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Battery Life - Unexplained Drain

Discussion in 'Android Devices' started by Travisimo, Sep 19, 2011.

  1. Travisimo

    Travisimo Android Enthusiast
    Thread Starter


    I bought my Bionic on launch day along with the extended battery. I've greatly enjoyed the phone, but my battery life is mostly horrible. Specifically, there are many instances of unexplained battery drain even when my phone is idle in my pocket. I don't expect miracles when the screen is on or when I'm using data, but I'm rarely getting more than 8-10 hours of EXTENDED battery life. So I set out to try to discover what's going on...


    Battery Profile: Maximum Battery Saver with data off in 15 minutes
    Wifi OFF
    4G ON
    Bluetooth ON

    So my typical usage involves charging my phone to 100% before I leave for work. I am able to listen to Bluetooth headphones at work, so I normally have the phone in my pocket and listen to local podcasts (no cell data) via Doggcatcher for about 4-5 hours of my 8-hour shift. I have two 20-minute breaks where I use the Mobile Hotspot with my Macbook Air. The screen is on no more than 10% of the entire shift.

    During the first 3 hours, my battery dropped very little. When I went to break and checked the stats, I was still at 90%. Then I turned on Mobile Hotspot and used it with my Macbook for about 20 minutes. When I went back to work, I turned the Hotspot off and I was at 80%. Yes, I realize the Hotspot uses a lot of juice and it was probably closer to 80 than 90 when I first got to break anyway.

    Here's where it gets interesting. During those first 3 hours before break, the battery graph shows that the phone was sleeping most of the time, even while I was listening to podcasts via Bluetooth. Obviously it shows the phone waking up when I turned on the Hotspot. However, when I went back to work, I used the phone EXACTLY like I had the 3 hours prior: screen off while listening to podcasts. Only this time, the phone NEVER went back to sleep the rest of my shift (even when I stopped playing podcasts for a while).

    And the battery dropped a LOT faster after my first break as well, even though I was doing the exact same thing. So I'm convinced that there is perhaps a software bug of some kind that is preventing the phone from sleeping under certain conditions. I have tried to use the process of elimination to discover the cause, but I am at a loss. I was at 15% battery life when I left work after my 8-hour shift.

    Here are some of the reasons for large battery drain:

    1) POOR SIGNAL. In areas where the phone is getting poor signal strength, the phone has to work harder to stay connected to the cell towers. Thus, battery life will not be as good when signal strength is poor. In my location at work, I'm in pretty much the same spot and get 1-2 bars. So signal strength is not good. HOWEVER, during the first 3 hours at work, the battery dropped very little, whereas during the remaining 5 hours, it dropped very fast. During the first 3 hours, it went from 100 to 90. During the remaining 5 hours, it went from 90 to 15. CONCLUSION: Though battery life may be less when signal strength is poor, this is not the reason my battery level drops quickly at certain times during my shift.

    2) BLUETOOTH DRAIN. I know quite a few have reported that Bluetooth uses a lot of battery. And since I'm connected to my headphones the entire time (though only playing for about 4-5 hours), one might think that Bluetooth is the cause. However, again, I was listening to my headphones those first 3 hours and the battery only went down 10%. Furthermore, the phone was actually sleeping during those first 3 hours, whereas it stayed awake the remaining 5. CONCLUSION: Though Bluetooth certainly takes a toll, it should actually be fairly minor.

    3) ROGUE APPS/WIDGETS. I only have a couple of widgets on my phone, and they are set to sync once per hour. But I also have the battery profile set to shut off data after 15 minutes, so my e-mail, notifications, and widgets don't show up until after I turned the screen back on. I did not use ANY apps during the shift, aside from Doggcatcher for podcasts and the Mobile Hotspot. So there's no app that would have been running after the first 3 hours to cause the abnormal drop in battery life. HOWEVER, I cannot confirm whether the battery profile settings are actually working. Since the phone is not going to sleep properly after I came back from break, I cannot be certain that the battery manager is actually turning off data. Still, the two widgets I have would not use much battery only being synced once per hour. And there doesn't appear to be any large data usage during this time, so I don't think there were any rogue apps or widgets.

    4) MOBILE HOTSPOT GLITCH? Obviously, the battery drained faster during those 20 minutes when I was using it during break. But I made certain to shut it off before going back to work. And I confirmed that the network was not showing up on my Air once I turned it off on the phone. I initially suspected that maybe the Hotspot was not being shut off properly, leading to the phone staying awake anytime after using it. I can't rule it out, but since the network is no longer showing up on my Macbook when I turn it off, it seems to be turning off properly. Still, it does seem suspect that the phone never went back to sleep after using the Mobile Hotspot. *** Has anybody else who's used the Hotspot feature noticed any kind of unusual battery drain after using it and turning it off?

    5) SLEEPING. I don't understand what makes the phone decide when to go to sleep or stay awake??? This may be the key to my troubles because it seems like my battery is not dropping much at all when the phone is properly sleeping, but drops a LOT faster when the battery graph shows it is staying awake. Furthermore, I can usually physically feel the phone warmer in my pocket when it's not sleeping, whereas it stays room temperature when it is sleeping.

    Can anyone explain what determines whether the phone goes to sleep or stays awake? I can confirm that the phone CAN sleep while playing podcasts via Bluetooth, though I'm not sure how that's possible? For the first three hours, the phone slept most of the time and the battery dropped very little. And then later on, I actually turned Bluetooth OFF for about 1/2 hour to see if the phone would sleep and it still did not! So something OTHER than Bluetooth was keeping my phone awake.

    So I'm really baffled by all of this. When I use the phone other places outside of work, the battery also seems to drop very quickly, though it's very inconsistent and may be related to the same sleeping issue. I can have my phone in my pocket doing nothing - with Bluetooth and Wifi both off - and the phone will still drop about 10% per hour. And this is with the extended battery! When I use the stock battery, it only lasts about 5 hours max.

    I know some have suggested defective phones, but since there are times when my battery does NOT drop very quickly (usually after a reboot), I'm leaning towards some kind of software issue. Perhaps it's a battery management issue. Perhaps it's an OS issue with sleeping. I dunno. But it's almost enough to make me return the phone even though I love everything else about it. :(

    bigbabys and SoDroid like this.

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  2. sean76

    sean76 Android Expert

    Its the cell stand by...45% on mine while idle!

    Moto has got to push out an update!
  3. Travisimo

    Travisimo Android Enthusiast
    Thread Starter

    Yes, cell stand might seem like the obvious culprit. But when the phone is properly sleeping, it uses significantly less battery than when it's awake. Cell standby also doesn't explain why for 3 hours the battery barely dropped, but after I used my phone on break, it started dropping over 15% per hour... all in the same location with the same signal strength.
  4. johnlgalt

    johnlgalt Antidisestablishmentarian

    I just reverted my old DROID back to stock yesterday - the battery has not been charged since.

    I looked on it now, and it still shows 100% and the 2 items using the phone are Standby (56%) and cell standby - 42%

    It is not cell standby. Standby, as you may well know, means that the phone is waiting, not being used.

    I can understand the bug if, once Mobile Hotspot has been enabled, that it does not truly disable, and for that the battery starts dying. however, just cell standby in and of itself is not going to drain the battery faster than actual use.
  5. Travisimo

    Travisimo Android Enthusiast
    Thread Starter

    Another possibility was that something was using up CPU cycles, causing both the battery to drain faster and the phone to get warm. However, I used a couple of different stat apps and neither of them showed anything significant in terms of CPU usage.

    So if it's not cell standby...
    And if it's not a rogue app using the CPU...
    And if it's not because of WIFI or Bluetooth...

    Then I'm thinking that either 1) something is using background data even when the phone is set to shut off data after 15 minutes (and maybe it's just not working), or 2) some kind of software glitch that is preventing the phone from sleeping after an unexplained trigger event (maybe the hotspot, maybe something else). I'll continue to do more testing and monitoring.

    Thanks for the responses...
  6. Travisimo

    Travisimo Android Enthusiast
    Thread Starter


    So today, I decided to do the exact same test, minus the Mobile Hotspot usage on my first break. So starting with a 100% charge at the beginning of my shift, I did exactly the same thing as the previous shift: listened to podcasts via Bluetooth and left the phone in my pocket. Like yesterday, very little battery was used during the first 3 hours before break. When I went to break, my phone was still at 90%.

