Samsung Epic 4G Battery Life: Fixing Excessive Battery Consumption

Do you have a Samsung Epic 4G or other Android phone? Do you have to recharge your battery daily or more than once a day even when you’re hardly doing anything with it? That’s not normal. My Samsung Epic, when lightly used, only needs to be recharged every three to four days.

“Impossible!” you say. “These are powerful phones and they use up the battery faster.” That may be true if you’re talking on the phone, watching videos and playing Angry Birds on it all day long. However, many people are having to frequently recharge their phones even under light to no usage, which should not be happening.

“You must use task killers, Juice Defender, a special kernel or some extreme tools to get that kind of battery life.” Actually, I’ve tried some, but abandoned such measures. They’re not necessary. There are many well-known ways to conserve power such as turning off services you don’t need, checking for mail less often, dimming the screen, etc. These are certainly important and should be practiced. But, there’s more.

Despite these normal power conservation techniques, when the Samsung Epic starts to drain the battery, it does so at an alarming rate. Here’s a log of the battery level at approximately ten-minute intervals that I kept when mine recently started to suck the battery dry:

62% @ 11:37 pm
61% @ 11:45 pm
59% @ 11:58 pm
57% @ 12:10 pm
56% @ 12:17 pm
55% @ 12:27 pm
52% @ 12:37 pm
51% @ 12:47 pm
50% @ 12:57 pm
49% @ 1:07 am
48% @ 1:10 am
47% @ 1:20 am
45% @ 1:36 am
44% @ 1:50 am
43% @ 2:05 am

It’s draining the battery at a rate of about 10% per hour. This is with the phone’s screen, GPS, 3G/4G data, Wi-Fi, automatic updates, Bluetooth and sound turned off. No applications were running. In fact, during this period, I had more things turned off than I usually do.

It’s been documented at the Sprint Community forum and various blogs that the Samsung Epic can go into a mode where it will continuously search for the cellular network. I have encountered this and the usual fix is to turn on airplane mode for a few seconds and then turn it off again to reset the radio. Unfortunately, I found that this fix doesn’t always work. Even shutting down the phone completely and then turning airplane mode on and off doesn’t help.

In the two cases thus far, when the simple fix for this problem didn’t work, two things did. The first was turning on airplane mode overnight. The second was turning the phone completely off overnight. Here’s a short log of battery life after the overnight fix for the sudden battery consumption I logged above:

41% @ 8:33 am
41% @ 8:44 am
41% @ 8:49 am
41% @ 9:00 am
40% @ 9:01 am
40% @ 9:10 am
40% @ 9:20 am
40% @ 9:33 am
39% @ 9:41 am

As you can see, now the phone is only consuming 1-2% per hour, rather than 1% every 10 minutes. The screen was off, but 3D data was enabled and some services that I turned off during the excessive battery usage were running again since the phone had freshly booted. So, despite having more things turned on, the phone is back to normal and will last significantly longer than the 8-10 hours that many owners of the Samsung Epic are reporting online as “normal”.

Does this fix really require turning the phone off (or putting it into airplane mode) all night? At this time, I’m not sure how long it needs to stay in the off/airplane state. It definitely needs more than a few minutes, because I’ve tried that and it’s not enough. So, it’s somewhere between a few minutes and 6.5 hours.

Have you tried this fix? How long did you have to keep your phone off or in airplane mode to get it to behave? Post your experience in the comments.

20 thoughts on “Samsung Epic 4G Battery Life: Fixing Excessive Battery Consumption”

  1. Excellent tip. I too got the update to 2.2 pushed to me via 3G when it came out via Sprint’s latest fiasco. I am experiencing exactly what you describe. I can actually see the battery level drop over several minutes if I am surfing the internet or using email. I am going to try this fix and I’ll et you know if I can confirm it. Thanx again!

  2. @Bud: Also, be sure that you don’t have any apps that are using excessive CPU or keeping the phone awake. I use the process monitor in OS Monitor and sort descending by CPU usage to see if any apps use excessive amounts or appear near the top very often.

  3. I prefer staying away from ota updates. Too many degradations can occur. Even if you have a PC, download. The update.zip for Mac and transfer to your SD card then flash to epic by powering off-then hold volume down power and camera at same time and select update.zip from menu you’ll get a clean flash and have less issues.

  4. This fix actually worked for me the first time I tried it. I just hadn’t had a chance to come back and post and update. Thanx! Unfortunately, I got a second update two mornings ago. After a brief download and a reboot I had my update. And I was back in the same exact boat! I am getting to really dislike these updates! I will try this again tonight and see what happens. I’ll come back and give you another update…

  5. @Bud: After the Froyo EC05 update, my phone has been pretty happy. I haven’t had it suddenly drain the battery anymore. In addition to good power conservation, the GPS is super fast to lock onto satellites now.

  6. I have figured out the problem with my battery life. Turn email frequency to every hour, and turn off the location feature in Settings>Locations uncheck the top 2 boxes, my battery life almost doubled….Looks like if you have that top box checked, then it will constantly search for your location using the Network, consuming your battery life…Also delete all and any unwanted Apps….look under Settings>Apps>Running Services, see if there are any apps that are constantly running, consider deleting those apps if you dont use them…

    My old phone would die after 5 hours, I fixed the above issues with my phone and I’m 12.5 hours on the new charge, and i have around 75% battery left, so Id say this should help you get a much better battery life.

