I’ve had my Samsung Galaxy Note (on the Telus Mobility network here in Canada) for about a year now, and I love it. I love the big screen. I love the awesome selection of apps. And I love the versatility of a big, powerful phone.
But the power consumption on it sucks.
I’m not much of a power-user, but I do fire up the phone for my commute –listening to audiobooks or podcasts– and I do leave the BlueTooth on almost constantly now –thanks to my Pebble watch– and it does some solid duty as my music player at the office, too.
So it’s not really surprising that despite a full charge in the morning, by the time five-thirty rolls round that the phone battery is on the south side of charge-ville.
This has seemingly gotten worse since I upgraded to Android 4.1.2 in an official Telus update that rolled out a few months ago. And in an effort to manage, stretch, and prolong my battery life I’ve dabbled in all sorts of power management and power monitoring apps, spending more hours than it’s really worth poking through internet forums looking for insight on the problem.
I think I found something that –at least from what I’ve seen in the last day– give me hope. And I thought I would share it in case it’s useful for someone else.
It turns out there is a bit of a –lets call it a “bug” because it sure isn’t a feature– in Telus’ version of Android 4.1.2 for the Galaxy Note. And I’m going to explain it here in layman’s terms because I’m certainly not an expert in Android development or whatever. It seems that the smartphone is a little too smart for it’s own good. See, we’re a diversified ecosystem at our house: we have iProducts, Blackberries, and Android devices. We’ve also got a small collection of smart watches (Garmin and Pebble) some Kindles, a GoPro camera and tiny collection of other devices that require occasional charging over a USB dongle. So, what I’m saying, is that we’ve got a variety of USB chargers from a variety of manufacturers protruding from almost every power outlet in the house.
But that darned Galaxy Note can recognize it’s own charger: it know when it’s plugged into the one that shipped OEM with it in the box. It knows!
It is probably important somehow.
And — here’s the thing — there is a little process running in the kernel –the guts and heart and brain of the operating system– whenever you plug in your phone called vbus_present. It is probably important somehow. And when you’re charging your Note with your Samsung-certified charger it neatly recognizes when you unplug it from that charger and go onto battery power. The bug? When you’re not using the Samsung charger –when you’re using the charger for your iPhone or your Kindle or whatever even though it works perfectly fine to charge the battery– it doesn’t realize completely that it’s been unplugged. Or it half-realizes it. Or some piece of it doesn’t dismiss this vbus_present process and it sits there in the background running and pinging and asking the phone for directions like a lost tourist in a Korean bus station (I presume. Samsung is Korean, right?)
Your phone stays awake –or, at least it sleeps with one eye open never going into “Deep Sleep” mode– always pinging with this lost little process that missed its train… and thus your battery trickles away into the oblivion leaving you wondering why a phone sitting quietly in a drawer all day looses 30% or more of it’s reserve power.
So thanks to some forums and a scattering of people smarter than me about these things, I discovered this last night.
I did my next full charge on the Samsung adapter, unplugged, then had a look at the “BetterBatteryStats” app and… huzzah! The vbus_present had neatly disappeared. And over the course of the morning my phone has been getting some well-deserved rest (finally!) in Deep Sleep mode in the dark confines of my drawer. But it’s only lunch… so, I guess what I’m saying is: that’s merely my best guess right now. I’ll be watching to see the results of this latest escapade into the world of Android power tweaking and hopefully updating in the comments in a few days on my success.