Written by Technology

My Nexus 5 Battery Woes

I couldn’t put a precise tome on it, but at some point in the late summer or early autumn, the battery performance of my Nexus 5 fell off a cliff.

I’m not an unreasonable phone user. My phone tends to get a bit of action on the commute to work, as I listen to some audio – music or podcasts depending on whether I’m reading – and clear through some email. I might check train times, and browse social media.

Once I’m at work, the phone tends to take a back seat, with texts and Twitter alerts making up most of its usage.

The commute home mirrors earlier on, and then it gets used less in the evenings aside from actual phone calls. I have laptops and tablets that are better suited by then.

I never had to use a charger during the day unless I’d been particularly heavy in battery usage – maybe using the phone a lot on a long train journey. But that was about it. The only reason I bought a portable battery charger was for those exceptional days when you know you’ll be hammering the phone a lot and won’t have anywhere to plug in.

But the battery performance of my Nexus 5 has utterly failed in recent weeks. I’d hoped that the rollout of Android 5.0 – Lollipop – would sort it out.

But it hasn’t. It came to the point that I couldn’t leave the house unless I was carrying both a plug-in charger (for work, coffee shops etc), and portable battery charger (for all those other times). Everything caused the power to fail.

Now I realise that battery life is heavily affected by things like the ability to get a signal. If you spend a lot of time in a poor signal area, the phone is expending a lot of power pinging those distant masts. But that’s not really a problem for me either at work or at home.

It all came to a head on Friday when I left work with a fully charged phone, and went to a two-hour film screening at the BFI. My phone was on silent in my pocket – unused of course. When I looked at it afterwards, it was at 47% – in TWO HOURS! Not only that, but the phone was pretty damn hot.

So on Saturday, I bit the bullet, and switched my SIM to a Moto G (4G) that I bought for convoluted Tour de France related reasons earlier in the year. It’s not on Lollipop yet – but that’s reportedly coming soon. The difference is that this phone is easily making it through the day. 40%+ charge left at the end of Saturday and Sunday. As I write this, it’s lunchtime, and it still has 85% charge.

In the meantime, I’m still carrying the Nexus 5 around because it has a work email account on it (which I can still use via WiFi) and various apps that I’m not moved across to the Moto G (which only has 16GB of memory – I’m getting a 32GB micro-SD card later today to sort out that problem).

But here’s the thing. Without a 4G network to worry about, the Nexus 5 is sailing through the day. It’s currently at 94% charged! And it finished both Saturday and Sunday with ~80% left.

I had been thinking about replacing the battery on the Nexus – there are YouTube videos to help you – but it seems to me that it’s not the battery that’s the problem, but the power management of the phone. Maybe there’s a fault with one of the radios? A factory reset might be another option too – I went through that painful procedure previously, and it sorted it out – for a while.

So do I?

a) Reset the Nexus and see if I can sort out the issues? It’s only just over a year old after all.
b) Stick with the Moto G and not worry about shortcomings like lack of NFC (which I do find useful), and a relatively poor camera?
c) Look to a new phone such as the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact which looks to be the best Android phone out there?

Or some combination of the above?

If Sony releases Lollipop as it has promised to do, early in 2015, then I might jump then – especially if prices come down a bit. Although I suspect that their next iteration in the Xperia range will come with the promised new camera sensor might make we wait.

I do like stock Android, and many manufacturers are only making relatively “light” changes to it, while Google’s shift towards putting big changes into apps which are under its control, makes this less of an issue.

Incidentally, I’m not switching to an iPhone for “Apple related reasons,” and I’m not getting a Nexus 6 because last time I bought a pair of gloves, my hands were size “Large” rather than XXXL.