Will "the Mighty" Strohl

Power Saving Tips for the Google (G1) Phone

I have been using the first generation attempt from Google in the cell phone or smart phone market.  Nearly everyone already knows that the G1 or Google Phone exists.  Everyone has their own opinion on whether or not it’s a good phone to have.  For me, there’s no question that there is no other phone that I could live with.  I absolutely love mine, and I cannot wait to use their next version, codenamed “cupcake."  While that is indeed a horrible codename, the new features look incredible.

Since we cannot look at the G2 right now, I figured that I would help you with your G1 right now.  The fact is, the G1 is packed full of features.  But, just like any other computer out there, the more features that you use at once, the more power it will use.  For those that do not understand this, the G1 could be a difficult or bad experience.  Some have even gone as far as returning their phone because they do not understand this.  Unfortunately, I cannot fault them for that.  If the phone doesn’t work how they expect to, please do return it.  That being said, once you understand how much your G1 is doing out of the box, the better off you’ll be.

When you first begin using the G1, it will already be doing the following at a minimum:

  • Screen will be at its brightest level
  • Sound will be turned all the way up
  • Auto-synch is enabled for all Google services
  • Wireless networks is enabled
  • GPS is enabled
  • Screensaver time will be longer
  • Instant messenger(s) running

Your phone probably has much more than that going on, but you should get the idea.  Once you walk out of the store, and begin using your phone, that list will get longer and longer as you install applications.  Some applications are always on, while others allow you to close them. 

The rest of this post contains tips that can help you save battery life on your G1 phone.  Some will apply to you, and others will not.  We all use the G1 differently.  That being said, just know that there is not a longer life battery out there for us to buy.

Tip #1 – Keep Only the Minimum Number of Applications

Just know that many applications “call home” from time to time.  What does that mean?  It means that the application uses your data plan to contact a server to do something.  This may be checking for application updates, or looking for data (i.e., email, twitter, etc.).  The more applications that are open, actively calling home, the more power your phone is using.  Conversely, even if those applications are not calling home, they are taking up memory, which also uses up power.

So, make sure that you only install the applications that you absolutely use, and only open them when you need to use them.  Also, uninstall any applications that you’re not using.

Tip #2 – Close Your Web Browser Windows

When you use the web browser, you undoubtedly are having a great time looking all kinds of things up.  However, if you leave the browser window open, and just exit back to the desktop or start the screensaver, your phone will be using more power to keep the browser window open, and the browser history for that window.

Close every browser window when you’re done with it.  Even if you have only one window open, close that window as well.  What will happen is that the web browser will open up a new one that has no browser history to maintain.

Tip #3 – Turn Off the Phone Every Now and Then

Some applications are not able to be closed by us.  We think we closed the application, but in reality, it is still open in the background.  Unless the program has a setting that literally is labeled something like “Exit” or “Close Application,” think of what you’re doing as minimizing the application.

As a general rule, I would suggest that you turn off your phone and turn it back on every 1-3 days.  This will ensure that all open applications are closed.  This has another added benefit too.  You get a fresh connection to the cell phone carrier network.  This is a good thing.  However, also be aware that applications like the Live Messenger will automatically start up and sign you in when you turn your phone back on.

Tip #4 – Use Only the Networks You Need

The G1 gives you the convenience of using the Edge, G, 2G, or 3G networks.  You can also use local wireless networks, such as your home or work wireless network.  Unfortunately, the default settings has the phone constantly scanning for all of these network connections, so it can either optimize your phone’s data speed, or notify you that the network exists.  Every time this scan occurs, more power is used.  This scan happens at least once a minute.

If you are in an area that you know doesn’t have 3G available, turn it off.  Your phone will no longer scan to see if 3G is available again.  Also, turn off the wireless networks option completely until you actually want to connect to one.

Tip #5 – Get the Power Manager Application

One application that is an absolute necessity is the Power Manager.  Without this application, there is very little that you will be able to do to really get the most out of your battery life.  No matter how many tricks you employ to save battery life, this application will at least double your efforts for you.  I have blogged about the Power Manager before, but in short it allows you to create and change profiles to match conditions on your phone to help you save power.  For example, one of my profiles is called “Low Power.”  This profile is started by this application when the battery life lowers to 30%.  When this happens, I have the phone do the following:

  • Dim the screen
  • Turn off GPS
  • Turn off wireless networks
  • The screen saver comes on quicker
  • Volume goes down
  • Bluetooth is disabled

The profile I just described may not work for you, but my list should give you an idea of what is possible.  You can easily customize or create new profiles to manage the phone features to fit your needs and extend the battery life.  Just know that the application now costs $0.99, which is a steal!

Summary

I hope that my tips have given you an idea of how to extend the life of your battery on your G1 phone.  And maybe you will have an idea of how to determine another option to better help you use your G1 phone longer and easier.  If you have any additional tips, please leave a comment.



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