Maximize the HTC Thunderbolt Battery

If you saw our HTC Thunderbolt review video a few days ago you’ve likely already noted that one of the weakest points of this device is its pitiful battery life. Sporting a slightly dissapointing 1400mAh battery, it’s no surprise that the Thunderbolt’s 4.3” screen, 1GHz processor, 4G connectivity and other high end hardware and software leave you carrying your charger with you for extended trips. Today we’ll show you how to maximize your shiny new Thunderbolt’s battery life so that you can get much more than the 6-8 hours of usage I got without optimization.

Turn off 4G when not in use. Even if you don’t life in a 4G covered area, the Thunderbolt’s LTE radio is constantly searching for a 4G signal. Turning it off when it won’t be in use for long periods of time [like gaming during a car ride, etc] can really help. Here are instructions provided by Taylor from Phonedog on how to turn 4G on and off.

  • Open the dialer, dial *#*#4636#*#*
  • Select Phone information
  • Scroll down to “Set preferred network type,” select “CDMA auto (PRL)”
  • Press the back button

This is just as easily undone as it is done. To turn the LTE radio back on:

  • Dial *#*#4636#*#*
  • Select Phone information
  • Select “LTE mode”
  • Press the back button
  • Repeat the first two steps
  • Select “CDMA + LTE/EvDo auto”
  • Press the back button

Also note that you can add a this number as a contact and add a direct dial shortcut to your homescreen for one-tap access to this feature. Perhaps a future OTA update will include a 4G switch widget?

  • The Thunderbolt sports a massive 4.3” 800×480 SuperLCD screen that drains a lot of power. It is arguably the biggest battery drainer in any smartphone, Android or not. Adding a shortcut or widget to your homescreen to toggle brightness can help out a lot. Even enabling automatic brightness over full-time maximum brightness can make a difference in battery life. This tip is likely gave the most significant improvement in battery life.
  • HTC Sense 2.0 provides a section specifically for Location Settings that has a few toggles your Thunderbolt’s Google Location services, Standalone GPS services, and VZW Location services. At most you only really need one of these on [perhaps if you’re navigating or using for location] but using all 3 at once is simply a battery killer and disabling one or two can’t hurt!
  • Turning off Adobe Flash 10.2 may make you cringe but think about it – how often are you browsing a site that’s made up entirely of flash? You may do a lot of your news reading in Google reader or watch most of your online video using the stock YouTube app for Android. If you do love Flash you may want to keep this on; if you don’t however, you’ll see a boost in browsing performance, which translates into less time spent waiting for pages to load, which in the end means less CPU cycles and less battery usage.
  • Last resorts: If you still can’t get the battery life you desire after calibrating your battery and following all these tips you can try apps like Juice Defender, which attempts to disable unused settings/services to fully maximize battery life, though I found that it didn’t provide much more than a few extra minutes of usage at the cost of using up RAM in the background. You can also invest in an extended battery for the Thunderbolt; there are a few making their way around the market new that can be picked up for under $100 that nearly double the stock battery’s 1400mAh rating.
  • BONUS: Quicksettings is a free application available in the Android market that provides quick access to a lot of features mentioned in this article. A long press of the search button and you have brightness, volume control, GPS and more all at your fingertips.

I’d estimate that fully and carefully utilizing all of the first 4 tips, any heavy Thunderbolt user will notice a significant improvement in the performance of the stock battery – 2 full days of battery? No problem! *A lot of these tips will work for any Android smartphone, so feel free to use them at your own discretion. Note that nothing was said about ‘task managers’ or ‘task killers’ because of their debatable effectiveness. If you’ve noticed a battery life boost on your old phone using a task killer then by all means continue using one!

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