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Android Pie actually fixes a smartphone's biggest problem: battery life

Android dudes
Android dudes (Image credit: Jerry Hildenbrand / Android Central)

I carry around a BlackBerry KEY2 as my "daily driver" but my other phone — the one I use for work and do random things to and install random stuff — is a Pixel 2. The small Pixel. The best Pixel. Well, best in everything but battery life.

The smaller Pixel 2 has a 2,700 mAh battery compared to the bigger 3,520 mAh battery in the XL version. You can talk about pushing fewer pixels and how it uses less battery until you're blue in the face but the Pixel 2 has a small battery and doesn't last nearly as long as its bigger sibling or many other phones. In fact, it has struggled to make it through the day on occasion — and I'm not one of those people who can never put their phone down. But all that was in the pre-Pie days.

Android Pie wasn't the most flashy of updates, but it did one thing right. A very important thing.

Android Pie did some cool things with notifications and added in some half-baked gestures, but ultimately it looks a lot like Oreo. Which looked a lot like Nougat. There are folks who hate it all and wanted to see it burned to the ground and rebuilt into something different, but Pie wasn't the update for them. But it is the update for everyone else. And that's because it addresses the single most important thing about every smartphone in the world: battery life.

We always want the battery to last longer. You can buy specific phones with ginormous batteries or secret sauce that makes a battery last longer than it should — my KEY2 comes to mind there because BlackBerry isn't ever going to tell us why it gets double the battery life of most other phones its size. Maybe it's a Canadian military secret. Anyhoo, I was saying you can look for a phone that has a big honking battery if you want to, but most phones don't fit that mold and have smaller batteries and dedicated forums filled with people and ideas to make them last longer.

Pie changes all of that. Google is using its powerful and scary Artificial Intelligence to make the battery last longer. Google calls it Adaptive Battery, but I call it "hot damn, this is so much better". If I'm in a place with a strong signal and mind what I'm doing I can get almost three days from my Pixel 2 battery and that's with the screen on about 7 hours worth during that time. And you can cruise on over to Reddit and see folks that are getting even better numbers since the Pie update. That's downright amazing.

Android Pie's Adaptive Battery doubles the battery life on my Pixel 2. It's about damn time.

I admit I was skeptical when I first heard Google talking about machine learning that can predict your usage and get insane battery life, and there is a problem somewhere that makes your battery life suck if you don't have a great signal. Clearly, the tech isn't perfect. But it's better than I expected and that's always a plus. Android updates are always a mixed bag of good and bad and that one thing that really sucks, but I don't even care about any of it with Android Pie. Google got Adaptive Battery right, or at least almost right, on the first try.

More: Android Pie issue tracker: The biggest bugs and problems

I know that plenty of other people are seeing their phones crash and burn when it comes to the Pie update on their Pixel phones. It's one of the biggest complaints with every update and Pie was no exception. I have no idea why it is so good for some and so bad for others (I expect it's either app related or signal related) but I hope someone at Google can figure it out and whatever is done to fix it doesn't F up my battery life. And here's hoping Android Q can fix the next worst thing in the world and my phone can finally mow my lawn.

Happy holidays, y'all. Stay out of trouble!

