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Top tips for saving battery life on the Samsung Galaxy S5

How to get better Galaxy S5 battery life

One of the top questions we'll get this year regards Samsung Galaxy S5 battery life. Simply put, you just can't get enough. We hear you. In fact, there are those who will do anything and everything to eke out every last ounce of battery life from their Galaxy S5. Every last mAh. Every last minute. One more tweet. One last selfie.

We get you. Battery life is of top importance with your Galaxy S5.

Whether you're new to smartphones in general or the Galaxy S5 in particular, there are a few tips and tricks you can learn to get the best battery life from your GS5. Some of them are applicable to other smartphones. Some will be specific to the Samsung Galaxy S5. And all are worth reviewing. These are meant for the sort of user who isn't into hacking his or her phone. We're not talking custom kernels or ROMs here. Just everyday tips anyone can apply to their Galaxy S5.

So let's take a look at some of our favorite Galaxy S5 battery life tips and tricks. When you're done, be sure to swing by our Galaxy S5 forums and see how other folks are improving their battery life. And hit up this page for more Galaxy S5 help.

1. Turn down your display brightness to save battery life

Galaxy S5 display brightness

Look, if there's one thing that's going to eat up the battery life on your Galaxy S5, it's the display. These phones push lots of pixels — a couple million of them, actually — and a bright display will drain your battery quicker than just about anything. So at the very least, consider turning down your display as low as you can stand it.

Or, better yet, let the phone handle the brightness. It'll adjust things for you so you don't have to worry about it.

Also consider using the "Auto adjust screen tone" option, which Samsung says will save on your Galaxy S5's battery life by adjusting the brightness based on what's actually showing on the display. Pretty cool.

2. If you have good Wifi, use it!

Samsung Galaxy S5 wifi

This is something we take for granted these days. But if you have the ability to use a good, solid Wifi connection, you should use it. This is especially true if you live in an area that has bad cellular connection. Or if you live or work in a bunker. Or a densely populated area. Or are at an event with a lot of other people.

Like a bright display, a bad cellular connection can be murder on your battery life. Ever wonder why it's getting hot in your pocket even when you're not using it? A bad connection could well be the case.

So do your Galaxy S5 — and your battery life — a favor. If you have good Wifi, use it.

3. And if you're on a bad network, get off it!

Galaxy S5 networks

There's nothing more painful than having to hear the woeful tales of someone who hates their operator. We subscribe to what's known as the "90 percent rule." That is, you need to have a good connection 90 percent of the time, wherever you are. Wifi may well be able to take care of that. If so, great!

But a good percentage of folks can't be on Wifi all day. So it comes down to your operator (by which we mean the likes of Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, AT&T and the like, here in the U.S.) needing to be able to provide the service for which you're paying your hard-earned money. If your operator can't give you good service 90 percent of the time you need it — again, at home or at the office, it doesn't matter whcih — then you should consider switching operators.

Again, a bad cellular connection means you're wasting two things: Battery life, and dollars.

4. Check your display timeout

Galaxy S5 display timeout

This is one Galaxy S5 battery life tip you might not have already known. There's a timer attached to your display. As soon as you stop touching the phone or otherwise using it, the timer kicks in, telling the phone when to turn off the display. Some apps can override this, of course. You can't have your phone going dark when you're in the middle of a game or movie.

But any time your phone's display is off is that much more time you can use the phone later. Typically screen timeouts are set at 30 seconds, but we've seen some set even longer by default. On your Galaxy S5, you can set the timeout to as low as 15 seconds.

Give it a try. You might be surprised at how much it saves on your batter life without being an annoyance.

5. Check your GPS accuracy mode

Galaxy S5 location settings

Fun fact: There's more than one way for your phone to know where you are. Back in the day it was a bit more binary. Either you fired up GPS to find your location, or you didn't. Assisted GPS (aka aGPS) would help with that some, using your operator's network to get a quicker fix on the GPS satellites. But GPS can still be a bit harsh on battery life.

