Android Fail – Battery Issues galore

I have a Droid 2 Global.  It is about three months old.  It is supposedly one of the best Android phones on the market.  Verizon rates it at 500 minutes of use (or nearly 8.5 hrs) of active use battery life or 230 hours in standby.  I am not sure where they come up with these numbers.  If you do anything with your phone, the battery will [quickly] fail.  Or, put another way, Android phones do not seem to understand “standby” or, if they do, Verizon’s definition of standby is a far cry from actual normal use.

My first Android phone was the Droid 2 regular.  I returned it.  Why?  Two reasons: 1. The Droid 2 Global launched with a “better” processor and global abilities.  2. The Droid 2 regular’s battery failed almost right away each day.  All day long (i.e. until the battery died), it would heat up to a nearly burning point in my pocket.  It didn’t matter that no major programs were running or that the screen was off – something was working…working very very hard and draining the battery.  Fail.  Return to Verizon.

I am fairly technical.  I enjoy playing around with my phone.  I dig into the settings.  When I first received the Droid 2 Global, it thankfully did not burn a hole in my pocket (although it becomes oddly warm while completely “off” and just sitting in my pocket) but by noon (starting at 6:30am), the battery was at less than 50% with minimal use.  I dug and dug into settings.

Now, I have my phone set to force quit nearly every program.  Nothing except for my work email is supposed to update in the background (unless on WiFi).  Sadly, despite this setting existing, it does not work.  Some programs do update (such as Facebook (not today though since not logged in), BBC, Pulse, and Google Finance).  Of course, other programs that I do want to update do not – Weather and my Google Voicemail are two key ones.

What happens when this occurs – battery fail! I am now prepared for this outcome and assume it will happen.  I bring a charger with me to work and keep it on me nearly all the time.  I have an extra battery.  Today, however, I forgot the charger, which led me to do a forced test.  How long would my battery last now that I have done everything I can possibly imagine to conserve it?

Answer – 8.5 hours after taking it off the charger, I was at 20% remaining charge.  To reach this point, one would assume I actually used my phone.  Sadly, that was not the case.  Here is my usage: about 20 text messages (10 sent, 10 received).  Exactly 15 minutes on the phone (for work, I should add!).  2 NYTimes articles read while waiting for something….nothing more.  Since I knew I would be hurting for power, I did not look at my work or personal email (Gmail) although they were syncing (until I attempted to turn off sync…and my attempt also failed since the button did not work).

I have looked for the battery culprit but to no avail.  None of the diagnostic programs I have run can point it out perfectly.  The best one, Spare Parts, says that 60% of my battery went to “other” programs.  It does not specify.  6% went to the screen. 3% went to the phone.  The processor was barely used for battery drain.

By comparison, my colleague joined me on the train home.  She has a Droid X.  She took it off the charger this morning.  It is her personal phone so she didn’t use it at all during the work day.  She received a few texts and it is syncing with Gmail (but not work email).  She had about 80% of her battery remaining.

What does mean?  Simply put, a few things:

  1. The Droid line of phones (Droid 2 or Droid 2 Global) have some issue.  All you have to do is read the comments on Verizon about the phone to confirm that.
  2. Motorola, Verizon FAIL (I do not specifically think it is an Android issue).
  3. I believe that some software Motorola (or, less likely, Verizon) installed is at fault.  I’ve seriously contemplated rooting my phone.  I am nearly at the last straw.
  4. Companies like Motorola need to focus on smart, efficient software.  Crapware and MotoBlur do exactly zero for me except to dislike your company’s products more (I should add that my battery life did improve once I got rid of MotoBlur).  Most regular users probably do not know you have a special skin.  They DO know, however, that they have a failure of a phone from Motorola.  Is that a worthwhile tradeoff?
  5. Battery life is key.  See Louis Gray’s blog post.
  6. Finally…fail fail fail.  I know these phones are powerful.  I know they can do a huge amount.  I love smartphones.  I hate phones that are warming up in my pocket when supposedly asleep. Fail.

A few side notes:

  1. My iPad last for days of usage.  While it is not using 3G, it is updating my work email account all day long (via WiFi).  Its screen is on, usually, for at least two hours a day (typing emails, on the Internet, listening to music, reading books, etc).  My Motorola Droid 2 – The screen is actually on for less than an hour each day and yet it cannot do 8 full hours.  Moto Fail.  Moto Fail.  Moto Fail.
  2. I beat up on Motorola a lot since I think it is mostly their fault – hardware issues plus all the crap they add on top in an inane attempt to differentiate (although I definitely understand why they want to try).  A know a lot of people on various Android devices from HTC, Samsung and more who have similar issue.  Android definitely needs some work on this front.  Multitasking is a culprit but not the only one (at least make the kill task switch work) and there is no reason why a phone that is supposed to be sleeping is in fact heating up my leg.
  3. My Verizon 3G mobile hotspot also died today.  It was fully charged yesterday and off all day today.  Why – poor design.  The “on/off” button: a) is in a place where it is easily knocked, b) doesn’t actually turn off half the time I attempt to turn it off.  A hotspot (and paying for the service) is no use when it doesn’t work.

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