GT Explains: Android Wakelocks, How to Detect and Fix Them

Ashish Mundhra

Have you ever gone to bed with your Android’s battery adequately charged, but woken up to a completely drained phone in the morning? If the answer is yes, you might be affected by wakelock apps installed on your smartphone. Of course, this could also be due to poor battery health. But system wakelock scenarios, due to misbehaving apps that use your phone’s resources and drain battery life, can happen even on healthy devices.

young man doing a sleep gesture
Sleep well (via Shutterstock)

To gain a better understanding of the issue, we will look at what wakelocks are when it comes to Android and how we can detect and fix the issue for better battery life.

What Are Wakelocks?

When you press the power button on your phone to lock the screen, you assume that the phone will go to sleep. But that’s not always the case. There are apps that run in the background, using the device’s resources and restricting the phone from going into deep sleep mode. Because of these, the phone’s processor is constantly working, which drains the battery life even when you’re not using it. Most of these wakelocks are caused because apps want to sync data in the background or use location services.

battery stats (2)

Therefore, the apps that keep your CPU running even after your phone is in sleep mode are called wakelock apps. However, these apps are not entirely to be blamed. These wakelocks are necessary if you wish to see an updated email inbox in the morning. Apps use the permission to sync data to the servers, which sometimes only lasts a few minutes.

battery stats (1)

The problem starts when some apps use this permission for as long as an hour and cause your phone’s CPU to function all the time. Take Google Play Services, for example. If you have your location enabled, the service will keep your phone’s CPU awake almost all night and reduce the battery life drastically.

So now that we know what wakelocks are, let’s see how we can detect the apps that are causing it.

Note: As we’ll be needing elevated permissions to retrieve this data, root access is necessary. Without root permissions on your device, I am afraid there’s not much you can do about the wakelock issue. But getting a device rooted is easy nowadays, so don’t forget to bookmark this page and come back to it once you have figured out how to root your Android (and rooted it too).

Detecting Apps that Cause Wakelocks

Detecting wakelocks is pretty easy once you have a rooted phone. Fully charge your battery to 100% and install an app, called Wakelock Detector, on the device. Having done that, reboot your phone once and launch the app. Wakelock Detector will ask for root access and run in the background collecting data.

wakelock detector (3) wakelock detector (2)

Come back to the app after a few hours and you will be able to see the total amount of time your apps have kept the CPU running in the background. You can also check the number of times an app triggered wakelock.

wakelock detector (4) wakelock detector (1)

Resolving the Problem

So now that we know the apps that are causing these wakelocks, one of the most straightforward options would be to uninstall the app and find a better alternative on the Play Store. But then there are system apps like Google Play Services that you cannot uninstall. These apps are necessary for the phone to function.

amplify (2)  amplify (1)

To keep a check on such apps, you can install an Xposed module called Amplify. Amplify is basically a battery saving app for Android, but unlike others, it has a module to restrict wakelock requests from different apps installed on your system. Select the Wakelock option from the right-hand side navigation bar. Select the permission you wish to restrict and designate a favorable time period. The app also provides a recommended setting to fix the issue.

amplify (3)

Conclusion

That was pretty much everything about wakelocks on Android and how to fix the battery trouble they may cause. People who experience high drain due to Google Location Services running in the background must try it out. In case of any confusion or for further explanation, just drop a comment and we’ll be happy to help.

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#Android apps#gtexplains

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Ashish Mundhra

Written By

Ashish Mundhra

Ashish is a staff writer and video editor at Guiding Tech. He loves all things tech and has a soft corner for Android. Apart from contributing articles here, he also takes care of our YouTube Channel.