But in the past few years, mobile operating systems have learned to use nearby Wifi locations to estimate where you are, and at a much lower power level. And you don't even have to be connected to a Wifi access point for it to work. There a Starbucks nearby? If the Wifi location is known, then an app (say, Google Maps) can find your relative location, without having to fire up the GPS receiver.

You have control over this, of course. The first is in your location settings. On your Galaxy S5, go to Settings>Network connections>Location, then tap on "Mode." Here you'll be able to choose from "GPS only," "Power saving" and "High accuracy." The first is pretty-self explanatory. It uses GPS. Power saving uses nearby Wifi access points and mobile networks to figure out where you are. And High accuracy uses all of the above to be a precise as possible.

If you're still worried about your phone sniffing around even when Wifi is turned off (and this isn't necessarily a bad thing), go to Settings>Wifi>Advanced and uncheck "Always allow scanning. That'll keep Google's location services from listening in for any of those location helpers.

6. Use a wearable for notifications

Galaxy S5 wearables

Have we mentioned that your display uses a lot of battery? Another option you might want to explore is wearables. And the Galaxy S5 has three good ones at its immediate disposal — the Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo and Gear 2. Each of these can display notifications, keeping your phone's display dark, and saving you from turning it on just to learn that an unwanted email or Facebook notification has come in.

Trust us, this can save on your sanity as well as with your Galaxy S5 battery life.

Another great option is the Pebble smartwatch. (You can find more suggestions at Smartwatch Fans.)

7. Cut back on your tethering

Galaxy S5 tethering

We get it. Tethering is fun and easy. Suddenly your unconnected tablet or laptop is sucking down the MBs, flirting with the GBs, watching cat GIFs faster than ever. It's great.

And it's tough on your battery. (To say nothing of your data plan.)

If you're the type that tethers a lot and then wonders where your battery's run off to, maybe try cutting back. Again, Wifi is your friend.

8. Use your Galaxy S5 power-saving mode

Galaxy S5 Ultra Power Saving Mode

The Galaxy S5 isn't the first to sport a power-saving mode. Not by a long shot. But Samung's implementation is excellent. In fact, you've got a couple options from which to choose.

The plain-old "Power saving mode" has a few options. You can opt to let it restrict background data, meaning you'll have to refresh your email and Twitter and Facebook and all that manually. Kind of like how it was done in the olden days. There's also an option to limit performance, such as turning off GPS and the backlit keys and lowering the screen frame rate, as well as governing the phone's processor.

You can choose whether to start this mode manually, or have the phone do it automatically.

And then there's the big daddy — Ultra power saving mode. In addition to turning everything to grayscale (no more fancy colors, and this is also available in the simpler power-saving mode), this basically turns your smartphone into a dumb phone. You'll be limited to just a handful of applications, and Wifi and Bluetooth are disconnected. (You can get them back in settings.) By default you get Phone, Messages and Internet (Samsung's browser), with the option to add three more apps to the specialized home screen. (Those additional apps are Calculator, ChatON, clock, Facebook, Google+, Memo, Twitter and Voice Recorder.)

9. Check for rogue apps

Sometimes your apps can get out of control. This is less of an issue than it used to, and Android does a pretty good job of managing things its own. But you think you know better. You think you know which processes are important, which ones are running too long, too often, and you think you know a good wakelock from a bad. Fine.

Go to Settings>Battery to see just how long your phone's been on battery, and what's been using the battery. If you see an app using a large percentage of battery but it's not an app you're using, it's possible that it's gone rogue and is eating things up in the background. It's tempting to worry about all the Android processes as well, but, again, we'd recommend letting the Android system itself worry about this.

That said ...

