Who’d have thought, ten years ago, that today we would be navigating our way round cities, listening to music, and catching up on last night’s TV and the latest news — all through our phones? Unfortunately all these jazzy new features have their price: your phone’s battery life. My old Nokia 3310 would keep merrily chugging along for a whole week on a single night’s charge, but my Desire HD needs charging at least once a day, and if I’m out of reach of a plug for a long time, my phone dies and I sever my link with the outside world.
Luckily, there is a (partial) solution for this: JuiceDefender. This program helps preserve and extend your Android phone’s battery life by selectively turning off certain functions, such as mobile Internet (which hogs power more than anything) and WiFi, meaning you can use your phone for much longer periods between charges.
This is certainly a welcome application for all smartphone users. Let’s take a closer look at the application and its features and see what it can do for your phone’s battery life.
As mentioned above, JuiceDefender aims to preserve your phone’s battery life by selectively turning off certain aspects of your phone which are well-known juice robbers. The application comes in three versions: the basic version (reviewed here), which is free, the Plus version (€1.99), and the Ultimate version (€4.99).
JuiceDefender allows you to increase your phone's battery life and is available in three different versions
Each version enhances on the previous one, however it depends on how much you want to increase your phone’s battery. For me, the basic version (i.e. the free one) does the job well, but if you want greater customization (such as the ability to control WiFi) then you’ll need to part with a few pennies.
The splash screen for JuiceDefender, showing how much on average the phone has increased your battery life by, along with the notification
A great thing about JuiceDefender is that your phone does not need to be rooted in order for you to be able to use it, and it does not interfere with any important system processes at all. Exercise caution, though, if you use a custom ROM, as your ROM’s developer may have included some extra features that could interfere with JuiceDefender (however I have tested it with CM7 and it works flawlessly).
JuiceDefender features three different type of modes: Balanced, Aggressive and Extreme. The difference between them is how selective your phone is in turning off mobile internet and WiFi. Personally, I find the Aggressive mode works the best, as it allows you to turn off your mobile internet whilst you aren’t using it however it does not disturb your synchronization (such as e-mails and Twitter).
The different modes in JuiceDefender along with a full log of all application activity
In the Plus and Ultimate versions of the program you can customize the program further. For most users, the free version will suffice.
JuiceDefender includes a small, discreet homescreen widget which you can use to easily force-stop your mobile data if you are running extremely low on battery.
The homescreen widget for JuiceDefender. It enables you to turn off your mobile data when needed.
Although JuiceDefender tries to increase your battery life by selectively turning off mobile data when it is not required there are times when you want to squeeze a few extra hours out of your battery. The app allows you to do this without hunting through the menus on your phone.
JuiceDefender tends to turn off your mobile data when you lock your phone and turn off your screen. I have found, however, that when I have turned on my phone again JuiceDefender is a little sluggish in reactivating your mobile data, causing problems if you want to use the internet on your phone. It can also (though very rarely) interfere with any synchronization on your phone (such as e-mail or calendar events), however in the Plus and Ultimate versions of the program, this can be customized.
JuiceDefender also poses the same question as with the so-called “task killers” on Android – should I really use it? Will it be beneficial in the long run? Task killers were slated with the release of Android 2.2 (Froyo), as they were found to actually be detrimental to your phone’s battery life in the long-run, seeing as stopping and restarting your programs used more battery life than if they were simply running normally.
I have only tested JuiceDefender on one phone (my Desire HD) and I have found that without it, my phone’s battery drains a lot quicker. However, my results may differ from yours so it’s probably best to download the application and give it a try out before you draw your own conclusions. The application does tell you how much your phone’s battery life has been increased on average both in the notification (see the first screen shot) and in the actual program.
If you are, like me, suffering at the wrath of your phone’s one day battery life, then JuiceDefender is for you. I found it incredibly annoying to look at my phone’s battery life after just four hours of running off the battery and find it had dropped by half, and having to carry my charger around with me everywhere I went (though HTC’s mediocre battery may be to blame for this as well…).
Owing to the huge range of Android smartphones, however, these results may differ across models. Therefore, it is best not to assume that your results will exactly match mine. One definite conclusion can be drawn though: JuiceDefender certainly does help push your battery life to the max and squeeze those final few drops of juice out of your battery before it gives up. For people who are constantly on the move, it is a lifesaver and, since the developer offers a decent, feature-rich, ad-free offering, it’s worth grabbing.