Jerry Hildenbrand
Jerry Hildenbrand

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

96 Comments
  • Odd.. can’t remember mine ever going under 20% in a day.
  • Depends on every individuals use case
  • Exactly
  • Pie is working great on my Essential Phone and battery life is improved, although it wasn't awful to begin with.
  • I bought the Essential phone after the Pie update so I don't have a comparison but yeah that thing could last over 7 hours of screen on time with heavy use. I was testing it that day so I put it through a lot more than normal usage.
  • Ah... The cult of Pixel again, with guru Jerry informing the sheep a small battery and small phone with fewer pixels (lol) in its lousy screen is better for you. I'm not a troll... I'll call out BS mobile journalism when I see it. Deception Small batteries in a Pixel are now awesome. Exclusivism Pixel gets early adoption of latest Android software. Fear & Intimidation The fan boys who defend Pixel loudly here.... Nonsense about a pure android experience. Ignorance about low worldwide sales. Love bombing & Relationship Control The exclusivity to one carrier in 🇺🇸. The almost weekly posts about a year ago heee about how the Pixel was the best phone. Informational Control The drip, drup, drip of leak info and weekly reproduction of the summary of leaks. Pressure Selling The prerelease push... Anyways kids, you get the idea. Take the pablum Jerry is dishing out here for what it is.
  • I love comment threads.
  • Guru Jerry won't dare respond... He knows I'm right. I don't deny the gentleman can write some good stuff on occasion, but not here, not this pablum.
  • Why are you hating on Jerry? Hate on the Pixel all you want. But Jerry?
  • Or maybe you're just an ******* and he's over it. Like i am.
  • Best comment this month....!
  • " So Dark. You must be from the Apple Universe. "
  • Lol... At least the Cult of Mac peeps are honest about their indoctrination... No no... I'm an android guy... I'd like to think of myself as a critical thinker. The power of advertising, and echo chambers like AC, is very real. But sure, take the good with the bad. Some of the posts can't seem to understand Guru Jerry mskes the odd mistake or goes to fsr in his obedience to Pixel. I won't make the 'Guru Jerry' reference anywhere else. But this article is in all time fraud territory for AC.
  • Jerry hated on the 3XL on the last podcast, FYI. And he said he carries a KEY2 in the article. Your obedience claim is weird.
  • "I'd like to think of myself as a critical thinker." You sound like a conspiracy theorist. Might be best to log off and chill out ✌️
  • i guess you don't carry Pixel phones.
  • I swear, this is the greatest post I've read in years.
  • Spoken like a true Jack
  • ...ass. there I finished the word for ya.
  • The article is about Android Pie, and he just happens to own a Pixel 2 and shared his experience. Not many phones have Android 9 yet, and I'm looking forward to see battery life improvements on my phone(not a Pixel). I do acknowledge the apparent bias towards Pixel devices on this site however, don't get me wrong. Especially in the comment section from a specific user *cough *Beno *cough
  • Replace the word 'Pixel' with the word 'Apple' and I'll agree with you.
  • I'm not sure that you read the article properly. Maybe you should read it again. You seem to have read comments that simply weren't there and misunderstood the ones that were.
  • Jerry this Jerry that... The Man has got to get paid....
  • "Android Pie's Adaptive Battery doubles the battery life on my Pixel 2" The only way that is even close to being true is if the Pixel 2 on Oreo had a bunch of infrequently used apps that were misbehaving terribly by constantly running in the background when they shouldn't have been. The only thing Adaptive Battery does is stop infrequently used apps from running in the background. If Pie and Adaptive Battery really DOUBLED the battery life of the Pixel 2 then that Pixel 2 must have had terrible battery life and was nowhere near typical battery life for a Pixel 2 which already isn't that good. 3 days with 7 hours screen on time from a Pixel 2? I don't care how good Adaptive Battery is that's just total BS. Of all the battery life claims I've seen from people with a Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL they all show that with similar usage the XL beats the non-XL in battery life but some how someone with a non-XL Pixel 2 managed to destroy the best battery life of the XL? Sorry but I don't buy it.
  • 🤔Stanley Milgram approves of this post. 🤣
  • I call BS on 7 hours of screen on time for ANY phone. I consider the battery life on my OG Pixel XL, both on Pie, and Oreo before it, to be pretty damn good, and I never got anywhere NEAR even 4 hours. I can get through an entire day off the charger, with roughly 2 hours of screen time (plus or minus a few minutes here or there), which I consider to be moderate to heavy usage, and that is pretty damn good battery life. I don't buy these frequent claims of 6, 7, or even 8 hours of screen on time, and I certainly don't buy 7 hours of screen on time across THREE days. Sorry Jerry.
  • The sd835 made huge improvements in efficiency which had a dramatic improvement in battery life. Both my pixel 2 xl and essential ph-1 would go 2 days with 7+hours of sot over that 2 days. You are using an older, bigger, less efficient phone as a benchmark to say everyone else with new hotness is making stuff up?..... Right.
  • People have been claiming 6-8 hours of screen on time out of one battery charge for years now. LONG before the 835 or even the 820. Riiiight. Still not buying it. BS.
  • Ok I made an account just to answer your stupidity. It's called micromanaging your tasks. It's called not having 10 social media apps hogging battery life constantly. It's called not having Bluetooth, NFC, wireless display, LTE, Wi-Fi on all at the same time. My Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 gets easily 7 hours of screen on time a day... If you're getting 2 hours of screen on time, it's because you have no clue how to use your phone. My Bluetooth is off and my NFC is off when I don't use them, and when I have LTE on I turn off WiFi and vice versa. None of my apps are running in the background because I'm not a social media fiend who needs notifications now. I once got 8h30 screen on time over the course of 2 days with this phone and that's with using LTE and WiFi about 50% each at Max or medium brightness. Hell back in the S6 days I could easily get 4-6h screen on time with LTE and wifi and decently heavy usage. We all know how trash the battery was on that phone. Just because you don't know what you're doing doesn't allow you to discredit others. I can show you a screenshot of my battery stats if you need proof.
  • Any phone? Ha, I have Moto G6 Play 4000mah battery that goes from early morning to late night with all day social media gameplay and music playing, constant use and it still has battery life the next day on one charge. That's a fact Jack, true story.
  • Fine. I stand corrected. But with much bigger battery, and much less powerful SD 427.
  • There's something bad on your phone, an XL level phone and you hardly get 4 hours SOT?
  • I am using Pixel 2(smaller one) from it's launch as my daily driver and can very well say that battery life 'would' have been improved marginally but nothing earth shattering after the update.
    But i can agree it would make sense for Pixel 2XL's already good battery backup.
  • You guys would be surprised at how software can make a difference in battery life. I've seen it a number of times over the years as an engineer who tested mobile devices. The most recent example for me was the HTC U11. Battery was OK on the initial release, then it got bad under Oreo, and after complaints came in, HTC rolled out an update that made battery life amazing.
    Raise your hand if you can get five days on one charge and actually use your phone. Nobody?
    Ok then, raise your hand if you can get two full days of normal use without powersave. Ok, there's a few of you.
    I can raise my had to both of those with the U11, and get two days of normal use, three days of not being careless use, and five days if I'm careful. That's 120 hours of run time on a single charge, and it had another 10 hours to spare when I took the screenshot below https://photos.app.goo.gl/Z95DQ8nWXHan5hD96 So, I guess it's safe to say Google is enjoying those HTC engineers?
  • Agree with you on the software front. Great software can do amazing things to manage resources properly, without question. I'm a little surprised Jerry didn't highlight the fact that the Adaptive Battery project was a collaboration with DeepMind. It's a powerful piece of AI, that was just kind of gleaned over in the article. https://deepmind.com/blog/deepmind-meet-android/
  • You are correct mostly. I'm 49 and have had smart phones since the begining. Well, when they became main stream and affordable. Every new Google update in my experience has extended battery life.
  • Are you kidding me?? Battery life of my Pixel 2 has halved since I've got Pie 🙄
    Doesn't even last half a day
  • Factory reset. Sorry
  • Sorry to hear that you are having problems, but glad to hear that I'm not the only one. I've got the Pixel 2 XL and from 100 percent to shutting itself down is 4 hours. With battery saver on. Not only that, it will not push notifications, the screen and fingerprint scanner are unresponsive, it takes five trys to unlock the phone. I don't know about you but I didn't pay a $1000 to have this crap happen.
  • That's been my experience as well. My battery drain is much worse after Pie. It is very upsetting.
  • We each have different experience buuuut....my battery life is worse with the pie update probably my biggest complaint not to mention the quick charge is broken... So yeah mixed bag. Pixel xl 2 always previously rooted about to go down that rabbit hole once again!
  • Always clear cache partition.
  • No way 3 day battery life! Let it sit untouched and it might get to 36 hours!
  • You think the low end specs have anything to do with the Key2 battery life?
  • Making calls all day I noticed very little difference in battery but to Googles credit everything I read was about app usage and apis not radios and driver improvements. I am also using Google fi and constantly switch from wifi calls to bad cell service.
  • In a completely anecdotal, non-scientific observation, I can say with ease that this is the best battery life I've ever gotten out of a smartphone. Full stop.
    As a HEAVY daily user and app installer, I was constantly tied to being near an outlet every single day. (I completely recognize that both those issues are personal choice, and verge on 'its your own fault' mismanagement. But, it's the way I use.)
    I'm constantly amazed at how little I have to be charging on Pie. At how if I fall asleep with an almost-dead phone, it's ok, because it'll still be on and my alarm will still go off. At how I don't have to charge in the middle of the day to make it through the night.
  • I find it ironic that Jerry crapped all over Huawei a couple of weeks ago for using the same algorithm. I'm calling BS to this whole article. There's no way in hell you're getting 3 days with 7 hours of SOT.
  • I swear Pie makes my Pixel 2 XL's battery life worse. Only with the latest and official version, though. Battery life on the beta was great.
  • I can't speak to the beta, as I never tried it. But, although my 2016 Pixel seems more snappy, battery life seems worse for me as well, especially during idle time. I'll wake up and the phone has drained a significant chunk whereas before it would hardly drain at all.
  • I'm finding the same thing. On the beta if I put my phone down at night, in the morning it would still be at 100%, or 99. Since the official release, even after a factory reset, it loses about 5%. So much for doze etc
  • I have Pixel 2 for about 11 months. Now, with Pie i have 4h SoT with LTE and 5-5,5h with WiFi. With Oreo i had about 1 hour more in both cases. Dunno how it is possible to have 7h SoT with Pixel 2. Me and all of my friends in Poland, we have the same results as I wrote in the first sentence.
  • I wondwe how much this will help Huawei's already unbelievable battery life.
  • 9 has been kind of weird on my Pixel XL.... Battery will sometimes lose 10-15% overnight while shut off when I boot up the next morning....probably a bug...
  • My Pixel 2 battery life on Pie is nearly two days. I don't use Facebook or Instagram type apps so it's possible my battery might only last a day if i did.
  • I have the first Pixel (smaller of the two) and prior to Android pie update I had great battery life. Since the update I have to charge it at least once during the day and also overnight. Any suggestions as to how to get 3 days or of my battery would be greatly appreciated.
  • I'm having a similar issue with my OG XL. My battery used to last all day. Now I'm lucky to make it through lunch without plugging in. I suppose the upgrade could happen to coincide with the natural battery drop-off on my almost two year old phone, but it seems very sudden.
  • This is off point but it's really been bugging me. Isn't Google breaking any competition law concerning its selling phones that are always the first to have the latest version of Android? (Which said version comes from...... Google). Somebody please enlighten me.
  • There's nothing to prevent others from coming to market first. The update to Pie hit Essential phones before it hit Pixel 2, 2 XL
  • I own a normal Pixel 2 and didn't see any kind of improvement with Pie, to be honest. And don't understand how you get 3 days of battery life, Jerry.
    Cheers
  • Maybe it's my brightness, maybe it's screen saturated colors....dunno, but my today's SoT with only Wifi is 5,5h:
    https://imgur.com/YQPwMZv https://imgur.com/Dp0BrZH
  • I'd love my Pixel 2 XL on Pie to be usable enough to give a **** about battery life. Just received a refurb two days ago and it has all the lag and camera issues that my original had once updated to pie. Hopefully the September update fixes a lot of these
  • As it is on Oreo 8.0, the XZ1 Compact gets excellent battery life. Hurry up November!
  • My Note 9's 4000ma battery fixed my battery life!
