How to make Nexus S work faster and last longer with Android 4.1 (updated after feedback from Verge members)

How to make Nexus S work faster and last longer with Android 4.1?

Nexus S

So you got yourself a Nexus S for enjoying pure Android experience from Google and you’ve upgraded it to Android 4.1. However, once you use it for a few days and install a lot of apps, you realize that it starts to slow up and battery life goes downhill. This is because Android 4.1 is a pretty feature rich OS with heavy animations and lots of new features and Nexus was built with Android 2.3 in mind with a barey capable 1 Ghz processor and only 512MB of RAM.

Here are a few tips to make Nexus S last long and run faster when running Android 4.1.

Turn off Google Now

If you’re upgraded to Android 4.1 then you must have noticed this new thing called Google Now. Basically Google Now is a revamped Google search interface for Android phones and what it does is that it checks your location, email, etc on a regular basis and then can keep you updated on a lot of things like weather, nearby attractions in case your are traveling to another city, movie information and traffic information and a lots of other stuff. Since Google Now is constantly checking for information in the background it uses a lot of battery life and it also slows down the Google search experience as the Google search has to load “cards” like weather, traffic etc whenever you load the Screenshot_2012-12-22-21-42-45app. You can turn off Google now by going to Google icon in the application list, then click menu button to go into Settings and then go into Google Now to turn it off by clicking the slide button at the top right.

Keep a limit on Background apps

Android is not well known for stellar battery life unless your phone has a really large battery and Nexus S has an average battery of 1500 mAH which cannot keep up with constant power drain of background apps. Many apps use what are called background services to update or notify you about certain things. For example, Twitter will run a background service to update you of the latest tweets, in the same way Facebook will let you know if you have a new message. If you install too much apps with background services they will all run background services and will make your battery life shorter. So it’s a good idea to limit these to the ones you most commonly use through a mobile phone and rest you can access with their respective mobile web versions or when you’re on the desktop.

Turn off Google maps service

For some reason the Maps application continuously runs a Maps service in the background which keeps checking for your location information. If you don’t use maps often and only occasionally run it to check for some directions then you are better off turning this service off to save some really precious battery life. You can do this by going by running the Maps application and then going into Settings--->Location Settings—>Uncheck “Report from this device”.

Turn off Google+ and Google messaging

Hey. Google has a social network! And Google is try to force you to use it by not allowing you to uninstall the bloody Google+ app and on top of that it keeps running in the background if you signed into when setting up the phone. Also, the messenger app which is basically just a client for Google Talk (Google Talk is just Google’s messenger service) keeps running in the background and eats away precious battery life and processing power. If you don’t use both of these services then you can safely turn off their background processes and turn the Google messenger off. To that you would have to go to Settings—>Apps—Screenshot_2012-12-23-01-10-41>Swipe over to “All” apps then touch Google+ and then click “Force Stop” and uncheck “Show Notifications” then hit back and go into Google “Messenger” app and then hit “Disable” and uncheck “Show Notifications”.

Don’t use too many widgets

If you have used Android before you must know about widgets. If not, then let me explain. A widget is basically a mini app which you can put on your home screen with which you can do a lot of mini tasks such as turning Wifi on or off, keeping track of news, weather, controlling brightness, showing battery life etc. The problem is that when you put a widget on the home screen, most probably its going to use a background service to update information in the background. So a lot of widgets will not only use battery but they will also slow your phone down as they will be constantly running on the home screen ready to show you information when you awake your phone from sleep mode. That being said not all of the Widgets have background services so you can safely use smaller ones which do simple things. However, its better to limit your use to only a few widgets which you actually need and use on a daily basis.

Turn off GPS

If you don’t use Google maps to navigate around the city and don’t want location information to be added to the photos you take, then its probably a good idea to turn off the GPS. GPS uses a lot of battery and can decrease the battery life of your phone pretty significantly. Now this is not related to Android 4.1 but it’s a good idea to turn this off as the new OS is already taxing your device pretty heavily and disabling GPS will help things a bit. To turn off GPS you can either go into Settings –>Location information—> and then uncheck “GPS Satellites”.


That’s about it. Follow these tips and you will definitely notice a increase in the responsiveness and battery life of your newly upgraded Nexus S. I’ll update this post with additional information as I use my Nexus S over the coming weeks. And finally, here’s a screenshot of my battery life after applying these changes: