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I have a Nexus S running Android 4.0.3 and Google Maps 6.8.1.

When I use the Google Maps navigation app, the battery slowly drains, even when plugged into my car charger. After 5-6 hours, the phone will shut down due to loss of power.

I have already tried:

  • Using only 2G mode
  • Configured all of my (configurable) apps not to check for updates, fetch mail, etc, except when I tell it to.
  • Reduced CPU speed, changed CPU governor, etc

I've had limited success reducing the CPU speed too much, as it makes the nav app unresponsive when I set it too low.

I have not tried dimming the screen much, as I can already barely see it when driving with sun glasses on.

Is this normal behavior, or is my phone faulty (or misconfigured)?

What else can I do?

  • Perhaps there's a better way to charge my phone (different charger/USB cable?)
  • Perhaps there's some way to automatically disable the screen except when within a certain distance of a turn? I.e. if the screen auto-blanked after 5 minutes, then would re-activate whenever there were spoken instructions, that would be fine with me.
  • Perhaps there's another nav app that's more friendly on the battery?

EDIT Even in my car, I use an A/C charger with a DC/AC inverter, rather than one of the round cigarette-lighter style chargers.

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I've seen this behavior, too; I assumed the problem is that the display uses a lot of power. Maybe turn off the display, and rely on the voice. –  offby1 Jun 15 '12 at 1:47
    
I've seen it to on a Motorola Droid. I've not encountered yet on my Galaxy Nexus, but mostly because I haven't been on any long trips with it. –  Al E. Jun 15 '12 at 3:17
    
I have the same problem in both my 2003 VW Jetta and my 97 Dodge RAM 3500. –  Flimzy Oct 31 '12 at 3:02
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5 Answers

It's probably your charger.

I tested my Nexus S with the following:

  • dumb charger (only had +/- lines connected), capable of 2Amps (2.000mA)
  • Inlined voltage meter to measure currents
  • Brightness maxed, set CPU to 1.2GHz, performance governor, benchmark running

The device adhered to the USB standard and never draw more than 500mA (0.5A), although the charger is capable of 4x more current. It lost 2% percent during <5mins when the benchmark ran.

I know that apple encodes power settings into their wall chargers by setting voltages to D+/D- pins of the USB connector. I'm not aware of how to tell the phone to just draw more power and dismiss the USB's 500mA safety regulation.

If you have such a charger, give it a try.

EDIT: I could fix my own Nexus S' charging behaviour by using a kernel with force AC fast charge option enabled (for example Trinity kernel for Nexus S / Android 4.0-ICS) and this Fastcharge widget.

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So try a "smart" charger, such as one from Apple? How can I tell if my charger does this? –  Flimzy Jun 15 '12 at 0:48
    
Well, good question. That's just what I have observed, I have other chargers, but none I can intercept easily (to measure current) at the moment. Your car charger might be misdetected as USB. See this, it's about USB-charging versus (forceful) AC-fast-charging: forum.xda-developers.com/archive/index.php/t-1564973.html –  ce4 Jun 15 '12 at 0:57
    
FYI, I have used a number of "chargers", including my Palm Pre and Kindle chargers (which are just AC-to-USB adaptors, with a USB-to-micro-USB cable), and have had the same results. But I also have no reason to think these aren't just as "dumb" as the one you tested. –  Flimzy Jun 15 '12 at 0:59
    
It seems that you have to have a kernel or rom installed that supports this. There's an app to toggle fast charge for supported roms: play.google.com/store/apps/… –  ce4 Jun 15 '12 at 1:07
    
One more question: What's shown in the settings under 'Battery' when you use your chargers: (USB) or (AC)? –  ce4 Jun 15 '12 at 3:30
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I have had this happen to me.

What I did that helped a bit was to turn the screen off when I was on a long stretch and didn't need to see my next direction for a long while.

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That's what I've been doing, too. But it's an imperfect solution. –  Flimzy Jun 15 '12 at 6:03
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I believe this is a combination of two things, as I used to experience this with my EVO as well.

  1. Crappy charger

    • as ce4 stated, car chargers are often USB trickle charge, and will not do much. Going for the good, sometimes more expensive powered car chargers or DC/AC converters might help you out there
  2. HEAT

    • my phone would get so hot just from being in the car and being on (I do live in Florida..) that the battery would function very poorly. Heat also degrades the battery in the long run, so bummer there too.
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I just noticed, after a recent update to Google Maps, that there is now an option for Screen dimming when in navigation mode. The description reads:

Screen dims between instructions to conserve power

I have not gone on a long enough trip to test the functionality, but it looks promising.

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it might just be the cable you use, I recently got a powerbank and I found out that my device charged slower when I use a regular USB cable with it (even drains faster than it charges when using the phone at the same time) but when I plug in the cable supplied with the powerbank it charged as fast as it does when I use a regular AC charger, I tried the same thing with my Computer and the result was the same.

I would suggest you swap your USB cable (which supports data and charging) for one that can only charge the device.

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