The definitive guide on hacking the Nexus 4, part 8: How to maximize and optimize battery life

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The definitive guide on hacking the Nexus 4, part 8
This is the final part of an 8 part series of articles on the Nexus 4. This guide assumes that you have successfully rooted your device and that you’re running CyanogenMod nightly build with the Franco Kernel updater nightly builds. This guide will describe how you can maximize the battery life in the Nexus 4.

Legal disclaimer: We are not responsible for any damage or loss to your device or computer system. Therefore, should you decide to follow these steps, you do so at your own risk and peril and agree to hold us harmless from any damage or loss you may experience. Should you disagree with the foregoing, please do not read any further.

Unfortunately, there’s no magic app that will double the battery life of your Nexus 4, but there are certain ways to minimize power consumption. We don’t necessarily suggest that you do to do all of these steps as your phone should still be enjoyable to use. Therefore, we’re only giving you the following list so that you pick and choose which methods you would like to adopt. Battery savings could be very minimal depending on the method, but together, hopefully it’ll make a difference. If you have any questions or comments or other battery saving ideas, please leave a note below and we’ll add your suggestion.

1) Lower the screen brightness
The brightness of the screen is likely the number one battery killer. If you would like to increase the battery life of your phone, the first thing that you should consider is lowering the screen brightness. This single action will likely have the most impact on the battery life of your Nexus 4. If you are hoping to get more than a day’s worth of battery life, you should set your brightness to “Auto brightness” or to a lower manual setting.

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2) Minimize LTE/Bluetooth/GPS/NFC/Wifi usage
After the screen brightness, network connectivity probably takes up the most battery. LTE uses more battery than 3G and 3G uses more battery than 2G, but we’re going to leave LTE enabled–as the phone should still be enjoyable to use. There’s no point in buying a high end phone if you’re going to disable everything that makes it enjoyable or useful. Nevertheless, if you don’t currently need it, leave Bluetooth, GPS, NFC and Wifi off. NFC allows you to transfer files to other phones by placing the phones back to back. However, at this point in time, NFC has limited uses, therefore to turn it off, go into “Settings” then “More…” and uncheck “NFC”.

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3) Disable Google Now
Google Now is kinda neat, but it’s always searching for things to show you, so you can save some battery by disabling it. We don’t use it very often, so we won’t miss it. You can disable Google Now by swiping up with the desktop with two fingers. Click on “…”, select “Settings”, select “Google Now”, toggle “On” until it switches to “Off”.

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4) Enable Airplane Mode in radio dead zones
If you’re in an area that has poor or no reception, you can consider enabling Airplane mode. The weaker the cell reception, the more effort your phone has to put in to try to lock onto a signal, thus the more battery is consumed. An example of airplane mode usage, if you’re going to spend the next hour in a subway with no cell phone reception, you can put your phone in Airplane mode during the commute so that it stops trying to lock onto a cell tower for the next hour. Also, if you sit in an office all day and you have poor cell reception there, that may cause a lot of battery usage. There’s not much you can do about getting a weak signal in the office, but you should know that it’s a factor.

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5) Monitor battery usage
When you’re trying to increase the battery life of your phone, one of the first things that you need to do is figure out what is consuming the most energy. Install an app such as GSam Battery Monitor (Free) or BetterBatteryStats ($2.83) and use your phone as usual and it will tell you which apps are consuming the most battery. Various apps “wake up” your phone when it’s trying to sleep, therefore preventing your phone from sleeping for an extended period of time. You have to uninstall those apps if you want decent battery life.

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6) Monitor CPU usage
The Nexus 4 CPU’s are clocked at 1.5GHz, but they don’t always run at that speed. The higher the clock speed, the more responsive the system and the more energy it uses. The lower the clock speed, the less responsive the system and the less energy it uses. It’s a balancing act. CPU Spy Plus (free) keeps track of how often your phone is running at what clock speed. Ideally, you would like to see something like below, where the majority of the time, the phone is in “deep sleep” or in the 384MHz zone. The phone uses minimal amount of energy during “deep sleep” and it’s an indicator that nothing is waking it up repeatedly.

