juice defenders' are a little like android task killers, antiviruses and snake oils.
Get rid of all apps you don't need (read about Cyanogen - its bloatware free)
posted by guy72277 at 8:26 AM on July 11, 2014

If your battery life has deteriorated significantly from where it was without significant changes in use pattern (i.e more mobile gaming, for example) and replacing the battery hasn't helped, I'd suspect you have an app or two that's causing the bulk of the problem. That killing everything off periodically helps also points to it being an app-drain problem.

Odds are there's something that's running in the background that's
a) stopping the phone going into deep sleep and/or
b) using gps a lot or keeping the radio active a lot for data

These problems can shorten battery life dramatically. On android, full wakelocks keep the screen on so it's relatively easy to spot apps using that. Partial wakelocks keep the CPU active but let the screen turn off so are much harder to find by hand.

When your phone is running well, the vast bulk of battery drain will be screen use; controlling the brightness can help somewhat with that. The second biggest drain should be the cell radio, which can rise if you're regularly in weak signal areas, which there's not much you can do about alas. If anything else is a high percentage you have a potential wakelock problem.

You can spot this pattern with the battery use stats in settings; if your phone is spending time awake when the screen is off (i.e. you're not actively using the phone) then you have a wakelock problem.

Assuming you've not updated to kitkat (4.4) yet, you can use wakelock detector to look for partial wakelocks. They're fine in moderation (such as checking for email in the background), but anything that has wakelocks running for hours, not seconds or a couple of minutes cumulative time is going to be draining battery hard from cpu usage and/or keeping the radio active for data.

If you're on kitkat, you can either root the S3 (root gives you full control of the software on the phone) or use a workaround to give wakelock detector temporary access to what it needs.

Another good app for spotting hidden battery drains is better battery stats - will give you more detail about how much time the phone is spending out of deep sleep, and what apps are causing it if you dig down into the data. It's a bit nerdy, but gives you a huge amount of information. Again, if you're on kitkat, you'll need to root first in order to enable a number of the features.

Just one app running excessively and keeping the phone awake can halve your battery life or worse, so it's worth tracking the little buggers down; and either changing its settings or finding an alternative.
posted by ArkhanJG at 1:36 AM on July 12, 2014

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