  • Me too! Lovin' it!🔋⚡😎
  • I'm going to have to say that battery life is noticeably worse on my P2XL since the Pie update. I'm not sure, but I think screen brightness may be partly to blame. The screen seems to be dimmer at any given setting than before the update. I used to keep the brightness setting at approx 1/2 all the time, but now even 3/4 seems very dim. I'm having to keep it at about 7/8 now most of the time. I tried the adaptive brightness but absolutely hated it, as I could be sitting stationary in stable lighting conditions and literally watch the screen get dimmer and brighter! I like a lot of the new features that Pie brought, but those two issues, along with the stupid permanent clock at the top left, have me less than warm and fuzzy about the latest and greatest version for the Google machine.
  • Unfortunately I had to turn adaptive battery off. Their are apps I mainly use for daily/timed notifications. Since I hardly ever open the apps, I just read the notification and swipe it, adaptive battery deemed the app not important. Delaying notifications by a few hours to not even showing them. I have a routine and adaptive battery can't accept it. So until I can 'whitelist' apps, it's off. Good thing my Pixel 1 XL lasts all day still without it.
  • You CAN 'whitelist' apps in Pie, which should hopefully help or resolve your issue. First open the "App Info" for said app you want to whitelist. Select "Battery", then select "Battery Optimization". Configure any apps you don't want automatically closed or paused by Adaptive Battery to "Not Optimized". Has worked great in my experience with a couple apps I needed running all the time and not be tampered with. Good luck!
  • Doesn't work. Adaptive Battery doesn't take that into consideration. Take for instance my Android Wear app. It is "Not Optimized" because I want my phone to give updated information to my watch. Way too many times I'd look at the weather on my watch and it'd say 72 degrees. When at 1pm when I'm looking at it and melting in the sun, I look at my phone and it says 89 degrees (feels like 96). So I'd have to OPEN the Wear app on my phone so my watch could update. I'm not going to open the Wear app every day multiple times a day so Adaptive Battery could learn to leave it alone to do its magic. That's just retarded. There is no true way to 'Whitelist' apps yet.
  • Double the life..really?🤔 What a dope. This is just another half baked, half tested if at all, bandwagon article. Geez, YES, I will talk until blue in the face. Smaller batteries don't last as long as bigger batteries given they are running all the same variables, specs, hardware, etc..I don't care how badly you you want others to believe in some magical super optimization jargon. Hey, the display is what sucks a lot of that juice out, so YES, It does matter about display settings as well as the type of display and how many pixels your pushing. These are just the main factors. Garbage like this article is what misleads folks and builds false hype or perception on expectations. You should be ashamed...🙄
  • Why the hail does anybody need TWO phones???
  • I have a Pixel 2 XL that I bought and an iPhone 8 Plus that work gave me. He also said he uses his Pixel as a test phone to install random stuff. The Pixel camera is reason enough alone IMHO. Everyone's situation is different.
  • I would at least change the title, because Pixel 2 is definitely not Pixel 1st gen, on which battery life has been halfed... I really like Pie, but battery life.
  • On my first gen pixel the battery life got two times better but I might just feel that way since I was using alot of substratum on Oreo which would drain the battery so fast now I can get at least one day of battery without worrying
  • Yeah, this article is ridiculous. Before the update, my battery easily lasted all day. After the update, it only lasts a few hours and randomly turns up my backlight even when i turn it back down. This is the opposite of a battery saving update and i want Android 8 back.
  • Battery was my biggest issue on Oreo for me as well couldn't last even half a day with 5 hours of screen usage sometimes even having it just in the bag on standby for half a day would drain it's battery to 50% now I can actually go somewhere without worrying about cables and powerbanks
  • My BlackBerry Motion (with Oreo, a 4,000 mAh battery and BlackBerry's 'Power Centre' battery management app) lasts me 2 days most of the time! I wonder how Android Pie would improve it further? Given the article's claim of doubling batter life, should I expect up to 4 days?!?!?!
