Jelly Bean Battery Drain Traced to Google MapsJuly 13, 2013
Samsung’s official upgrade of my Galaxy Note (GT-N7000 on UK T-Mobile) to Jelly Bean 4.1.2 has not been a success, the worst aspect being the virtual halving of battery life. It had been the norm for the phone to manage a whole day on an overnight charge. After the upgrade to Jelly Bean I found myself forced to put the phone on charge throughout the afternoon or it would be dead by early evening. This annoying state of affairs has persisted for nearly three months. Happily, battery life now appears to be back to its Ice Cream Sandwich days best but it took a great deal of detective work to track down and remove the source of the power drain.
I had wondered if Google Now was implicated. After all, it is the single most obvious new feature in Jelly Bean which might be consuming more power. But I was loath to just plain do without it, and it did not appear to be the culprit per se. I tried any amount of fiddling with settings (without rooting the phone), attempting to cripple new bits of Samsung bloatware I imagined might be responsible and app/battery management apps, all to no avail. Neither did any amount of Googling or exploring the XDA Developers website produce an answer. I did though start to form the view that tracking down problem wakelocks might be the way to go.
I eventually found the problem thanks to an app called Wakelock Detector from UZUMAPPS. The app is for diagnosis only – it provides detailed stats about which apps are triggering an awakening of the CPU and how many minutes they are keeping it active using wakelocks. The accumulated data pointed an accusing finger at Google Maps. I tried delving into the Maps settings and came across a couple of suspicious items, “location reporting” and “location history” under location settings. They were both on by default. Switching them both off seems to have made all the difference.
I think these settings are new, although I can’t swear to it, and connected to Google Now. Having said that, the latter still works although maybe I’m not getting as many travel/location related cards as before. A price well worth paying.
So is it a case of all’s well that ends well? I have to say I’m not convinced. It’s certainly a relief to have my phone back to getting through the day without having to top up the battery. But there’s a certain annoyance that I had to put up with this. After all, this was an official upgrade. There must have been testing done by Google, Samsung and T-Mobile along the chain. Heaven knows it took them long enough between them to get the upgrade onto my phone. And when it got there it just appeared with no disclaimer, warning, any kind of communication. There was hype then the upgrade, then the consumer left literally to his own devices.