Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Samsung S3 and the poor battery life

I have had my Samsung S3 phone for a bit over a year, and the most annoying thing for me is its poor battery life. I mainly use my phone for work email, with the occasional phone call or text message, and the minimum Internet browsing, and despite that light usage, I can barely survive a day on a single battery charge.

I used every trick possible, from power savings mode, to manually syncing emails and accounts, and finally through installing Juice Defender, an Android application that turns off most of the unnecessary radio antennas when the phone is not in use to maximize battery life. The most I got was almost 10 hours of usage without charging. Better than nothing but not ideal.

I attribute the poor battery life to the poor software that runs on the device, including Samsung's and AT&T's add-ons, that I cannot uninstall after their latest update. Most of that background software eats up the battery in no time. Barring a software fix, a hardware answer would do.

An Amazon search opened up the wonderful world of extended batteries. The official S3 battery is roughly 2100mAh, but there are a lot of higher capacity ones online. The downside of the higher capacity batteries is that they need a new case for the phone, because they are thicker than what the original plastic back can accommodate.

I liked the Hyperion 7000mAh battery, and I figured with such a high capacity I should get at least 2 days on a single charge without worrying about losing power. When the battery arrived I was surprised at how thick it is, and after installing it with the new honeycomb back, my phone looked like a brick phone from the early 90s, and weighed probably as much. The battery came nearly uncharged, and the instructions recommended charging it overnight for 8 hours for 4-5 battery cycles till the battery is conditioned. After that break-in period, a normal charging cycle is good enough.

I am still at the early days with this high capacity battery, but so far all signs look positive, despite the thick form factor. I only wish device makers and network providers wrote better software.

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