    However, instead of turning on Mobile Hotspot and using my Macbook, I left Hotspot off and just used the phone instead. So the screen was on the whole time, and I was using various apps, including downloading a music album via Mog over 4G. When I went back to work, the phone was at 80%.

    During the next 3 hours, I listened to more podcasts and music (again, no online streaming, just local files) and the phone did not continue to feel warm like the previous day. When I went on my next break 6 1/2 hours into my shift, the phone was still at 60% but according to the battery graph, it still did not go back to sleep during this time. However, the battery was significantly higher than the previous shift at this time, so I'm still thinking that maybe there is a glitch of some sort with the Mobile Hotspot not turning off properly OR preventing the phone from ramping back down after you turn it off.

    I will continue to test this, but I can't think of any other explanation after two shifts with exactly the same usage and location, but with significantly different battery life results...
    johnlgalt likes this.
  7. johnlgalt

    johnlgalt Antidisestablishmentarian

    That Motorola DROID I mentioned earlier? It has not been activated - and thus is not connected to anything.

    Same DROID, same battery, no charge - still at 100%. So, connecting to services does eat battery if you do not amend how the phone uses those services using the various native battery saving techniques....
  8. Travisimo

    Travisimo Android Enthusiast
    Thread Starter

    UPDATE #2 -

    Well, I am convinced that the Mobile Hotspot somehow causes my phone to drain battery very quickly even after it is turned off. The last two shifts, instead of using the Mobile Hotspot, I just used the phone the entire time instead on my breaks. So no Hotspot, but the screen was on the entire time instead.

    My battery life was significantly better and the phone was obviously going to sleep again after my breaks. When using the Mobile Hotspot, my battery life was barely more than 8 hours (remember, this is with the extended battery). The last two times, my battery has lasted about 12 hours with identical usage except for the hotspot.

    My next test will be to use the Hotspot again on my break, but reboot the phone after turning it off and returning to work. In this way, I should know if somehow the Hotspot is causing the phone to use more battery even after it is turned off.
    BenDroid likes this.
  9. BenDroid

    BenDroid Well-Known Member

    I just wanted to say thank you for putting forth a lot of effort and testing to try and figure this out. Even though many of us might not be having the same problems, that doesn't mean someone else might not and this is some good info to have.
  10. WizeGuyDezignz

    WizeGuyDezignz Android Expert

    Don't mean to interfere here, but does the Bionic happen to have the Blockbuster app preinstalled on the phone? If so, that may also be a culprit. Even when you're not using it, that app is notorious for being a battery KILLER!
  11. twistedlim

    twistedlim Android Expert

    Just for kicks I swapped the sd card out with trancend class 10,16gb had . I formatted the card on my computer and in my phone. I was getting about 10 hours on moderate to light use and it would drain about 7 percent while idle (compared to about 2 percent on my old Charge.). I took out off the charge and have used it more than usual...almost 13 hours and I am at 37 percent. I am thinking the cards were most likely not formatted before sale. Coupled with the fact that my OEM card yes a non branded item...well, maybe the issue?
  12. Travisimo

    Travisimo Android Enthusiast
    Thread Starter

    Yes, it is preinstalled but it is not showing up in the battery usage stats and I've never opened it since getting the phone. Thanks for the suggestion though.
  13. Travisimo

    Travisimo Android Enthusiast
    Thread Starter

    I don't have another card to try right now... would simply taking out my current memory card accomplish the same test? Or do I need to have a memory card in there at all times?
  14. WizeGuyDezignz

    WizeGuyDezignz Android Expert

    Yes, it won't show up in the battery usage stats because it's a syncing issue. Open the app and make sure that it's not set up update the movie library. Because if it is, it will constantly be working in the background but for some reason it won't show up in the battery usage stats.

    This was a well documented problem in the ThunderBolt forum, you can search for it over there for more info.
  15. billymims

    billymims Lurker

    I am having the exact same problem with my bionic. After using the hotspot the bionic will stay warm (almost as warm as it gets when its running the hotspot) and the phone's (extended) battery will drain at an accelerated rate. I know it will drain fast when the hotspot is in use, but it should stop when its turned off.

