[Reader Survey] What Kind of Battery Life Does Your Smartphone Get?

battery life for smartphones

Smartphone battery life is a fickle thing, not only between different phone models, but among supposedly identical phones. After nearly two years with an iPhone, I started using my Android-based AT&T Captivate in December. One difference, among otherwise Android awesomeness: pathetic battery life. I installed Serendipity, a custom ROM, and saw some improvement, but I still can’t go from morning until bed time without plugging in the phone. The catch, though, is that other Captivate users who run Serendipity report battery life that is double what I get. Battery life seems to depend on an individual’s usage, the apps installed, and the condition of the battery in the device.

Let us know in the comments what kind of battery life you get. Make sure you let us know what phone you use, how heavily you use your phone, and any tips you’ve come across to increase your battery life.

To get the ball rolling on some tips, here is a very thorough thread from the xdadevelopers forum, for you users of Android custom ROMs, with several tips and links about how to improve battery life. The tips include deleting your battery stats, and doing a “bump charge,” among others. I’m running at about 13 hours now. How about you?

Evan Kline

Hello, I'm Evan. I write about tech from my perspective – that of the average 40-something tech geek. You can also find me on Twitter and at my real-life job as a lawyer.    MORE ABOUT ME.


  1. I got a Thunderbolt about a month ago. Some days I can get 8 or 10 hours (especially if I don’t actually USE it) but most days it’s closer to 3 or 4. What’s the point of having a cool smartphone if you have to either turn off all your apps or stay tethered to a power outlet? I’m ready to trade it in for an iPhone.

  2. I’d love to have a smart phone, but this is a big reason why I don’t. I need to be available 24/7 for potential calls for my job (systems analyst for a large company – sometimes things break at 2 AM), and “oops, my cell phone was dead” is a lousy excuse. My “dumb” phone (Samsung Slider) gets 5 days from a charge, easy.

    I’m surprised someone hasn’t come up with a super-high capacity battery for smart phones yet. Or maybe they HAVE, but the phone manufacturers keep adding battery-draining features. Imagine how much money a battery company could make if they designed a battery that would run a smart phone for 5 days between charges. Or 10 … or 30.

    Also surprised that there aren’t any phones that use kinetic or solar energy to recharge. Imagine being stranded in the desert with a dead phone … wait an hour and the sun charges the battery enough for you to make a call. Or shake it back and forth to charge the battery.

    I would think that people who are on the go a lot could keep their phones charged just from the motion of their bodies.

    • It would be nice if somebody would come up with something. I’ve heard some tech people say that the one area that has lagged behind others is battery design, unfortunately. I guess it shows.

  3. My experience is similar to yours. Had an iPhone for two years and battery life was actually pretty good. Switched to Samsung Vibrant and battery life is no where near as good. I usually get 5-10 hours depending on use.

    • Shhh . . . we don’t want all the iPhone users snickering at us. :)

      I’ve adjusted pretty well to my battery life, actually, although I’m always looking for ways to improve it.

  4. Powermonkey is a useful gadget for any smartphone user – you can get a solar power addon. Yes, it doesn’t fix the problem. Even the double size extended batteries sold on ebay from the likes of Mugen (v good manufacturer btw) still require a different battery cover. I upgraded my HTC HD2 from Windows mobile to Android and thought the battery was ruined – in fact, the sheer useability of Android meant that I was using it a lot more! but I would still happily pay good money for 3x battery life.

  5. I’m using a SE Xperia Pro. It’s a single core 1GHz with 1500mAh battery. At first, the normal story of barely surviving until 6pm. There are probably alternatives, but I now use Juice Defender and Juice Plotter that graphs my battery decline (good for identifying what’s causing the drain). The key battery drain for me was down to wireless: most phones are either staying connected to wireless when screen is off or repeatedly trying to connect to 2G3G4G data and a variety of programs may be syncing necessarily. JuiceDefender Ultimate (and others too, I presume) will manage wireless exactly how you want it. I’ve set it to:
    1. Prioritize known WiFi over data, connecting only when I unlock the screen. 5 second delay before connection? Not too bad a price.
    2. Wireless/data turns off when screen is off, unless it’s above a set threshold. This way, if any downloading/uploading is happening, the connection stays until data exchange is complete. I also set certain programs (TuneIn Radio) to keep connection if screen is off.
    3. Set autosync – I set an hourly sync so syncing of facebook, calendars, some emails, RSS feeds is controlled.
    Juice plotter shows the autosyncs (once an hour, or whenever) uses 2% of battery and if I don’t turn the screen on between syncs, there is zero drain until the next sync.
    Continuous WiFi drains battery at a rate of about 12% per hour. Music works at approx 5% drain per hour or better if I leave it on shuffle.
    Either way, I’ve not gone down to 50% at the end of the working day since using battery management. There’s no standard day, or course, but it usually includes texting, internet searches, calendars, scheduling, todos, a few phone calls. And i’ve still got a couple of hours of sofa surfing for the evening. The first smartphone I’ve used freely, without worrying it’ll run out of battery before I get home.

    • They’re all great tips, Rob. Thanks for sharing.

      I’ve heard many people for a while say that the modem choice matters, too (if you’re using a custom ROM and can swap out modems). I just installed the Apex ROM with the Talon kernel on my Captivate (AT&T Galaxy S), and the battery improvement has been dramatic. At home, I used to go through 8% or more of the overall battery an hour. Now I barely use 2% an hour, and can easily go the whole day without plugging it in. I’m pretty psyched.

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