10. If all else fails, reboot or reset

Galaxy S5 reboot/restart

Sometimes there are ghosts in the machine. And to get them out, you might just need to reboot. Just hold down the power button until you see the option to shut down or reboot. Then, shut down or reboot. That should clear out any rogue processes or stuck applications. This isn't a frequent issue these days — Android has gotten very good — but it's still a final option for cleaning things up.

For a true act of last resort, there's the nuclear option. You can factory reset your phone, wiping out all the apps and downloads and anything else that might have clunked up your phone. Or course, that'll also kill your pictures and videos and anything else saved to the phone, so be sure to back up first. (And don't forget your contacts, if they're not stored in the cloud.)

Sometimes, that's what it takes. Fortunately, it's a pretty rare necessity.

48 Comments
  • These are great tips Phil! And most carry over for any android phone. I like my brightness at 50%/auto and I think GPS Battery Saving mode is a great addition to KitKat. Sounds like the battery life for the S5 isn't stellar but with the right tweaks I bet it can be pretty good.
    Also could the s-view case be another battery saver? Not powering on the whole screen when notifications pop in and checking the time.
    ಠ益ಠ
  • Not stellar? I've been getting 7 hours of on screen time, with a mix of video streaming and browsing. It beats the Note series thus far. Posted via Android Central App
  • Absolutely agree. Honestly I'm surprised the battery life isn't getting more praise. Posted via Android Central App
  • So what's your secret? Mine spends most of the day on Wifi and I'm lucky to get three hours screen on time
  • I get great battery life.
  • I think you are wrong, but will hold out for the next month for real world testing. If the One is decent, the S5 has to at least be on par Posted via Android Central App
  • Yea, I usually get about 4 and half hours of on screen time. My battery usually last about 10 hours and I'm a pretty heavy user. Posted via Android Central App
  • what is kitkat
  • These tips pretty much hold true for most phones, thanks Phil Posted via Android Central App
  • Wi-Fi.
  • It's good for people that don't know but these aren't really S5 specific, they are more general tips for battery usage
  • I want to see some Cat Gifs!
  • I just buy the spare battery and it if phone charger from Samsung. The last 2 phones I've registered with them they gave me a 50 percent off 50 or lessOn accessories. Comes to about 28 bucks with shipping. No battery problems at all, I leave it wide open!
  • The S5 gives me the best battery life of any phone I have ever owned. I get around 7 hours of on screen time with a mix of video streaming and browsing. The most I got on the S4 was a little over 4, Note 2 was about 6. Posted via Android Central App
  • 7 hrs of f screen on is amazing if true I'm getting 5- 5.5 with my G2 and I thought that was awesome. Posted via Android Central App
  • It's true. You can get that no problem. And I'm always in heavy use of my phone. Posted via Android Central App
  • That's interesting since the S5 ranks behind the G2 in every category on the GSM Arena battery tests. I wonder if their testing scenarios don't use the best settings... Posted via Android Central App
  • If they run their test with the screen on full brightness, or disabling the CPU scaling or something like that, it could definitely make a huge difference. I can't really comment, as I'm not familiar with GSM Arena's battery tests, but there are lots of tiny changes that can end up making a big difference. Also, I'm not sure about the G2 screen, but with AMOLED, you'll get better battery if you're viewing a darker image more frequently. With an LCD, power usage is pretty flat, regardless of what you're viewing. With OLED, watching a video on the arctic will use *far* more power than watching a video about space.
  • Why must websites add in the paginated articles? I do NOT want to click next to view the next tip. I know this drives more ad traffic your way Phil, but do the end users some justice and list in in one long vertical list like normal people.
  • THIS!!!!
  • Never seen that, maybe it is me. The app doesn't do it Posted via Android Central App
  • +10000000 These kind of articles should be boycoted anywhere everywhere. Posted via Android Central App
  • I actually specifically did not click on the "next" links for this reason even though I was curious about the content. AC- please please do not go down this route, it's a terrible experience for readers.
