General Software and Sytem Fixes

Samsung Galaxy Note Poor Battery Life on Ice Cream Sandwich

Submitted by Derwent Ready on Sunday, 10 June 2012

Samsung Releases An Update

Samsung finally managed to release their custom version of Android 4.0, code named Ice Cream Sandwich for their Galaxy Note phone, a couple of months after their estimated original relase date. When I bought my Samsung Galaxy Note back in March it was with the idea that it would shortly receive an all new version of the OS with even more optimisations for their Wacom-based S-Pen.

My Battery Life Takes a Nose Dive

When I finally got the OTA update on the 1st of June, I was eager to update the phone but a combination of two busy days and a low battery meant that my phone ran out of power 3 times as I tried to charge it between stops on the road. I eventually managed to get the update installed and all seemed well, with a nice new, cleaner interface. That is, until I noticed that after just 14 hours of uptime and almost no use my phone was already down to 38% percent. It seemed the new OS, that had kept most of my settings (including power settings) had reduced the battery life from around 2-2.5 days to less than 24 hours. Please note that I'm hardly a very active phone user and even under relatively very heavy usage my phone was able to hold its charge for at least a day before the update.

Possible Solutions

Initially I thought that I might have ruined the battery, less than 2 months after I got the phone but it seemed too conincidental so I had a look on Google and found not only a large number of Galaxy Note owners suffering poor battery life since the upgrade, even those who'd upgraded using less official ROMs but users of other ICS enabled phones. Several forums suggested things like turning the phone on before unplugging from a charger to trick the OS into using a different power scheme or trying to replace the battery while the charger was plugged in. These all seemed like rather ineffective, temporary fixes, most having to be performed every time the phone was charged.

A few people suggested performing a factory reset, something I'd already considered. I decided to give this a go. Having had the chance to upgrade someone's phone from brand new last week and seeing that their upgrade process ws significantly different to what I'd experienced with mine and someone else's phone, both of which had been used quite a bit confirmed that something must have broken in the update trying to preserve my existing data or settings.

The Solution - Factory Reset

So. If you're suffering from a similar battery related problem after upgrading to ICS and fancy trying to fix this with a factory reset, continue reading.

There are a couple of things you need in order to backup your phone entirely. Google now offers a backup of all your apps, wifi settings and similar, activated in the system settings under backup and restore. Interestingly, this is also where you perform a factory reset. An additional line of backup is to use SMS Backup+ which links to your GMail account and sends a copy of your call log and SMS/MMS messages to labels in your account. I've always used SMS Backup+ since I got my HTC Hero back in 2010 but forgot to link it to my account on the Note and when I actually performed the factory reset I lost my call log and SMSs, something I'm slightly annoyed about but never mind.

Results and Conclusion

I actually performed the factory reset last night and so far today the battery life seems remarkably improved. It's still too early to tell if the battery life is as good as it was before the upgrade to ICS but since unplugging the phone at 9 this morning to now, some 8.5 hours later I've only used 21% of my battery, averaging about 2% an hour when the phone is idling and about 1% every 5 minutes when in actual, low power use (no games). This isn't quite fair as on most days since the upgrade I've averaged about 20 minutes of play a day so we'll have to see what playing games will do to that average but at least from a light usage point of view the phone is back to about what it was before, looking at about a 2 day charge cycle rather than less than a day.


One major complaint I have is that both the upgrade and the factory reset completely erased my custom desktop layouts, something I'd spent a great deal of time tweaking to give me the quickest access to apps and widgets. It would be nice if you could somehow use the Google backup tool or an app that saves phone-specific desktop data to the SD card so that you can backup them to how they were quickly and easily.

Another small complaint is that Samsung's S-Note app seems to only let you save notes to the phone's internal memory which gets wiped with a factory reset (not with the upgrade) and as such I lost the few doodles I'd done. Bear in mind, however, that Samsung seems to be targetting this phone at professionals who may take notes in meetings/make quick designs for clients and similar things like that and given this target audience it seems a slight oversight for you to only be able to backup or keep the notes after a factory restore by emailing or dropboxing the files to yourself rather than just being able to offload them safely to the microSD card.

Update: Over 13 hours since I unplugged it this morning and it's still only dropped to 69% with a bit of a pickup in usage. It looks like the battery problems have been solved.

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