The apps sucking your phone battery dry

It seems we’re constantly glued to our smartphones, and battery life is suffering because of it. They’ve added so much to our lives that sometimes it’s hard to remember how we dealt with life before them. How did we order an Uber? How did we pass the time while waiting for an appointment? How did we let our friends know about the food we were eating?

In fact, smartphone internet use surpassed desktop internet use for the first time in 2015. And more astounding is that even developing nations have a decent smartphone presence. Smartphones are like a third arm, and they’re here to stay.

Of course, being that we’re so ingrained with our smartphones, battery life has taken a hit. Battery life is a major gripe when it comes to smartphones, and apps play a huge part in why you’re charging your phone at midday. Even when you think you’re done with the app, they still annoyingly run in the background. When will there be an end to this first world problem?! Some apps are worse than others, and many of the guilty are common apps we all love and use. Find out the three guiltiest apps draining our battery with Canstar Blue.

The top three battery-draining apps

Pokemon Go

adroid iphone pokemon appPokemon Go exploded onto the scene in mid-2016 and while many thought it was just a fad, it seems popularity isn’t waning. People can now hunt for Pokemon in real surroundings (called augmented reality – AR) and battle the Pokemon in gyms. If you’ve seen someone mysteriously walking around at night flicking at their smartphone, don’t worry – they’re probably not trying to rob a house, they’re just on Pokemon Go and probably getting frustrated at how fast their battery life is waning.

Yes, Pokemon Go is a serious culprit of the dreaded battery drain. It’s no surprise really, when you think about it. It uses all well-known power-hungry features of your phone – data, GPS and tracking, screen brightness and screen time as well as augmented reality i.e. your phone’s camera. At worst expect to drain your phone’s battery 50 per cent in an hour or so. Though there are several tips to ensure you can catch ‘em all for longer. They are:

  • Turn off AR. When trying to catch a Pokemon, there is a switch in the top right of your screen for AR. Turning AR off won’t be a life-saver but it will let you squeeze more out of your battery.
  • Look at your settings. Click on the Pokeball at the bottom-centre of your screen. Tick ‘Battery Saver’. Whether this does much for your battery is a huge question; select it anyway for good measure. Other settings include music and vibrations in the app – turn these off to gain some extra battery life.
  • Lower your screen brightness. Sure it’s not the greatest way to enjoy Pokemon Go, but lowering your screen brightness can save your battery. This works especially well at night.
  • And Remember: Sadly Pokemon Go still doesn’t work when your screen is locked or off. This is a major drawback for a lot of people who like walking but don’t want to walk around with a smartphone constantly in their hands. As such, if you’ve slipped your phone into your pocket, make sure you turn your data and location services off. While Pokemon Go isn’t operating, these two battery-drainers are, so nip them in the bud and turn them on only when you fire up Pokemon Go again.

Pokemon Go is an immensely fun app, but it sure is a battery drainer. While you’re not totally saved from a dead smartphone using these tips, you might be able to eke an extra 10 minutes or so of Pokemon Go playing time. This could mean the difference between catching yet another Pidgey or the mythical Snorlax!


The world’s most popular social network is – perhaps unsurprisingly – a huge battery sucker as a smartphone app. Out of 1.57 billion monthly users, one billion of these used the Facebook app, and 967 million used Facebook on mobile exclusively. That’s one billion people probably groaning about Facebook draining their smartphone battery in some capacity.

There are several reasons why Facebook is a battery drainer. Being that Facebook is an immersive experience – you can catch up on news, watch videos, chat to friends, play in-app games among other things – it requires a lot of screen time to be on. Screen time – as we know from Pokemon Go – is a major battery killer. While you may not want to shorten your Facebook time, there are several ways to limit how much Facebook can hamper your battery life:

  • Facebook is a large application – more than a 195mb download. It also likes to stay on in the background even when you think you’ve quit the app. Accessing your application manager and stopping its process can squeeze more life out of your battery.
  • Disable auto-play videos. As you’re scrolling through your News Feed, auto-play videos can be battery-wasting, not to mention annoying and mobile data-intensive. Save battery and precious data by turning auto-play off in your Facebook Mobile settings.
  • If all you mainly use Facebook for is to chat to friends, install Messenger instead. It is a smaller app and may use less battery. Alternatively, and slightly more extreme is to download Facebook Lite. It’s designed for use with 2G data or poor coverage areas. It has all the necessary features, but saves battery and data by not preloading images and not featuring profile photos. Facebook Lite takes out much of the multimedia aspect of Facebook, which can save battery. Facebook Lite is only a couple of megabytes to download, which is handy on data too.
  • The most extreme measure is to delete the app entirely. This is especially useful for Android users, where some have reported that deleting the app improves their battery life by 20 per cent. The major downside with this is you lose the intuitiveness of the Facebook app, and instead have to use it through your browser, which can be clunky and slower.

Facebook is a very well-developed app, but it is power hungry. Following these tips may be able to get a little more out of your smartphone’s battery. Though nothing is saving your battery from those endless cat videos and memes.

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Snapchat might seem innocuous enough. Though, dig a little deeper and you’ll see why it can be a huge drain on the battery. Here’s why you might be left out of luck when trying to fire up that dog filter:

  • It uses the camera, but not how you might think. Being that Snapchat doesn’t automatically store or process any photos like your camera does, it’s rather hopeless as a camera. As such, it only takes a single frame from your camera’s ‘Preview’ function. That is to say, Snapchat is effectively taking a screenshot of your camera’s view; it even has the ‘camera’ running when you’re not using it. This is a huge drain on your battery, and unfortunately there is no way around this.
  • All the features Snapchat keeps adding – like filters and news stories – can make the Android experience laggy and poor on battery consumption. iOS devices don’t seem to be as affected, though.
  • All that time spent using filters sucks up your battery. The ever-popular dog filter isn’t as innocent as you think.
  • Much of the fun of Snapchat comes from having your Location turned on. This can be a huge burden on your battery life, so use it sparingly.
  • Snapchat loves to continue to run and refresh in the background. So, in your phone’s settings, make sure to properly quit the app and stop it running in the background.

HOT TIP: In Snapchat’s settings, there is a ‘Travel Mode’ – this uses less data, and hence, lowers battery consumption. Use this when you’re in a pickle and need some extra battery life.

Snapchat is a very convenient app for taking photos on the fly, and taking funny selfies. But this fun can use up a lot of battery. Following these tips may be able to save your phone from imminent death.

How can I get more battery life out of my smartphone?

It’s the one million dollar question. While different operating systems are obviously vastly different, there are several, universal power-saving tips which apply to all platforms.

  • If you want to preserve your battery life, shutting down apps that you’re not using is a good first step.  Even in the background, apps can use significant power.
  • Turning off Wi-Fi and dimming the screen brightness can also help to preserve battery life, particularly if you’re not going to be using Wi-Fi for a while.
  • Likewise, turn off data and location services when you’re not using them.
  • You should also be cautious of apps which claim to help clean your phone, as these can be among the top offenders when it comes to draining the battery.
  • Apps like Facebook that start without you asking them to can have a major impact on your phone’s battery life.  These apps start when you turn your phone on and keep working away in the background even when you’re not directly using them.
  • Beware of apps that preload media like photos and videos. Apps like Instagram do it to make browsing more pleasurable, but it can be a significant hit to both your battery and data.
  • Streaming and gaming apps can drain your battery quickly and leave you data-less. Think of them as battery and data muggers and preferably use in a low screen brightness with WiFi rather than data.

HOT TIP: Keep a phone charger at home, at work and in the car. If you can keep your phone’s battery topped off throughout the day, you’re less likely to run out of battery when you need it.

All in all, it seems like there are lots of things to consider when gaining some measly minutes extra from your battery. Though, it soon becomes second nature to quickly run through some practices to preserve your battery. While we become more media hungry, our taste for slimmer phones means that battery life is often compromised. Using these tips while using these three apps may be able to keep your charge for longer.

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