  • So click on the button that looks like a page and have all the content on one giant page :) The choice is yours but it's a bit harsh to go ballistic when you're given the choice.
  • I actually don't mind it. It's not like Bing where they give you some vague idea of what you're looking at and then make you click a link to a Bing search to get the rest of the story.
  • My GS5 battery I sent that great..,what gives? Posted via Android Central App
  • The article says Power Saving Mode can be enabled automatically. Can anyone share how to do this?
  • Buy some extra batteries off Ebay with a separate wall plug battery charger. Forget saving battery and laugh at people who are stuck with built in batteries.
  • Lol +1,
    Just because Posted via Android Central App
  • I'd rather have a phone that can last a day and a half to 2 days on a built in battery than have to swap batteries half way through the day. I laugh at people who have to do THAT.
  • And exactly which factory phone can do that?
  • My G2 does. I have yet to have it die in one day.
  • You should try turning it on and using it once in a while, then
  • Droid Razr Maxx HD?
  • Or if you want to avoid the crappy chinese knockoffs you want to get this http://www.amazon.com/Samsung-Galaxy-S5-Replacement-Hi-Capacity/dp/B00KF... Better and cheaper than original OEM Samesong
  • LOL this is pathetic. I've got a tip: Buy the superior HTC One M8! Hell, even get the HTC One M7...still better than this Samsung trash.
  • Yeah, that way you get a smaller battery that you don't have the option to replace. Every phone eats battery life, the M7 is no different, and most of these tips apply to it as well.
  • I had my iPhone 3GS for 3 years, never had to replace the battery. My HTC One (M7) is as good as the day I purchased it over a year ago. If you need to replace your battery...you're doing it wrong.
  • Or, maybe we actually use our phones...and have friends to talk to.
  • I did two test runs since I got my S5.
    The first gave me 27 Hours. Then I just got 33 hours yesterday. That ultra power saving mode is serious. Could have gotten way more too. Posted via Android Central App
  • Thanks dear Phil.
  • If you're tethering a laptop, you really should plug you phone into a USB port, and let that big laptop battery keep your phone going. Not doing so demonstrates a severe lack of thought. And I'm not quite sure I understand why gray scale saves power. To create a white (or gray) pxel the phone needs to light red, blue and green LEDs. A monochromatic red (or green, or blue) display should be much more efficient, as it leaves many more LEDs turned off.
  • That's good, but I discovered something else that helps save battery is changing the Mobile Data Network (LTE, 4G, 3G, E) depending on what you use your internet for. Me for example, I don't use those data hungry apps like Facebook and instagram, etc. I just use ,my email, mostly. So what I did is switched my S5's data network from 4GLTE to GSM.
    I think since LTE is a way faster Data network it uses more battery than GSM's edge network which is much slower, but just enough to get what I want done. It works for me but I may be wrong, feel free to correct me if necessary. But I've observed this on My S5 as well as my previous Android phone.
  • The gear 2, the gear 2 and the gear 2.
  • Don't really understand the crazynesss over battery cases. They are fat and adds alot of thickness and makes the slim galaxy s5 ugly + the phone is not longer waterproof!! I just got an awesome batterypack (2 batteries + USB enabled wall charger) http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00KF2TFRC?tag=hawk-future-20&ascsubtag... I never run out of battery. These batteries are better than the original Samsung OEM batteries in every aspect I can think of and half the price. Whenever im out of juice I just plug one of the Volutz Supremacy series batteries and instantly im on 100% with none of the extra weight a battery case gives and without breaking the water proof seal of my S5. my2cents
  • I have the galaxy s5 and lately I havent been able to use Power Saving Mode. It was working before but now when I try to turn it on, it says to turn on at least one fucntion first. What does this mean and how can I get power saving mode to work again? Thanks.
  • I haven't thought about the power saver of GS5 since I've got mine. This is really helpful aside from having a power bank or something to add power.
  • for my lenovo Li Ion battery max chraging level is 60% which extends batterly life...so does this apply to galaxy S5 Li ion battery??