What's the real deal on animated wallpapers and battery drain?

David Pool

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I know the conventional wisdom is that animated wallpapers are, by their very nature, a drain on your battery. And I can even accept the apparent logic of this. However, I've also read many times that users just don't see that much difference. In fact, my own back-to-back comparisons between a live wallpaper and a stock static wallpaper (my daily use patterns are pretty fixed and predictable) have shown this, too...not much difference.

But what I guess I still don't fully understand is this: is a live wallpaper a drain only when it's running and visible on the screen? If so, that's pretty easy to control....just get to an app, right? Or do live wallpapers somehow put a load on the battery even when they're not on screen? I don't see how it's possible...but do they load the battery when you're using an app? Do they load the battery even when the phone is dark and "idling"? If it's really a case of "they run only when you see them running" then that explains why they really don't add all that much to the drain on your battery.
 

Ealevenish

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I know the conventional wisdom is that animated wallpapers are, by their very nature, a drain on your battery. And I can even accept the apparent logic of this. However, I've also read many times that users just don't see that much difference. In fact, my own back-to-back comparisons between a live wallpaper and a stock static wallpaper (my daily use patterns are pretty fixed and predictable) have shown this, too...not much difference.

IRL, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. So if there's not much difference for you why not run them?

OTOH, what's the point of your phone being a carnival when you're not using it?
 

David Pool

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Whether or not it's "mute" [sic], the question stands. I'm happy with "there's not much difference" in terms of deciding whether or not to use a live wallpaper...but I'd still like to know if there's a background drain.
 

Ealevenish

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Whether or not it's "mute" [sic], the question stands. I'm happy with "there's not much difference" in terms of deciding whether or not to use a live wallpaper...but I'd still like to know if there's a background drain.

If "there's not much difference" there's no(t much) background drain, is there?
 

Haalcyon

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Maybe just test out during two evenings when you go to bed. One night with a tricked out shimmy'n wallpaper at full charge and the next night with a static wallpaper at full charge. After that you'd know if it makes a difference.


via the tablet
 

B. Diddy

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I always use live wallpapers. Some LWP's use more juice than others, depending on what's being animated and how complex it is. But they really should only be using CPU and battery when you're on a homescreen. The exception might be LWP's that access the web for various info, like weather LWPs--I'm not sure if those are periodically waking the phone to access the web and refresh data, or if it's only when on a homescreen.

Just like any app, LWP's can be glitchy, and sometimes run overtime when they shouldn't be. I've seen that occur with one or two. But most of the LWP's I use never show up in the battery stats, while the others use at most 1-2%.
 

David Pool

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Two nights later and I can tell you what the results were:

Night 1: Live wallpaper in place. Phone charged to 100%, all apps closed except for the Warmly alarm. Phone unplugged from charger. Sat idle for 7 hours exactly. Battery charge at the end of the night: 94

Night 2: Static wallpaper in place. Phone charged to 100%, all apps closed except for the Warmly alarm. Phone unplugged from charger. Sat idle for 7 hours exactly. Battery charge at the end of the night: 93

Now, if there was going to be any difference between the two, you'd have thought the live wallpaper would be the one with the slight additional drain. Since I can think of no good reason why the trial with the static wallpaper would have put 1% of additional drain on the battery, I'd have to say it's just a 1-point discrepancy in the metering....and I call it "even." There is no additional drain in the background. So, as I suggested at the outset, a live wallpaper must be putting its drain on the battery *only* when you've got the display on and you're looking at one of the screens. But once you've move on to an app or the phone goes idle, that live wallpaper is adding nothing to the drain.
 

David Pool

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B. Diddy, as little as I know about LWPs, I *have* read that what you say is true...that many of them are not written well and are huge resource users. Considering that the one LWP I wanted to use (and be assured of) is Nexus Triangles LWP, they claim in their Google Play description that it "is optimized for battery life and performance, so you can use it all day without sacrificing your phone's usability!" In addition, theultralinx.com had listed it as one of the best and among those that was not "poorly developed".

Seems they all must be right!
 

zita williams

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thanks David
ive just come back to Android I went to the darkside for awhile (yep iPhone) but got frustrated how limited it was
glad to be back with the little green guy
I love live wallpaper but couldn't remember if it was a drain or not have been researching but confilicted answers .... so ill try the experiment myself
zita
 

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