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7) Disable Autosync
Autosync can use quite a lot of battery life, therefore we’re going to turn off everything in Google, except for Gmail. This way you still get your email pushed to you, but it reduces the numbers of syncs and hopefully some battery. Go through your other “accounts” and decide if you really need them to sync.

sync

8) Use a static wallpaper
We all love live wallpapers, but they use a lot of energy unfortunately. The most battery efficient wallpaper is a static wallpaper. You can use any image or any solid color that you like as the Nexus 4 has an IPS display, so it doesn’t make a difference. If your phone has a Super AMOLED or OLED display (i.e. Galaxy SIII, Galaxy Nexus), it would be beneficial to use a black background as for those types of screens, it takes about 6x less energy to display a black pixel than a white pixel. However, since the Nexus 4 has an IPS display, the wallpaper color makes no difference. (source, source)

black

9) Uninstall unnecessary apps
Uninstall apps that you don’t need. The more apps you have, the more internet data requests your phone may make, also the more likely one of your apps will wake up your phone from deep sleep. If you haven’t used an app in the last month, uninstall it. Consider uninstalling Facebook, Google+, Whatsap and Skype. Those apps can consume a lot of energy.

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10) Lock timeout
Set an automatic lock timeout of 30 seconds or less. Go to “Settings”, “Security” then “Automatically Lock”. 

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11) Disable widgets that you don’t need
The more widgets you have on your screen, the more battery will be consumed. This is especially true for widgets that refresh or fetch data often.

12) Do not use a 3rd party task killers to kill apps
Android is very good at managing resources. You will do more harm than good if you use task killers. Feel free to use the task manager that comes with Android, but avoid using 3rd party task killers (source, source)

13) Upload and sync only on Wi-Fi
If you use Google+ and Dropbox, set it so they only upload files on wifi (instead of cellular data)

14) Turn off sounds
We’ve turned off “Dial Pad Touch Sounds”, ”Touch Sounds”, ”Screen Lock Sounds” and “Sound on keypress”. To get there, go to “Settings” then “Sound” and “Settings” then “Language & Input” then “Android Keyboard”.

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15) Turn off Vibrate and Haptic Feedback
Vibration and haptic feedback takes a lot of battery. Therefore, you can consider turning them off. You can turn off “Vibrate on Touch” and  ”Vibrate on keypress”. We’ll leave “Vibrate on notification” and “Vibrate on notification” enabled, but it’s up to you. Go to “Settings” then “Sound” and “Settings” then “Language & Input” then “Android Keyboard”.

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16) Install an ad blocking app

There are various apps that can block most ads in Android. I use something called AdFree (free), but a good alternative is AdAway (free) and Adblock Plus. These apps require root access to run. They will update the HOST file in Android, therefore blocking most ads from loading. Less internet requests should mean less battery usage. Google removed all 3 apps from the Google Play store (March 2013), therefore I updated the links to their homepages. You can just “sideload” the apps.

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17) Set the date and time manually

This is probably overkill, but you can disable automatic date & time and time zone and set the time, date and time zone yourself in order to reduce internet updates. Go into “Settings” then “Date & time”

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18) Turn Android debugging off

The argument goes that by enabling USB debugging, it starts the ADB server daemon and it’s waiting for requests. We’re not sure if there is any negative battery impact by leaving it enabled, but just to make sure, we’ll disable USB debugging. Go into “Settings” then “Developer Options”

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19) Turn auto rotate screen off

You can also consider disabling auto-rate. When auto-rotate is enabled, internal sensors are activated to keep track of its angle. You may save some battery by disabling it.

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20) Disable location settings

You can disable “Access to my location”, therefore apps won’t be able to use GPS or google’s location services via Wi-fi and cellular towers. If you need to use Google Maps or Navigation, just enable GPS as usual.

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21) Install a custom kernel

A custom kernel can have a lot of positive effects on battery life as they’re optimized for that purpose. You can also try Faux123′s custom kernel if you’re currently using Franco’s kernel. We’re not sure which kernel is more battery efficient, but feel free to try yourself and let us know. Please note that if you’re already running the Franco kernel, you need to flash the latest CyanogenMod nightly BEFORE you flash the Faux123 kernel, otherwise you may get stuck in a bootloop. 

