Richard Freeman on 5 Nov 2009 12:30:59 -0800

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Re: [PLUG] Android?

Morgan Jones wrote:
> What is the battery life like?  I'm particularly interested to hear  
> how it does with IMAP (non-gmail) email client running and collecting  
> mail all day.  My Nokia E61i would last about a day with imap idle  
> collecting my 300-400 messages/day.  I imagine most smart phones are  
> similar but I understand Blackberry's technology allows for 3-4 days  
> battery life which is pretty impressive.

My G1 has gotten a LOT better with battery life.  Haven't used the stock 
builds in a while but I hear those are better too.  Used to barely last 
a day.  Now I'd say I can go probably a day or two with only occasional 
use if I have wi-fi turned off.  Still, it isn't terrific.

Anything that makes the phone non-idle can lower battery life quite a 
bit.  The other thing is that anything that involves background apps 
running can slow the phone down quite a bit if you aren't careful - 
probably due to memory starvation.  As a result I have almost nothing 
set to auto-sync beyond the google stuff (which seem to work fine).

Also, if you sit down and go browsing the web for 20 minutes you'll go 
through your battery very quickly - so no solitaire breaks or anything 
like that.  When I first got the phone I was extremely dissatisfied with 
battery life, but that was largely due to tinkering with in incessantly. 
  Once the novelty wears off and you start using it more like a phone 
you'll find the battery lasts a lot longer.

Even so, battery and memory conservation is almost always going to force 
you to compromise what you would like to do ideally.  (Other's mileage 
might vary - I'm certainly open to hearing if others have gotten away 
with days off the charger.)

> Are the third party builds realistically usable everyday?  That is:  
> I'm very technical but once it's set up I *really* don't have the time  
> or energy to tweak and manage it.  Is it set and forget once it's set  
> up?

I think we're of a similar mindset - I could probably do a full android 
build if I had to, but I don't want to get a kernel panic every other 
time that I try to make a phone call.

In my experience only a few 3rd-party builds are stable enough for 
everyday use by my standards.  Cyanogenmod is pretty good.  However, it 
has almost no QA by the standards of most linux distros.  Builds labeled 
stable usually mean "I didn't deliberately add any features that seem 
likely to break everything" - but there is no large-scale testing beyond 
the developer.  I tend to cherry-pick releases after they're a few days 
old and the general buzz on boards/etc seems to indicate that there are 
few issues.  Then I don't tend to update too often once I settle on 
something that works.  Seems like lots of people do the same thing - a 
few builds tend to get settled on as a result.

There is probably room for some more serious android "distros" to spring 
up to provide more formalized QA/etc around releases.

As long as you use reasonable care you aren't likely to brick your phone 
- android has a 2-stage bootloader so there are a few fallbacks if 
something goes wrong.  However, as you can imagine you should read up 
before messing with your firmware - some types of updates can be risky.
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