It is one of the longest standing beliefs among phone users: if you want to make the battery of your phone last longer, just close the apps running in the background. It is very common to see people hitting the multitasking shortcut on their phones to see a list of open applications and then closing most of them, thinking that by doing so they have actually extended the battery life of their phone and also reduced the pressure on the processor. And it seems logical too: the fewer apps that are running, the less processor and RAM will be used and this in turn will also reduce pressure on the battery.
There is just one problem with this approach: IT IS WRONG.
Yes, you read that right: closing all open apps is not likely to save battery life. In fact, it could even make it worse. And this is not the random opinion of some geek but that of experts in Apple and Google.
The reason for this is simple – both Android and iOS have improved when it comes to app management. So if you have an app open in the background — be it Facebook, Instagram or even a game — chances are that it is inactive and is actually not putting any pressure on the processor or consuming any battery. Some people would say, but an app like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger would be searching for messages all the time, wouldn’t it? Yes, it would, but here’s the interesting part — in most cases, it would do so even if it was not open in the background. You do not stop getting mails or messages just because you have shut the app, do you? Whether an app is able to access the Internet depends on the permission you have given it, rather than whether it is running in the background.
In fact, today, most apps that you see running in the background on your phone are generally in a slightly frozen and inactive state, ready to spring into action the moment you want them to. If you close them, the phone will have to work to shut them down, and then work again to start them when you launch them — and that actually consumes more processor power and battery because the phone actually has to use more resources to close and then open an app, rather than activate one that was already open in the background.
Of course, if there is an app that you are unlikely to use for a while, then go right ahead and close it, but if there is a chance that you will be using an app frequently (messengers, mail clients, social networks, or even a particular image editor like Snapseed), our advise is simple: let it stay in the background. If you close it, the phone will end up having to use resources (processor and RAM) to not just close it, but also to open it when you open it again. It is a bit like how running a car smoothly over a longer distance consumes less fuel than stopping and starting it again and again over a rough short stretch.
If you want an app to stop guzzling your phone’s resources, just turn off notifications for it or restrict its access to the Internet. That will be far more effective than fiddling around and closing it. Leaving it in the background will not only allow you to access it faster, it will not harm battery life much either.
(So what CAN you do to conserve battery? Stay tuned. We are writing that next).