How not to fix an android battery
Phone battery. One of the most key things about a smartphone these days. The last thing you ever want is to run out of battery during the day, or even worse, before your 8am alarm in the morning and you end up oversleeping and missing your 9am lecture. Recently, my phone’s battery has been terrible and I strive to fix this issue.
I noticed this issue where my phone would take an eternity to charge and its battery would drain very quickly. I do a quick search online and find some forum post where someone mentions that it’s normal to just buy a new battery every 1.5 years or so. I agree with this post and do a quick search to buy a new battery on Amazon. I’ve had this phone for a few years, its time to get a new battery.
Results of a new battery
Three days later, the awaited Amazon package arrives at my door. Finally! Time to make my phone feel brand new! I swap the battery in my phone and try it out. Of course, its only on 40% charge when it arrives, but it would be a good indicator to see how much better this battery is by seeing how long it takes to charge. I plug it in and go about my day. About 30 minutes later, I find out that it has only increased by a mere 6%. 6%. ONLY 6 PERCENT?! Clearly there’s something wrong!
Evidently, there must be something wrong with the operating system. Of course, there can’t be ANYTHING ELSE ruining the battery performance on my phone (sarcasm intended). Perhaps a fresh new clean wiped Android system would do the trick? In fact, I am still running Android 7.1.2 (Nougat) and it is definitely time for a change given that Android 8.0 (Oreo) has been available since August 2017. Over a year ago!
Since my phone is the Moto G5 (codenamed “cedric”), I do a sneaky search online for my favourite custom rom, LineageOS and see if they have a rom available for this device. Now, for those less versed in custom roms and android distributions, it is possible to replace the operating system on an android device with a custom one (known as a custom rom). These custom roms are often created by groups of developers and add extra features or improvements to the default “stock” android system.
However, LineageOS does not support the Moto G5. Of all phones, they support the Moto G (which was released in 2013), the Moto E, Moto Z, Moto G4, Moto X, Moto X4… Basically every common Motorola smartphone to date, EXCEPT the Moto G5 series (including Moto G5 and G5 plus). Obviously the next course of action is to search for an unofficial build of LineageOS specifically for the Moto G5. A Google search revealed a post on xda developers - an unofficial version of LineageOS version 15.1 (which is Android Oreo 8.1). I check that it uses the correct architecture (ARM64) and take a look at the section stating what isn’t working (only USB tethering, but I don’t care about that).
Perfect. Time to try this new rom. I download the rom, flash it along with some Google Apps (GApps for short) and wait for the system to do its job.
Results of an updated custom rom
Huzzah! A success! LineageOS 15.1 running Oreo 8.1 was installed perfectly! I follow the setup tutorial to recover my backup from the cloud (which was relatively quick). Whilst I am at it, I take a quick browse of the new features of Oreo 8.1 and gawk at the customizable settings and better notification settings. And yes, the battery has improved. The battery drains much slower than before - it was a huge success!
… Or so I thought. After a day or so of using my phone as normal, I find the true issue of my terrible battery. I have my favourite (yet incredibly repetitive) mobile game, Summoners War: Sky Arena running in the background. With its intense graphics, it was no wonder that the battery could not keep up! Knowing this, I make sure not to let it run in the background when I have finished playing and close the game when I am finished. Why didn’t I think that this game in the background was the issue in the first place? I could have saved on a new battery, and a lot of time installing that custom rom.
But a new issue arises. Whatsapp Web doesn’t work. To use Whatsapp for the web, you need to scan a QR code using your phone to activate it on the browser. Unfortunately, the camera on my phone does not work properly when scanning this QR code. This issue was further backed up by the fact that the camera app crashes constantly and video capture is impossible. “LineageOS has betrayed me!” I think to myself.
Despite how much I don’t want to, I decide to switch to a different custom rom. LineageOS has been my favourite from way back in the day when it was branded as CyanogenMod as all of the features it implemented seemed natural, in the sense it doesn’t have a weird setting menu option or app to tweak everything. For example, to adjust the pattern lock for a phone, it would be under the default security settings menu, whereas other custom roms would have a setting menu specific to that rom and then have the custom setting inside that.
I grab a copy of Resurrection Remix, flash it and check the camera. The camera fails again. Evidently, it’s got to be something wrong with Oreo 8.1. After some research, I found out why nobody has an official custom rom for the Moto G5. It employs some strange camera API which isn’t majorly supported. In short, Android 8.1 and Moto G5 custom rom isn’t going to work. However, Android P (Also known as Android 9 or Android Pie) was released about a month ago! After further research, a post on tweakguy.com showed that the Moto G5 can install Android Pie! I continue my research to find another post on tweakguy.com which does not state that the Moto G5 has Android Pie support.
After discovering this, I decide to try my final option: Install the Pixel Experience rom, a rom based on the Google Pixel. Despite my efforts, I can not get the camera to work and eventually, after much debate, revert back to Android 7.1.2.
After a week and a few days, I have concluded that:
- There is no fix for the camera on the Moto G5 for Android Oreo
- I should check what apps I have running in the background of my phone and make sure they don’t hog my battery whilst in the background
- I have wasted a lot of time over the past week installing custom roms when there was nothing wrong in the first place!
In short, if you have a slow battery, getting a replacement or installing a new operating system isn’t always the best solution.