Blog Post

Sprint EVO 4G Update: Syncing and Battery Drain

It was a fun weekend playing with the new Sprint (s s) EVO 4G I bought on Friday. It is a great phone and I will have a full review today or tomorrow. I did run into a strange situation that I didn’t expect, and I ended up doing a factory reset to deal with it. I have been watching the battery usage of the EVO due to reports that some have seen the battery drain in just a few hours. I was getting normal battery usage until late Saturday when the sync icon in the system bar appeared and wouldn’t go away. The battery drained 40 percent in just an hour with the phone sitting idle on the table. Here’s what I think was causing the excess battery usage and what I did to get around it.

I have tested quite a few Android phones and have seen that a lot of apps will sync in the background by default. It can hit the battery hard when you have too many apps doing this so I have a habit of turning off automatic syncing for all apps except the main Google account. I like for my Gmail, contacts and calendars to get synced in real time, so I leave that one set to sync automatically.

I did this on the EVO 4G due to reports that some early users were getting hit by hard battery usage. I wanted to make sure that I would get maximum time out of each battery charge, and I have been watching this closely. The method of turning off auto-syncing for everything except the Google account was working well out of the box, and I got what I felt was normal battery usage for an Android phone.

Late Saturday night that changed drastically. The sync notification that appears in the Android system bar when something is syncing came on, and wouldn’t go away. I found that strange as I had never seen an Android phone do that before. I watched the battery start draining almost before my eyes using the vizBattery widget. It drained over 40 percent in an hour, and according to the Android (s goog) 2.1 settings the culprits were the Android system and Wi-Fi. That indicated that this strange never-ending syncing was hitting the phone really hard.

I investigated what might be causing this, and was surprised to discover there were two Google accounts defined in the settings for Accounts & Sync. The main Gmail account was there as expected, and my other Gmail account was also defined as a second Google account on the EVO. I had never defined this account, nor had I added that Gmail account for email. I immediately suspected this was the culprit behind the syncing/ battery drain situation, as I have never defined two Google accounts on any Android phone I have tested. I have not seen this problem on any other phone, either.

I turned off the syncing for this second Google account and watched things. The syncing notification did not go away, and the battery kept draining like there was a hole in the dyke. It was apparently doing some very heavy lifting trying to sync something in the background no matter what I tried.

So how did this second Google account get configured for Android? I didn’t do it; then it hit me — in my “new phone” playing around, I had purchased an app in the Android Market. When I bought it I had to give the login credentials for this otherwise unused Google account as it is affiliated with the Google Checkout service the Market uses. That simple purchase apparently resulted in Android defining the account to be a second Google account for use by Android. Sure enough, this Gmail account, that I never use and never added to Android, was sitting there in the background.

I suspect that even though I did not add the account intentionally, and set it to not sync in the background once I discovered it was there, that it was the cause of the strange syncing going on. I did a factory reset of the phone and in just a few minutes had the configuration back to the single Google account as intended. The EVO has operated as expected since the reset, and with normal battery usage.

I am really impressed with the phone so far, other than this bizarre situation now resolved. I am curious if any other Android 2.1 users have run into this before, and how multiple Google accounts are affecting your phone.

24 Responses to “Sprint EVO 4G Update: Syncing and Battery Drain”

  1. Brian P

    I noticed (well not until too late) a similar problem yesterday, I took it off its charger fully charged about 3 in my office, then went and played tennis with barely any use in between, and at 730 it was completely drained. Gotta figure out what app is syncing and draining so fast.


  2. Dirk D.

    I do not understand the complaints about the battery life. I can get 12 of battery life, if I use the EVO heavy. If I have a light use day I can get 18-20 hours of battery life. My old Samsung Moment would only get six hours of life. I love my EVO.

  3. eschase

    WOW! I’m glad I read this post. I was going to get an EVO 4G, Now I’m going to get a iPhone 4. Thank you everyone for helping me with this decision.

  4. eschase

    WOW! I’m glad I read this post. Iwas going to get an EVO, Now I’m going to get a iPhone 4. Thank you everyone for helping me with this decision.

  5. Buford Wilson

    The EVO is sold out around the Pearland area so I ordered one from Sprint. Didn’t get it yet.

    I expect it will be easy to sync with a google account. But what about syncing with Outlook? I’m sure active sync won’t work. Is there an app?

  6. I got my EVO on Friday so this isn’t a very lengthy test, but I have three Google accounts configured:

    1) my main Google Apps account (my own domain) where e-mail, contacts and calendar are synced
    2) a second Google Apps account (my own domain) where only e-mail is synced
    3) a Gmail account that’s used for Google Voice and Checkout where sync is off

    Battery life since Friday has been acceptable. I won’t have any lengthy conference calls until later this week, but I have been using the EVO a lot with GPS and WiFi turned on all the time, including several long hotspot sessions with my iPad. No 4G where I live so that’s always off.

    No unusual sync events or sudden battery drains. I did buy the Battery Sentry app to alert me in the event of a problem

  7. Scotty

    My EVO head scratcher is related to your issue. I wound up with two Google voice accounts this weekend. :-)

    A few months ago Google did a big account unification and hooked my original Google Voice email (my own domain on Google Apps for Domains) into a new gmail account I’d setup to be able to buy stuff in the Android Market (Google Apps for Domains accounts wouldn’t work for that.)

    So forgetting this I put in the domains email and it acted all normal except noone of my Google Voice inbox was showing! After signing out and signing back in with the gmail account all was finally fixed up. I did however wind up with another Google Voice account out of the deal. :-)

    So far two things eat my EVO’s battery: 4G and some apps. Advanced Task Killer is my buddy for the latter. I’m off to get my EVO swapped out this afternoon. I’ve got a mis-aligned LED that shines on top of the LCD screen. very distracting but they didn’t have any swap out units on hand until today. I have this strange feeling I’ll have to re-install everything I did this weekend…

  8. That sounds like one hot phone. :) I remember Apple having a issue with the iPhone getting to hot and saying not to use the iPhone if it was a hot day. I know this not the case here. Did you try a battery pull and see if that would have stopped the syncing? I wonder if you try to buy something else again if you will have the same issue?

  9. How do I turn off background syncing but keep gmail on auto sync?

    if I uncheck background data (in accounts & sync), i cant get any of my accounts to auto sync?

    It seems like its either all or none…is there another menu i should be checking out.

  10. Good to hear that battery life is “normal.”
    Friends and I have also found that the sync on other Android phones will kill the battery a lot quicker if left to run in the background all the time. Best to just sync manually or let it sync when you go to use the actual app (gmail, cal, etc.).

    I’m sure a lot of people don’t know this and hopefully they will catch on to this and won’t be bashing the battery life. For those that want to automatically kill such apps “multitask manager” if free in the app store and works nicely.

  11. spideo

    The battery drain you describe is kind of odd, because I had the same problem with my Sprint Hero (I haven’t jumped on the Evo just yet). I was in the movies Saturday night when my the phone was getting very hot in my pocket. I looked at it and also noticed that the sync icon was up there in the status bar. Anyway, I ignored it and after two hours, the battery had gone from 50% to 0.

  12. I’d say this is a one-off, odd problem. I’ve been syncing multiple Google accounts on various builds of Eclair and Froyo without any issues — in fact, the support of multiple Google accounts is what makes Android appealing to many. No sync or battery issues on my Nexus One with regards to this… and I’d think removing the second account would have done the trick in lieu of a factory reset. At least I’d hope so! ;)