When compared to Pixel 3, this year Google’s phone has a bigger screen with a higher 90Hz refresh rate, yet a smaller 2,800 mAh battery. That decision is mind-baffling, but that’s a topic for another day. We’re here to help you squeeze as much battery as you can from your phone.
Keep in mind that everyone uses their phone differently, so your mileage may vary. Let’s get started.
Even with all the battery-saving aspects of Android 10, some users are dealing with Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL battery drain or battery life problems. Don’t worry though, because there are some settings to change, steps to take, and options to consider that will make your phone last as long as possible.
Reboot Your Pixel 4 to Fix Battery Drain
First things first, almost any big (or small) problem can easily be fixed by rebooting your phone. There are several things or apps that will drain your battery. The easiest and fastest way to fix that is to long-press the power button and restart the phone. In fact, I do this once a week on mine.
Whether you want to give your phone a fresh start for the day or notice the battery draining too fast, give it a quick reboot. Additionally, if the phone is frozen or acting up you can manually reboot the Pixel. Try that first, then continue on for more info.
Turn Off the 90Hz Display (Smooth Display)
We know, we know. One of the biggest selling points of the Pixel 4 is the new screen, but that’s also one of the biggest reasons the battery keeps dying so fast. This year Google added a new screen with a 90 Hz refresh rate instead of 60 Hz like most devices on the market. This makes it fast and smooth, but also takes a bunch of battery.
And while there is some confusion going around about auto-refresh rates and how Google’s switching the phone between 60 and 90 Hz on the fly, you’re still better off turning the 90Hz option off. Go to Settings > Display > Smooth Display and turn this off. You’ll even see Google mention that once enabled you’ll notice a decrease in battery life. So turn this off if your phone isn’t lasting as long as you expected.
Find Apps Eating Up Your Battery
The next step and potentially the most useful one is to find misbehaving apps or what’s eating your battery. Basically, rule out a rogue app that’s causing problems. You’ll want to find these before it’s too late. If you want to fix your bad Pixel 4 XL battery life, keep an eye on how much juice apps use.
Read: Best Wireless Chargers for the Pixel 3 & 4
Any app you use a lot, or frequently, will drain your battery. However, some situations occur where an app uses more than it should, and that’s what we want to avoid. These can be apps you download or one that came pre-installed. On Android 10 your Pixel 4 will send you a notification if an app is using too much battery, so watch out for those alerts and take action if you get one.
Head to Settings > Battery > and tap the battery icon. This shows you a full breakdown of apps and their battery consumption. You should see the Android System, Screen (Display), or Pixel Launcher near the top of your usage chart. If some random app or process is using the most battery, that’s a problem. Click the app and select “Force Stop” or uninstall it to prevent further issues.
Disable the Always-On Display
We hate to simply tell you to disable a bunch of useful features, but the display in this phone is big and fast, paired with a small battery. Android 10 isn’t keeping the battery going as well as we thought it would, which is why we’re resorting to disabling features and screen options. One of those is the always-on display.
Personally, I enjoy this feature, and considering most people turn on their phone over 140 times a day just to check the time or date, this can actually save battery. However, some will disable it to see if it helps.
- Open Settings and go to Display > Advanced > and scroll down to Ambient Display
- From here, swipe the toggle to Turn Off the Always-On Display
Now the screen will go 100% dark and completely turn off when you’re done using it. Out of the box, when you turn off the screen you still see a clock, date, weather, notifications, and battery/charge info on the Pixel 4 screen. This is the always-on display, giving you helpful information at a glance. Try turning the AOD and 90 Hz off, then watch your brightness, and you’ll see a pretty big increase in battery life.
Pixel 4 Screen Brightness & Sleep Time
As we just said, screen brightness is another area of concern. Well, it and the sleep timer. For one, don’t use Ambient Brightness and don’t use your phone at 100% brightness, that’s just unnecessary. Additionally, changing the “Sleep Timer” will make a huge difference. Giving you an extra 1-2 hours daily.
Most people look at their phone to check something and then put it away or set it down, without turning the screen off. Now, the device sits turned on for 1-minute, before the “sleep timer” shuts off the screen. Now, imagine checking notifications potentially 140 times a day. That’s at least one minute with the biggest battery drain, the screen, being on for absolutely no reason, 100+ times. That all adds up, and kills your daily battery life results.
Tap the power button to sleep the screen every time you use the phone, or turn down the sleep timer.
Head to Settings > Display > Sleep > and set this to 30 seconds or one minute. That way when the phone isn’t in use, it dims and will go to sleep after that amount of time. So next time you set your phone down when you’re done using it, the screen isn’t on and wasting battery for 2-minutes at a time.
