Increase iPhone battery life with ‘BattSaver’

BattSaver is a new jailbreak app from Xvolks — probably best known from his work on the Absinthe jailbreak tool.

He’s been cooking up his latest effort for quite some time now, and it’s received endorsements from many users, including fellow Chronic Dev Team associate, pod2g.

BattSaver touts the ability to increase the iPhone’s battery life; up to double, and at times, even more. Does BattSaver live up to these lofty claims? Check inside for the full in-depth video walkthrough and analysis…


How it works

Admittedly, I went into this walkthrough with a bit of suspicion. There’s been no shortage of so-called battery-enhancing tweaks and apps to hit Cydia in the past, and many of them were flat-out scams. But since this was developed by a reputable developer, I felt I should give it a fair shake.

The first thing you have to realize, is that BattSaver isn’t working any magic. It doesn’t promise to pull extra battery life from mid air, or by means of some unexplained phenomenon. No, BattSaver’s premise is simple: Manage the feature(s) that the drain battery life, and make them more efficient. In BattSaver’s case, the feature is the iPhone’s radio(s).

By disabling and reenabling WiFi and cellular connectivity at opportune times, BattSaver is able to eek out additional life when compared to an otherwise unoptimized experience.

BattSaver contains 3 different preset “Saving Strategies”: Normal, Aggressive, and Ultimate. In addition, there’s None (off), and Custom (a mix and match of the preset features).

  • None – No battery optimization
  • Normal – Disable radios with device
  • Aggressive – Normal, + disable data if WiFi connected
  • Ultimate – Radios must be enabled manually
  • Custom – You choose

All of the Saving Strategies (besides None) are basically a variant of Normal. Once you put your device to sleep in Normal mode, the data radios will shut off after a brief period of time, and this in turn saves battery. Once you wake up your device, the radios reconnect like normal. See? I told you it wasn’t rocket science.

But what about receiving emails and such when your device is sleep? Don’t worry, every 15 minutes the radios will wake up briefly to retrieve emails and notifications.

The Aggressive mode does the same thing as Normal mode, except it will also disable the data connection completely if WiFi is connected. The thought behind this is that you already have a valid WiFi connection, so why waste extra battery with a cellular data connection waiting as a backup? For those of you worried about phone calls and SMS messages, don’t worry, the GSM cellular radio that those services rely on is left alone. Like Normal mode, when your device is asleep, you won’t receive notifications, but instead of Normal’s 15 minute refresh period, Aggressive mode will enable your data radios every 45 minutes to retrieve emails and notifications.

The Ultimate mode is, as you may have already guessed, the most radical strategy of all. It completely disables all of your radios, and won’t automatically reconnect until you reenable them manually. My guess is that very few people will actually use this mode, unless they are desperate to get that last little drop of battery life out of their iPhone.

Beyond the basics

The Custom Saving Strategy is probably the one that most will use. It allows you to pick and choose various options instead of relying on preset strategies.

As you can see, the custom mode allows you to customize tons of settings:

  • Turn off radios with device – Save battery when your device is asleep
  • Turn on radios in background – Connect periodically to get emails/notifications
  • Radios wakeup interval – Minimum time between wakeups in background
  • Turn off data if WiFi on – Save battery by disabling Edge/3G on WiFi
  • Delay before radios on/off – the threshold when sleeping/waking up
  • Manage critical battery level – Turn to Ultimate mode if battery is < 15%
  • Save statistics – for drawing a graph
  • Radio management – for managing individual radios

The Custom mode allows one to tinker to an infinite degree in order to adopt the best battery saving strategy. You can change sleep/wake thresholds, background thresholds, and even manage individual radio settings for more fine grained control.

After you have everything configured how you like, you can use the built in graph to determine how your strategy is working over a period of time. You can set a statistical range from as little as an hour, all the way up to days, weeks, and more. I can see this turning into a competition to see how much usage one could eek out on a single charge, similar to the way “hypermilers” compete to see how many miles per gallon they can pull from their vehicles.

Should you?

At the end of the day, everyone’s experience will vary when it comes to gaining additional battery life. I think that most will see some difference, though it probably won’t be as drastic as the app is claiming. The bottom line is that you stand to gain some additional battery life by using BattSaver. My experience varied quite a bit because of the nature of my work, but I did notice slightly increased battery life during my testing with the app. For a $2.99 one time purchase, I think it’s worth finding out if the app will work for you. True, it’s not the cheapest item on the Cydia Store, but even if this ends up saving you 10% battery life, that’s a lot of battery saved over the length of your ownership. Plus, it’s entertaining to be able to chart your progress via the app’s built in graphing capability.

If I may suggest a couple of things:

  1. The app needs much better in-app documentation, explaining what each feature does in-depth. There is a help website dedicated to the app, but being able to access help within the app would be better.
  2. There should be a way to share your battery mileage with other BattSaver users. Perhaps the ability to tweet out an image of your usage graph, coupled with hashtags. #BattSaver, anyone?
  3. I noticed a few bugs where the Network screen in the Settings app would not update correctly, but that’s just a small complaint.
  4. Needs a better app icon.

Other than those relatively minor complaints, I’m quite satisfied with BattSaver. I plan on using it for the foreseeable future. What about you?