22) Install an efficient launcher

Nova Launcher Prime is coded very efficiently and one of the most popular. It can potentially save some battery life. Other alternative launchers can be found here.

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21) Disable animations

No matter which launcher you’re using, try to disable the scroll effect animations when changing home screens and between app drawer screens. The less animation, the better.

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22) Reduce the number of home screens

If you can, reduce the number of home screens. We only have 1 blank home screen.

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24) Add a “Go to sleep” button

Add a “Go to sleep” button to your Quick settings panel. Instead of pushing the power button and hoping that the phone goes to sleep, you can direct the phone to go to sleep via the Quick settings panel. To add the button (assuming you’re using CyanogenMod +10.1), go into “Settings”, then “System” then “Quick Settings panel” then “Tiles and layout” then push “+” to add the “Go to sleep” button.

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25) Disable backup my data

You can disable “backup up my data” as well. Before you do a factory reset, you should turn this back on in order to resync your data.

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26) Log out of Google Talk

Google Talk logs you in by default, therefore it keeps a constant data connection. If you don’t use Google Talk often, sign out.

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27) Turn off LED notifications

Some say that the little LED light prevents the phone from sleeping. You can experiment and decide for yourself. Go into “Settings” then “System” then “Notification Light”.

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28) Turn off battery life if low.

There’s no reason to have a light blink when your battery is low. The light will only make you drain more battery. Therefore, go into “Settings”, then “System” then “Battery Light”

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29) Disable notifications in Facebook

You should disable Messenger location services (which tells people where you are via GPS when you send someone a facebook message) and you can consider disabling notifications. You won’t receive facebook notifications anymore, but you can still update facebook manually when you’re in the facebook app. A lot of people advise against use the facebook app entirely if one is concerned with battery life and to only use the facebook mobile website, but we think that if you disable messenger location services and notifications, it should be okay to use. In the facebook app, go to “Account” then “App Settings”.

facebook

30) Lowering the minimum clock speed
By default, the minimum clock speed set for the phone is 1Ghz, but you should lower it to 384MHz. You can leave the maximum to 1512 MHz or you can put it lower. Our Nexus 4 rarely runs at 1512MHz, so we’re just going to leave it at that. However, if your phone runs frequently at 1512MHz, you may consider lowering it.

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31) Undervolting

Reports seem to suggest that there is very little benefit in undervolting the CPU clock speeds, so we’re not going to do this, but we wanted to let you know that the option is in franco.Kernel updater. If you do want to give it a try, check out this thread at XDA.

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32) Turn off logs

You can disable certain logs in franco.Kernel updater to save a little bit more battery.

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33) Use a conservative Governor

If you’re using Franco’s kernel, try the “Conservative Governor” for the maximum battery life. If your phone seems less responsive, you can switch it to “On Demand Governor” afterwards. We haven’t noticed any sluggishness with the Conservative Governor, so it should work fine for you as well. If you don’t see “Conservative” as an option, it probably means that you’re not using Franco’s kernel. If you updated the CyanogeMod nightly build, it probably installed the stock CM kernel. If you want to try the stock CM kernel, you can try using “Powersave” Governor. Essentially, it locks the maximum clock speed to the lowest clock speed you have enabled. If you’re using Faux123, set the governor to “Intellidemand” for the best battery life. You can follow Faux123′s recommended settings here.

“Conservative Governor
This biases the phone to prefer the lowest possible clockspeed as often as possible. In other words, a larger and more persistent load must be placed on the CPU before the conservative governor will be prompted to raise the CPU clockspeed. Depending on how the developer has implemented this governor, and the minimum clockspeed chosen by the user, the conservative governor can introduce choppy performance. On the other hand, it can be good for battery life. The Conservative Governor is also frequently described as a “slow OnDemand,” if that helps to give you a more complete picture of its functionality.” Source

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34) IO Scheduler

The input output scheduler sets the rules for how data requests are processed (in what order). In Franco’s kernel, there are 4 options for IO Scheduler. “Deadline” is the default choice, but we’re not even sure if the IO scheduler makes a difference as far as battery life is concerned. You can leave it at Deadline or you can try the other ones if you like.