Tweak Location Controls
In Android 10 Google added some amazing options in settings for controlling our location information, when apps can access the microphone and several other things to help protect a user’s privacy. Old Android devices could turn location data on or off completely, and that’s all, which wasn’t helpful.
Now, you can manually go to Settings > Privacy > Location and control what apps can access your location at any given moment.
And while this seems minuscule, to track your location the phone uses battery-hungry GPS chips, scans nearby WiFi networks, and communicates with cell towers to track your every move. So, by turning off location data to as many apps as possible, you’ll greatly increase battery life by limiting all of that. This could potentially give you an hour of extra battery a day.
Use a Black Wallpaper & Night Mode
Did you know that using a black wallpaper will give you better battery life on the Pixel 4? Both of Google’s phone have OLED screens and that means pixels don’t need to turn on individually — or as high — to display a black image. As a result, a black background image saves battery life.
After you’ve downloaded a beautiful wallpaper long-press a blank area of the screen and go into Wallpapers to apply it. Once you use a black or dark wallpaper the phone will match that darker image in settings and other elements of the software. As a result, you’ll have less white throughout the system draining the battery.
We also recommend using Night Mode or Dark Mode everywhere, an area Google put a ton of effort into. You can use a dark theme in Google Maps, the Assistant, Gmail, Google Play, Twitter, and several other apps. Combine all of those and your phone will last a little longer.
Use Adaptive Battery Mode
In Android 9 Pie Google added a new feature known as Adaptive Battery mode, and it’s smarter than ever here in Android 10. This intelligent software actually learns from you and your device, then starts to limit apps that drain too much battery (or apps you never use) and over time will increase battery life.
So if the Pixel 4 is getting bad battery life the first few days you own it try turning this on, then give it time to learn your usage habits.
Keep in mind that this is usually on by default, so just make sure you don’t turn it off. Some apps will send delayed notifications as the software essentially puts them to sleep. If you rarely use that app, it shouldn’t be a problem.
Turn Off Features You Don’t Need (Motion Sense)
The Pixel 4 is pretty smart and can do some neat stuff. The Google Assistant is always ready to help, there’s the squeeze detection, Now Playing music recognition on the lockscreen, and now sensors that let you control music or alarms without touching the phone.
These are great, but they consume battery. Try turning off Ambient EQ, Now Playing, Reach to show, and anything in the “Motion Sense” category on your phone. If you don’t listen to a lot of music or use the Ok, Google hotword for voice commands, turn them all off too.
Battery Saver Mode
Another option is battery saver mode. It’s not as customizable as some manufacturers, but it still works pretty great. Head to Settings > Battery > and turn on Battery Saver mode when you’re low on power. This limits most of the advanced features to extend the life of your device.
Google has other options like turning off the Ambient Display or using adaptive brightness to consume less power. Plus, you can set a schedule or limits for when battery saver mode does or doesn’t come on.
If you just need a phone for communication and don’t need all the smart controls, turn on battery saver mode and the Pixel can last for days. I have it set to 15%, so that last 15% will last me plenty long in case of emergencies.
Other Quick Battery Tips & Tricks
At the end of the day, battery life always comes down to how you use your phone. Everyone uses their phone differently. Try downloading the app BetteryBatteryStats, or even Greenify. These apps improve battery life by detecting problems or helping you control app power and data usage.
Our last quick tip is to use Airplane mode. When you don’t need the “smart” aspects of your phone, or even need to make phone calls, turn on Airplane mode. This setting turns off all data, radios, services and more and most phones can last 4-5 days with it enabled. I use it whenever I travel or go on vacation and just need my phone for photos.
Unfortunately, Google put a tiny 2,800 mAh battery in the big 5.7-inch Pixel 4, and there’s no real way to make the battery last longer. Instead, we can simply recommend things to turn off or habits to change to extend its usage. You’d think Google learned from the mistakes on the Pixel 2 and 3, with its bad battery life, but apparently not. Here’s to hoping the Pixel 5 can at least last until tomorrow morning because the Pixel 4 can’t.
What’s Next, Android R & More
The Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL are literally brand new, which means Google can and will make improvements over time to extend battery life and squeeze every bit from these phones. As more people get one, expect a big November Android 10 update with battery and performance enhancements. Then, another update on the first Monday of every month. Not all of those monthly updates will fix stuff, but we’re expecting at least two battery-saving updates in the near future.
Additionally, expect the first Android R beta and developer preview to arrive in March of 2020. That will be the next major update to Google’s Android software. With each new release the company finds a way to make phones run better, be more smooth, and last longer. Here’s to hoping Android R can make significant strides towards letting the Pixel 4 last an extra 2-3 hours a day.
Otherwise, buy a portable battery, get a battery case, or try the Pixel 4 XL which has a slightly bigger battery. While you’re here, check out this list of the best Pixel 3 cases and maybe get a screen protector too.