Android OS battery drain bug

About a month ago, several Vodafone customers across Europe got the Gingerbread version of Android on the Samsung i9000 Galaxy S.

It took a while to get this update because the Android update process works like this:

– Google releases a new Android version and make it available to the manufacturers

– Manufacturers like Samsung take their time to adapt the OS to their specific model and send it to the carriers

– Carriers like Vodafone take their time to add some of their own customizations and test it thoroughly before allowing it to be available to the customers

One might think that with all those eyes at different companies looking and testing the firmware, the final release would be solid as a rock and pretty much bug free.

The Galaxy S was last year’s Samsung flagship smartphone and sold millions of units all over the world, the manufacturer claims the phone can remain in standby mode for up to 750 hours in a 2G network and up to 625 hours in 3G networks. Of course nobody expects it to actually be even close to those very optimistic numbers but with the latest Gingerbread update I got a feeling things got worst.

During the holidays I decided to see what was happening: I took the phone off the charger in the middle of the morning and didn’t use it at all during the day, except for a very short phone call (less than 1 minute) and to take some screenshots of the battery usage menu to see how things were going:

As you can see in the first screenshot, even though WiFi, GPS and Mobile Data are all disabled, in just 3 hours and a half there is a significant drop in the battery apparently caused by the Android OS process.

One hour later the Android OS process is still the most significant battery consuming process, though there is this weird process called “orientationd” I suspect might also be related to the battery drain.

As you can see above I received a short phone call, and the corresponding entry appears as responsible for 1% of the total power consumption.

9 hours and 18 minutes have passed and although the percentage is decreasing, the Android OS process is still the main reason of this excessive power consumption. By this time there is less than half of the battery capacity remaining.

Finally, after 15 hours and a half the battery is dead and the phone eventually shutdown by itself.

If I was using the phone in a normal workday, sending and receiving text messages, making phone calls, using the WiFi or playing some game, the battery wouldn’t last for half of the day, which is really bad if you consider the supposed 750 hours of standby Samsung announces.

I searched around for this bug and saw this Android OS battery drain bug reported in several internet forums. Apparently it exists at least in the 2.3.3 version of Android for the Galaxy S, though there are some similar problems reported in other Android phone models and manufacturers but I can only assure the existence of the bug in the Vodafone branded Galaxy S with 2.3.3 firmware.

I’m amazed how neither Samsung nor Vodafone noticed this bug in their extensive tests and despite taking a lot of time before releasing the updates they are still released with some serious problems like this!

I’m also surprised how the media didn’t notice a serious bug like this but sometimes report on other minor problems affecting other phones or gadgets.

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One Response to “Android OS battery drain bug”

  1. » A day in the life on an Android owner Says:

    […] and now is 5%. It seems that Android OS process is again over 50%. This is insane. It must be a Gingerbread trouble, because it didn’t happen with Eclair and Froyo. Anyway, I have to search how to solve this […]

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