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Another day, another meltdown

July 3, 2013

Vista busy cursor  The laggy performance and rotten battery life I’ve suffered since “upgrading” to Jelly Bean 4.1.2 on my Galaxy Note GT-N7000 had been tempting me to try a backup and factory reset. There is anecdotal evidence on the Internet that resorting to this can sort out the lag, although maybe not the battery life. But all the prep is a chore – you need to find the time and there is always too much going on.

Well the decision was taken out of my hands yesterday while I was on an early morning train to London from Manchester. I had been building a spreadsheet to illustrate a talk I am due to give shortly, then needed a break and tried to watch a video podcast on the phone. Very soon the video started to flicker – lots of horizontal lines across the screen – then it died. I kept trying to reboot it and it kept working briefly but always crashing and dying. It took a while for the penny to drop that the phone was just out of power. It never occurred to me that a phone fully charged when unplugged at 6am would have drained the battery by 7:30. By then the damage was done. My repeated failed attempts at resuscitation had caused some loss of data and the phone had gone into “set up from new” mode. Another meltdown, then. It has been a while.

Once at the office in London I decided I could no longer trust the state of the phone’s data. I saved what I could to the external SD card, removed the latter and invoked the factory reset. The phone is now fine but I concluded that the battery had reached end of life – it really showed no interest at all in holding more than a minimal amount of charge, but I had bought a spare some months ago so it wasn’t much of a problem. It is odd that a battery can die quite so suddenly and with so little warning, but that does seem to be the way of it.

melting-butter

I have not really tried to get the phone back to the way it was before the battery-induced meltdown. I decided to only reinstall the apps I really use daily such as Audible, Kindle, Doggcatcher plus a few other essentials such as Evernote, Arcus Weather, my banking app and a very few others. The idea was to see whether cutting down on the numbers of apps makes a difference to performance and battery life, as is sometimes suggested.

With this in mind I kept TouchWiz for once, rather than replace with a third party launcher that is closer to stock, such as Nova. I didn’t rush to install Tasker either, but I did need a quick way to switch between:

  • “night time mode” (ringer on but text/email notifications silenced),
  • “in the office mode” (all sounds on but at a non-embarrassing volume level), and
  • “out and about mode” (everything on loud).

The Simple Sound Profile Widget did the trick quickly and easily.

I’m now running with just 31 apps (including all the Google and Samsung apps I get no choice about because they are built into the ROM) compared with around 105 before the reset. It is too early to say whether the reset and/or lean running approach have fixed the lag and battery issues. At the moment the phone seems less laggy than before, but with occasional slow app launches and overall responsiveness still not on a par with my works iPhone. Project Butter could do with a few more lashings. And the jury is still out on battery life. Maybe it’s a bit better but  the battery which I am now using never quite seemed to match the capacity of the one that came with the phone (before its sudden and premature death, obviously).

I don’t think I’m going to get a complete answer. I was blaming Jelly Bean for the deterioration in battery life, and there was a definite big change at the time of the upgrade, but with hindsight the proximity of my battery’s death may have had some effect too.


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