Galaxy Nexus battery life: 5 tips for boosting your phone's stamina

By JR Raphael (@jr_raphael)

Got a Galaxy Nexus and finding yourself underwhelmed with its battery life? You aren't alone.

Galaxy Nexus Battery Life

Numerous Verizon Galaxy Nexus users have been complaining about the phone's stamina since its release last week (just do a quick Google search and you'll find plenty of active discussions). It seems like a signal issue may be to blame for the worst battery woes -- Verizon says it's working on a software fix right now -- but that extreme aside, there are things you can do to get more mileage out of your device.

Here are some tips for managing your Verizon Galaxy Nexus battery life and making the most of what's there.

1. Give your phone a few full charges with the power shut off.

Some theories suggest the first few days with a new phone/battery can be misleading, as the software hasn't yet collected enough data to properly gauge and report battery levels. I can't speak to the engineering side of that notion, but I can tell you that when I finished my fourth full overnight charge with the Verizon Galaxy Nexus, I started to see a dramatic improvement in the device's battery life.

Discounting the occasional drops from the aforementioned signal issue (which have become increasingly sporadic for me, by the way), my phone's battery life has actually been quite good over the past couple days. I've been pleasantly surprised.

2. Check up on your background check-ins.

An easy way to wear down your phone's battery is to let lots of apps download data in the background all day. Many apps, such as Facebook and Twitter clients, are configured by default to connect to services on regular intervals to look for updates and receive new info. Unless you need ongoing instant notifications from these apps, you'd be better off disabling the background check-ins and updating manually, only when you actually open the apps, instead.

A good starting point is to head into Android's main settings to see what's using up your battery and burning through your data. In the Battery section of the phone's settings, take note of any app that's eating up a curious amount of power. If something is wearing down your battery and you haven't been actively using it, open up the app and look in its settings for an option to disable (or at least decrease) its background update activity.

You can also view the Data Usage section of your phone's settings to see exactly how much data is being transferred by each individual app. Tapping any app in the list will show you a detailed breakdown of its foreground vs. background data-transferring stats; you can even opt to restrict the app's background-transferring ability at the system level right there.

3. Don't use 4G when you don't need it.

4G speeds are great, but 4G radios are also notorious for burning through battery life. By all means, use 4G when you need it, but if you're somewhere with readily available Wi-Fi -- like your home or your office -- switch your phone over to Wi-Fi and give your battery a break. Every little bit helps.

4. Turn down your screen timeout.

Let's face it: No matter what you do, the Galaxy Nexus's 4.65-in. display is going to use a decent amount of power. So why let it pull on your phone's battery when you aren't even looking at it?

If you haven't already, go into the Display section of your phone's settings and take the Sleep setting down a notch. For most people, there's no reason to have it set at a full two minutes; going with 15 or 30 seconds will serve you far better. That way, your display will shut itself off relatively quickly when it's not in use, potentially adding extra minutes onto your phone's daily life.

While you're there, you might also check your Brightness setting; if you aren't using the auto-brightness option, selecting a lower level of brightness is going to help you use less power throughout the day. Find a level that's comfortable for your eyes, of course, but just know that it's an inevitable tradeoff: The brighter you go, the more quickly your battery will drop when your screen's lit up.

5. Expand your phone's battery power.

One sure-fire way to get longer battery life is to use a stronger battery. Verizon has an extended battery available for the Galaxy Nexus; it gives you 2100 mAh of power, compared to the 1850 mAh the stock battery provides. The extended battery does add a bit of thickness onto the phone, but the difference is really quite minimal (and some people actually like the form better with the bigger battery in place).

Verizon's Galaxy Nexus extended batteries normally cost 50 bucks, but the carrier currently has 'em on sale for $25. That's a pretty good price for a 14 percent boost in battery power.

More Android Battery Tips

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There are some other steps you can take to optimize your Android phone and cut out unnecessary power-drainers -- narrowing down your location services, for example, and killing your automated task-killer. You can find a full list of general power-saving tips in my Android battery life guide:

Android battery life: 10 ways to make your phone last longer

JR Raphael writes about smartphones and other tasty technology. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

Article copyright 2011 JR Raphael. All rights reserved.

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