  7. Good info. I recently installed the “Current Widget” to monitor the milliamps that are being provided while charging. I used 2 samsung phone models, the Samsung Epic and the Infuse. I also used 4 different USB chargers, Apple square plug, Amazon Kindle plug and the Black Samsung plugs that came with the Epic and Infuse. All plugs are rated 850-1000mAh. All 4 plugs provided 1000mAh to the Infuse while charging and 850 connected to a computer. The Samsung Epic only recieved <300 mAh with all 4 plugs and <200mAh on a computer. I could not believe what I discovered. Something is definitely wrong with the power engineering of the Epic4g. Regardless of what we do, the only fix to this problem is for Samsung to issue a firmware upgrade or just replace all the phones.

  8. @Michael: Your discovery is a different situation from this post, but is also a valid issue with the Epic 4G. It takes a long time to recharge the battery whether you plug it into the wall or a computer’s USB port, and your test reveals why. The charging circuit in the Epic draws very little current. As a result, it takes hours to complete a full charge.

  9. My Epic 4g was dying all the time, it would even die if I was charging it and using it sometimes. Last night I was charging it while sleeping and when I woke up and removed it from the wall charger, it had low battery. After reading this post I remembered I had this issue with a previous phone and my friend told me to lick the battery, which worked! I’m sure there are cleaning compounds you can use but whatever works right? So I just tried it and it worked on my Epic also, causing a jump in my battery readings. My theory is that the electrical contacts from the battery to the phone are inferior to other phones and require occasional cleansing. If I help 1 person, I’ll be happy.

    TL;DR: Lick your battery contacts.

  10. @John: That’s pretty funny. For those who may not be into licking batteries, an alternative is to use a pencil eraser to clean the metal contacts on the battery and inside the phone.

  11. I downloaded and flashed my Epic to gingerbread last week and my battery life has been worse than what it was previously… and it was bad to begin with… I’m LUCKY to make it to 2pm on a daily basis now with normal usage.

  12. So with the Gingerbread update the battery on the Epic dies faster is that what I’m reading from everyone?

  13. @Chris: Some have reported better battery life, while others have reported the opposite. My battery life didn’t change after the Gingerbread upgrade. I still get multiple days on a single charge. The key is to find and eliminate all the power wasters, regardless which version of Android is on your phone.

  14. I’ve only had a Samsung Epic 4G for a month and I CANNOT believe how pathetic the battery life is – and I barely need a phone. I text occasionally throughout the day and receive email – that’s it. If I make it 8 hours I’m literally shocked (like I said, I rarely use it at all). I don’t know what “gingerbread” is but I’ll look into it. I turn my phone off every night, so that’s not it. I’m used to THREE days of battery life with my previous Blackberry. I truly cannot believe how pathetic the battery “life” is with this phone. Any other ideas are totally welcome. I barely use the phone, I have an ap killer, and I have minimal updates noted in this forum. What in the world do people do if this is their only phone – and they actually have to USE it?!?!?!?!

  15. @Lori: Gingerbread is, as of this writing, the latest version of the Android operating system for the phone. There are other things that will affect battery life more than the version of Android you’re using. My phone uses approximately 0.5-1.0%/hour when sleeping. Occasional texting with a short phone call during a two-hour period uses about 3-4% of the battery, mostly due to the screen being on while I compose messages. Thus, I get 2-4 days from a single charge, if I let the battery run down to 20% remaining. Short battery life is usually due to the large screen and apps that are running for something or other. Remember that the Epic is a pocket-sized computer, not just a phone. It’s essentially a 1 GHz laptop with Wi-Fi, mobile data, and even a keyboard, that fits in your hand.

    The screen eats up a lot of power. Be sure to turn down your screen brightness; I turn off auto-brightness and set the screen to minimum brightness. I also set the screen timeout to 15 seconds so that it doesn’t stay on for a long time when an alert or something causes it to turn on. Bright pixels also consume more power on the Epic than dark pixels. That’s a tradeoff with AMOLED screens; superior contrast, but bright pixels use more power than dark ones. So, use a dark wallpaper and set apps to use white text on a black background, wherever possible.

    Unless you urgently need your phone to tell you when you have email, turn off auto sync and, instead, check for new email manually. See what background apps/services are running (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, instant messaging, email, weather widgets, social networking widgets) that might be keeping the phone awake. If the phone can’t sleep, it uses more power.

  16. Ive tried “juice defender” and set the thing to aggressive and nothing.
    Also tried the “advanced task killer” and set that to aggressive and auto kill every 1 hour and still nothing.
    Ive tried deleting all my unecessary apps and also went into my phone settings and tried to disable the media hub and drm content and still NOTHING!!!!! I have my wifi, gps and 4g when not necessary off but still nothing and i do have the gingerbread os 2.3 but still nothing good coming out of it.Ummm…..also the screen brightness is off of auto brightness n very dim and im actually getting very upset but what im going to try and do is master reset my phone bc at the beginning when i downloaded the “juice defender” it was working perfectly fine and was on my phone allllll day with heavy use and got about 12 hrs out of that sucker and now idk went wrong……HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. This phone is the worst phone ever! They battery doesnt even last 2 hrs!!! Im a major gamer on Armored Strike, but when i dont play i turned it off for 8 hrs and i turn it on and its 25% battery left. Then i charge and play and sometimes it dies!!!! I feel as if i need 2-3 batteries! Whats a android phone that has long lasting battery??!!