Many people often disable GPS on their phones to try and save power. While this does work, it’s not for the reason you might think. You might assume that the phone is turning off the GPS hardware. However, the GPS hardware never turns off; it’s always on so it can be used by 911 and some Google location services.

Enabling/disabling GPS in Android is really a permission setting. What’s happening is your blocking apps from being allowed to access the device’s location. Since apps can’t access the location, GPS isn’t being used and needing the extra power.

So how can you leave GPS on and save power? Simply find what apps are using GPS in the background and disable those that don’t need it. Let’s discuss an easy way to do this.

Finding the battery hogs

First we need to find out what apps are accessing your location and draining power. Baked right into Android is a couple of tools to help you with this.


device-location-settingsLocation Settings

First, you can see which apps are requesting your device’s location often. Go to your phone’s Settings -> Location.  You’ll see a list of apps that have accessed your location recently. The list is ordered by the most recent location requests first. So if something is requesting your location a lot, it will be at the top. It will also tell you the impact it has on your battery. If anything is showing as High battery use, or is near the top of the list it may be the culprit.


Battery Settingsdevice-battery-settings

Now check out the battery settings in Settings -> Battery. This will show you the battery impact for all apps on your phone, not just ones that are accessing your location. Look for the apps you saw on the Location menu and see the overall impact they might be having compared to other apps. I bet you will see some of those apps towards the top of this list.


Shutting them down

Now that you know what apps are causing the battery drain we need to stop them. Each app should have its own settings regarding how it uses your location. Some may allow you to prevent location tracking in the background, while others require you to disable location access altogether. There are some apps that have no options for how it handles your location.

If you have Android 6.0 or newer there is a better way, and it works for all apps. Go into your phone’s system menus again. This time go to the App menu. Here you will see a list of all installed apps. Tap on the app your looking to disable location access for. Then tap the Permissions section. Here you have fine grain control over what the app has access to. You can disable the app’s ability to access your location here.


Still having problems?

If you have a lot of apps that need to have access to your location all the time, you may want to use Android’s “Battery saving” mode instead of the “High accuracy”. You can turn “Battery Saver” on from within the Settings -> Battery menu. This will limit apps to only being able to use Wifi, Bluetooth, or network locations. These location settings are not as accurate especially if your trying to get an exact location, like tracking your phone with Where’s My Droid.


Other tools

If you still need more options for saving power here are a couple of good tools to download:

CM Battery Doctor


DU Battery Saver

IMPORTANT: If you like either of these tools and chose to keep them on your phone, be sure to add Where’s My Droid to their excluded list. Otherwise they will prevent Where’s My Droid from finding your phone.