What’s the difference between the IO schedulers? If we use an ice cream parlor as an example and there was a lineup for ice cream and the shop adopted the Noop scheduler. The first come first serve rule would apply. If the ice cream shop adopted the CFQ (completely fair scheduling) policy, the shop would let each person buy one ice cream cone and they would have to go back to wait at the end of the line if they wanted a second one. If the shop adopted the Deadline scheduler, there would set a 2nd line for the elderly or for children. This line would take priority over the regular line and the priority line would get served first. If the shop adopted the Row scheduler… well, i don’t know how to expand this analogy. Row stands for “Read over write” therefore it prioritizes read speeds over write speeds. This means decreased performance when installing apps or transferring files to the phone. We’re going to go with “Deadline” as it seems to be a good balance between performance and battery life. If you would like to read more about IO Schedulers, read this and this.

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That’s it! The 8 part series is finally done! We gathered these tips from various websites, but we found the following threads at XDA especially informative (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). If you have any other tips that you would like us to add, please drop us a line in the comments below.

  • yebbey

    how do you add a button to the quick settings?

    • Hippowise

      Sorry about that. I’ve updated the article with instructions.

      • yebbey

        thanks. I suspected that it would not be in the stock rom. ah well. Trying to stay stock this time around.

  • Nick

    Thanks so much for taking the time to create this guide! I wanted to do #7 in the battery guide, but it doesn’t say how to get to that screen that says ‘Sync’ at the top! Can you include a note as to how to get there? I went to Settings–> Google but that screen does not show. Thanks.

    • Hippowise

      You are at the right place. After you go to settings > Google > click on your email address and you should be there!!

  • joseph mak

    awesome guide, thank you!

    • Hippowise

      Thank you! If you have any suggestions, please let me know.

  • yay !

    Best guide ever! Keep up the good work !

    • Hippowise

      Thank you! Glad it was useful to you!

  • meet

    congratulations at the end your phone is no more smartphone, it is dump old phone.

  • Rez

    Awesome useful article, thanks a lot, I have a question regarding the charging cycle, should the battery be totally empty to recharge it again, and during the charging it should be totally charged, & this will help to increase the lifetime of the battery or it s related to the older types of batteries, thanks again

    • Hippowise

      Some people like to charge the battery to full and then go into recovery to reset battery stats, but that doesn’t make the battery lasts longer. All that it does is make the battery monitor in Android potentially more accurate. In general, lithium ion batteries should not be completely discharged (as it reduces battery life). Most modern laptops, cell phones use lithium ion batteries. They say that you should try to keep the battery charge above 50% if possible and to keep the batteries cool (not too hot) and to unplug the battery charger once it’s full. That would be my suggestions. Thanks

      • //@V3RI(K

        If I may, I’ve also read it on several sites that instead of full charge/discharge cycle, its usually better to charge the battery variably. The more varied charging pattern, the better. I personally sometimes charge fully, or recharge to 75% when its down to 50%. Sometimes I recharge to 50% when the charge is down to 15%.

        LG Chem says that Li-Po battery in LG Nexus 4 can endure 800 charge/discharge cycles and even then it’ll hold 80% charge compared to new battery. I hope they’re right in saying that.

  • //@V3RI(K

    This has to be THE BEST guide on net at the moment for rooting/unrooting Nexus 4. Simple yet detailed, noob friendly. If you know how to handle a phone, mouse and keyboard, you’re all set! A big THANK YOU for putting all the effort in this.

    • Hippowise

      You’re too kind! I’m glad that you found the article useful. I tried to make it as dummy proof as possible, hehe.

  • Shouta

    Thanks!

  • JM

    Best battery saving tips I’ve ever seen, although some are for custom rom settings.

  • Aris

    Thanks for the tips. its very useful. I was and am an iphone user. To be honest, i am quite dissapointed with my nexus, i guess many android features have dual blades, which can be both advantage and disadvantage for the wners.

    It have multitasking, live wallpapers, plenty of widgets, at the cost of power drains. In the end, we have to turned them off or spend efforts for hunting apps that consumes power, tweak here and there, or even install a custom rom with the risk of bricking it. While in my Iphone, those features are not available, but the battery life is very good without any effort.

  • bilalsultan86

    Hi,

    My phone Nexus 4 signals disappear when battery level reaches 50%..

    Any help with that?