    A reboot of the phone will seem to stop the draining, but that is going to get very old very quick. If anyone has any updates or fixes that they have come up with please let us know.

    I love my bionic and I am not going to take it back, I just don't want to have to reboot it every time I use the hotspot.

  16. Travisimo

    Travisimo Android Enthusiast
    Thread Starter

    Yep, it definitely stays warm after using the Hotspot, even after turning it off. Since I was using the Hotspot during every shift at work, I was getting horrible battery life every day. The last few days, I purposefully did not use Hotspot and my battery life has been much better. And yes, this goes much further than just the extra battery drain while using the Hotspot. There's definitely some glitch that either prevents the phone from sleeping or just continues something even after Hotspot is turned off. Since the WIFi network no longer shows up on my Macbook when I turn Hotspot off, it's definitely turning *something* off, but something must be continuing to run in the background that doesn't show up in battery stats.

    So yeah, it seems like the only work-around for now is to reboot after using the Hotspot... which is obviously not ideal (especially for those of us who use it every day). I plan to visit the Moto forums and post about this so maybe the engineers will see it and fix it.

    Anyone else with experience with this issue?
    johnlgalt likes this.
  17. Travisimo

    Travisimo Android Enthusiast
    Thread Starter

    Well, so far, rebooting the phone after each use of the Mobile Hotspot is the only solution I've found to this problem.

    Have any of you who also use the Hotspot discovered this problem, where the phone will continue to be warm and drain battery very quickly even after turning off the hotspot on your phone?
  18. johnlgalt

    johnlgalt Antidisestablishmentarian

    It cannot sync if it has never been run an has no data to download, right?

    i've checked my running services too a billion times and never seen it in there before I froze it out of my phone.

    Thanks for all your hard work. I hope I didn't come across as braash, or anything, but it makes no sense, with what I am seeing, that the percentages shown in the battery usage are percentage of charge being used by a particular app.

    I was sitting at 90% charge and yet I showed cell standby using 44%. IOW< 58% of the 10% of charge that had been used was used by cell standby. That means that it used a total of 5% of my charge. Not a lot at all.

    Of course, now, several days later, the DROID is at 7 days 19m 51s since unplugged and still shows 43% used by cell standby. The current battery level is about 50%. So, now, cell standby has consumed roughly 21% of the total charge used by the phone....

    I'm down with that.
  19. Travisimo

    Travisimo Android Enthusiast
    Thread Starter


    I may have to put my tail between my legs and rethink this whole debacle. After seeing some posts about Widgetlocker causing battery drain, I thought I might as well do a test without Widgetlocker running to eliminate that as a variable. Instead of uninstalling it, I just disabled it in its settings menu (all apps should have this by the way).

    Voila! I've been running two days now without Widgetlocker and my battery life has improved at least 30-40 percent! I even refrained from rebooting after using the Mobile Hotspot and the issue with continued battery drain and warm phone has gone away. Checking the battery stats also indicates that my phone is now properly going to sleep more often than before.

    I still don't understand why there was a correlation between turning off the hotspot and continued battery drain before disabling Widgetlocker, however. I wouldn't think Hotspot would have anything to do with Widgetlocker?

    Will continue to report back, but it's looking like Widgetlocker was the culprit. The hotspot still uses a good deal of battery while it's on (as expected), but is no longer keeping my phone warm and running down the battery after I turn it off. Now someone figure out THAT one! Lol

    EDIT (for more information):

    I'm using a tool called "Battery Monitor Widget" from the Market that has been indispensable in diagnosing my battery usage. For my setup, I have a notification icon enabled that shows my battery life in 1% increments. And if I click on the notification icon, it takes me to the actual app, where there's a plethora of battery information. I have it set to update the mA use every 60 seconds and the History Update Rate to every 5 minutes (these are the defaults, I believe). In this way, you get a very accurate reading of your battery and it presents a very usable graph when you enter the app.

