As you might have noticed ever since it was first announced, we've got somewhat of a penchant for one of HTC's latest smartphones, the Hero, which is, by far, one of the most interesting mobile communication devices we've seen in a while, blending a very cool looking exterior design with a host of useful features, and, of course, that one of a kind (well, at least, for now) Sense UI.
However, despite its many merits, the Hero does have some shortcomings as well. And while we've tackled the issue of sync-ing in Windows 7
in one of our previous articles, it's time to talk about another of the Hero's negative aspects, and a much more serious one than the situation mentioned above, namely that of battery life.
So, while the Hero is indeed able to deliver quite an impressive user experience, the truth of the matter is that its battery life is far from great, at least compared to some other similar power packs available out there. Sure, the device has to run a lot of processes in the background, which requires a hefty amount of power, but that's no excuse for having to recharge the thing every other day.
As we were scratching our heads (and scouring the Internet) in order to find a way for making the Hero's battery last longer, we've come across a very useful list of power saving tips on Gamaze.com
. After applying most of them (and coming up with a few of our own), we witnessed a very serious bump up in battery life, so we decided that it might be a good idea to share them with you.
Some of these tips can actually be applied to other handhelds as well, so you might want to check them out even if you don't own an HTC Hero yet. And since most of them are found following the Menu/Settings path, we'll refrain from mentioning this issue each time.Steps to be taken for improving the HTC Hero's battery lifeDisabling the “Big EVIL” (a.k.a. Always On Mobile Data Connection)This is most likely the one feature that drains most of your handheld's battery, especially since it's clear that you don't really need it to work all the time. I mean, what's the point of having the data connection on during the night, when you're not using it anyway? Plus, by de-selecting the “
Enable always-on mobile data” check box in the “Mobile Network Settings” menu, you're likely to enjoy a lower cost of usage as well.Leave positioning to the GPS alone and switch-off Wireless Network Usage
I'm not sure just how many of you Hero owners out there know this, but the handheld from HTC also uses wireless network triangulation for aiding the GPS in getting a more rapid fix on the handheld's position. And while some people might find this useful, the truth of the matter is that the GPS feature can handle this task by itself (albeit going a little slower), so it's a good idea to switch off the use of wireless networks for location from the Location menu.Switch-off “Background Data” transfers – But NOT if you're using Google services
Another way in which you can save some battery life is by de-selecting the Background data option from the Data synchronization/Google
menu, which prevents background data transfers from occurring (thus, keeping the connection on). However, if you happen to be using some of the Google services implemented in the Hero, such as Gmail, Calendar and Contacts, you'll have to let this one go, since you'll need the connection for permanent synching to the Google servers. That poses another problem, which we'll talk about as follows.Disable/Avoid push e-mail / weather updates / Facebook and Twitter updates
Once again, this issue is related to the data connection. So, if you want you Hero to access said connection less (and save some battery life in the process), you should also decrease the time span for checking e-mail servers for new messages. This can be achieved in a fairly simple manner, via the “Set Download Frequency” option from the Mail service's Settings menu.
The same principle applies to the automatic weather update service, which should be switched off, from the settings option of the Weather application.
Another major issue here is that of Facebook, Twitter and Flickr (or other social services) integration, which is in fact one of the Hero's main selling points. However, despite being a very useful option, the fact that they require the handheld to constantly check-in on the respective services' servers for any updates will also further deplete the battery. This problem can be solved by setting a different time for retrieving updates.
In order to modify Twitter's settings, for example, you'll have to go to the Menu/Settings option in the Peep application and change the check frequency within the Send & Receive menu to a value that best suits your needs. For changing Facebook and Flicker settings, you'll have to go to the People application, Update and Events tab, Data Connection settings button and change the update frequency.Disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections while not in use
This is in fact something you ought to do regardless of what smartphone you might own, simply because it's guaranteed to save some serious battery life. Of course, switching them on when you actually need them might take some time, but the trade-off is worth it.
Disabling the Bluetooth and the Wi-Fi connectivity options can be achieved easily, since both of them can be found in the Wireless Controls menu.Practical results
Of course, you'll probably want to know just what applying all the tips we've listed above will do for the battery life of your HTC Hero. Well, our practical tests have shown that the improvement in battery life is very impressive, especially when the handheld is not in active use.
So, while the differences during normal use are not exactly significant (I mean, if you're talking/browsing/checking e-mail/navigating/etc.) using the Hero at full capacity, there won't be any significant change. However, the best way to see the improvements is by checking out the differences in battery charge before and after the night. In our case, the battery charge dropped by around 3 or 4 percent during nighttime, as opposed to 30 to 40 percent before applying the changes. Pretty good, don't you think?
Now, by measuring the stats over the past couple of days, we've been able to reach the following conclusion: by applying the modifications listed above, you'll be able to squeeze roughly 20 to 40 percent battery life out of your Hero during hard usage, and if you're a moderate user, then you'll even be able to double the battery life.