  • Unfortunately my experience with Pie has been quite the opposite with battery life. I am one of the unfortunate many who are experiencing a massively quicker battery drain each day due to the update on my Pixel 2 (non XL model). If I'm using my phone at all, I'm getting only a few hours (2-3) before I'm out of juice. This issue has been well documented, now I'm just hoping Google can fix it soon! It really sucks.
  • I'm actually getting pretty terrible battery life on my Pixel 2 XL since the Pie update. And not to mention horrible Bluetooth stability and obnoxiously slow opening camera. I loved the phone when I got it last Nov. so I'm going to give a hard reset a try (which sucks). Warranty claim if that doesn't help.
  • I agree my pixel XL is worse since pie
  • But they broke the LED notifications on Pixel2
  • My Battery life on my OP ( original Pixel XL)
    Has been fantastic! Like OMG fantastic.
  • My experience with Android P on the Pixel (1) is that it is garbage. Popping the keyboard up to type can take a solid second to respond to your input. Going to the home screen, same thing. There are all kinds of problems with speed. Then you say battery life has improved? I can go to work, throw my phone on my desk and not even look at it. When I pick it up at lunch, it's over 50% discharged without even using it. The battery life was great when I first got the phone, but with each update its been hit harder and harder and now it's just about trash. Samsungs irritated me because their charge ports were always failing and updates were rolled out too slowly but it may be time to give them another shot now that they're on USB C...
  • You only use your phone 7 hours in 3 days? Just over 2 hours a day? Strange usage, especially for a tech writer.
    About the story, I've wondered for around a decade now, when will users get sick of the crap battery life? Why doesn't one company make a phone that's a quarter inch thicker so they can double the size of their battery? I haven't had a phone that would last from waking up, until bed time without a charge since I've owned a touch screen. This world where 12 hours is excellent, and being able to drain 100% of a battery with a couple hours of browsing the net, really shouldn't suffice as the norm.
  • You must be young. Battery life is great compared to 10 years ago or even 3 years ago.
  • Mine seems to be about the same as it was, maybe slightly better. However I do not have good signal at work. Sometimes I'm bouncing between 3G and 1X so I know that doesn't help. I also have to check my phone all throughout the day for work but it at least will last all day in my case.
  • My Pixel battery life has only decreased since I upgraded to Pie. I can't even make it 8 hours whereas I had no issues reaching 12 hours.
  • Never had a battery life issue with my standard Pixel 2. The only thing that consumed a heavy amount of battery was the hotspot. That being said, the notifications I receive about how long I have left until I need to charge are handy. A minor issue I have (and it's a pet peeve, I apologise in advance) with this review is the lack of spaces between commas. Made it a bit grating to read for me.
  • Mine actually seems to run hotter.
  • My biggest problem is my phone seems to be losing more and more power as the years pass...Is that common?
  • I have a Samsung 6 and I love my phone, but as it's getting older it seems to be losing battery life faster. Do I really need to upgrade? I would hate to..
  • Android pie 🥧 has been beyond amazing for me. I just put my Google Pixel in airplane mode 24/7 and set the screen as dim as possible for when I accidentally turn on my phone and I'm now getting 3 days of battery life. Couldn't possibly ask for better.
  • Lol
  • You made my day. Still laughing my ass out. Thanks indeed. I'm lucky if I get more than 4hrs on pixel 1
  • Pie has made my battery life worse! Why is there no battery save feature for location? I have to plug in my pixel XL every night and again 1 or two times a day with use. I don't know maybe if I didn't use my phone at all it would last longer?
  • My essential phone on Oreo gave me 6.5 to 7.5 hours SOT on average. With Android Pie and adaptive battery turned on, for the first week, I only got around 5 to 5.5 hours. But thus thing really did kick in around five to six days in - I get 8 to 8.5 hours SOT easy now. Excellent job by Google and essential. The only thing this Phone lacks is an AMOLED screen - perfect apart from that - 5.8 inch screen in an iPhone 6 sized frame and still the tiniest notch across all phones
  • Honestly, my battery life has dropped off a cliff with the Pie update!
    I was getting 2 to 2.5 dates on Oreo on my Nokia 7+, but I'm not getting a full day now even trying to cut down a little on usage.
    Don't ask me what my screen-on-time is or anything else like that, the point is, I've dropped back a bit on the usage compared to Oreo and I'm still getting less than half the usage time.