    It will also show you estimates on how much longer your battery will last in several different ways:

    - Estimated based on your current usage
    - Estimated based on your average usage since unplugging from being charged
    - Estimated based on your overall average global usage since installing the app

    This is great! The graph will show past use as well as three different predictors based on the above usage variables.

    At any rate, it was no surprised to discover that the phone uses larges amounts of mA while the Mobile Hotspot is active. And it uses very little mA when the phone is sleeping. However, Widgetlocker never showed up once in my battery usage list (in the system settings), so I had no idea it was the culprit of my battery drain.

    However, with the Battery Monitor app installed, I could tell when the phone was using very little amperage and when it was using a lot, which helped quite a bit. Since using the app, I have discovered the following (many of which come up in other threads about battery life):

    - With WIFI, Bluetooth, and Hotspot all turned off, the phone uses very little power when it is sleeping, even with 4G kept on. I do, however, have background data turned off after 15 minutes.

    - I use Bluetooth headphones every night at work to listen to local music and podcasts. With Bluetooth turned on but not connected to anything, there is only negligible battery drain. And even though Bluetooth shows up as appx 25% in the battery usage list, it still isn't using very much battery when it's connected to my headphones with nothing playing. When actually playing music/podcasts through the headphones, the battery drain is more noticeable, but now that I've eliminated Widgetlocker as a major source of drain, I have noticed Bluetooth doesn't use nearly as much battery as I originally thought.

    EXAMPLE: I work an 8-hour shift, playing podcasts via Bluetooth appx 4-5 hours of that time. I have two 20 minute breaks where I either use the Hotspot or I just use the phone with the screen on. And I may turn the screen on now and then throughout the night to select a new podcast, etc. With that usage, I was only getting about 9-10 hours of battery life before discovering the Widgetlocker problem. I would leave work with 5-20% battery every time.

    Now, however, under the EXACT same use case, I am leaving work with appx 50% battery life left! The only thing that is different is that I disabled Widgetlocker. And in Widgetlocker, I did NOT have any background widgets enabled, so I have no idea why it was draining my battery so quickly. Nor would I have even known it was causing the problem without disabling it myself to check.

    ANYWAY, I hope all of this helps those who are trouble-shooting their own battery problems. With the extended battery I've been using, I am now confident that I can get 12-16 hours of battery life with 4G enabled and what I would call a "light-moderate" use. I'm not using the screen often, but I do leave 4G on. When using the screen more often, or using more of the Hotspot, then my life will probably be around 10-12 instead. But this is MUCH better than what I was getting before!

    Here are links to the Free and Pro versions of the Battery Monitor Widget app:

    jroc likes this.
  20. Travisimo

    Travisimo Android Enthusiast
    Thread Starter

    Ouch. And just like that, I get de-stickified! lol. That's okay, the problem is solved, but I just hope those who were following it don't miss the climactic conclusion! :D
  21. DDave

    DDave Well-Known Member

    Very good review... Someone should put together the highlights and make a new sticky.
  22. bigbabys

    bigbabys Android Enthusiast

    This thread makes me sad. I wave widgetlocker and I was planning to re-install it on my Bionic soon, but now I think I will steer clear. I did gain the very valuable Battery Monitor Widget, so thank you very much OP :)
  23. Travisimo

    Travisimo Android Enthusiast
    Thread Starter

    You could always install Widgetlocker and see how it affects your battery life. It's very easy to disable it in the settings without uninstalling it so you can do an evaluation on how it affects your battery performance. There seems to be plenty of users that are using it without issue. I'm not sure why it affected my phone so much. I could enter into a second round of diagnosis to see whether it was just a particular setting or function of Widgetlocker that was causing the problem. But I'm so happy with the extra battery life right now that I don't have the motivation to do it! :) Seriously, I'm leaving work now with 50% battery whereas I was always down to 5-20% when Widgetlocker was installed.
  24. billymims

    billymims Lurker

    I never had widget locker installed and I am still getting the battery drian when I don't reboot the phone after using the the hotspot. Is anyone else having this issue?

Motorola Droid Bionic Forum

The Motorola Droid Bionic release date was September 2011. Features and Specs include a 4.3" inch screen, 8MP camera, 1GB RAM, TI OMAP 4430 processor, and 1735mAh battery.

September 2011
Release Date

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