Change these Android settings now to get the most out of your phone

Change these Android settings now to get the most out of your phone

However, you need to know where these controls are and what they can do for you. In this guide, we’ll go through settings that may help you improve your battery life, clean up the clutter on your home screen, find a stolen or lost device and more. Receive expert tips on using phones, computers, smart home gear and more. Delivered Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Android comes with a plethora of options for customising and improving your smartphone experience. By default, Android selects the best settings for you, but playing with your Android preferences and settings is a smart idea to get the most out of your device, depending on the sort of user you are — beginner, average, or pro.

Highlights

  • So whether you have the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, Google Pixel 6 Pro or OnePlus 9 Pro, these are the settings you need to change immediately to get better performance out of your Android smartphone.

  • Yes, I also want to receive the CNET Insider newsletter, keeping me up to date with all things CNET.  By signing up, you agree to our Terms of Use and acknowledge the data practices in our Privacy Policy. You may unsubscribe at any time.

Living with a phone that has poor battery life can be infuriating, but there are some steps you can take to maximize each charge right from the very beginning:  Turn off auto screen brightness — it may be called adaptive brightness — and set the brightness level slider to under 50%. The brighter your screen, the more battery power it requires. To get to the setting, pull down the shortcut menu from the top of the screen and adjust the slider, if it’s there. Some phones may have a toggle for auto-brightness in the shortcut panel; otherwise, you need to open the settings app and search for “brightness” to find the setting and turn it off.

Note: Not all Android devices are created equal, and certain settings may be missing or in a different place depending on the version of Android you’re running and the maker of your phone, so just be aware of that when you’re adjusting these settings.

2. Use Adaptive Battery and Battery Optimization. Google introduced both of these features in Android 9.0 Pie: They focus on learning how you use your phone, knowing which apps you use and when, and then optimizing the apps and the amount of battery they use.

Some Android phones will have a dedicated Battery section in the Settings app, while other phones (looking at you, Samsung) bury these settings. It’s a little different for each phone. I recommend opening your settings and searching for Battery. The results should get you to the right screen. Your phone may also have an adaptive charging setting that can monitor how quickly your phone battery charges overnight to preserve its health.

Another way to improve battery life while also helping save your eyes is to use Android’s dedicated dark mode. Any Android phone running Android 10 or newer will have a dedicated dark mode option. According to Google, dark mode not only reduces the strain that smartphone displays cause on our eyes but also improves battery life because it takes less power to display dark backgrounds on OLED displays (used in most flagship phones) than a white background.

Depending on which version of Android your phone is running, and what company made your phone, you may have to dig around the settings app to find a dark mode. If your phone runs Android 10 or newer, you’ll be able to turn on systemwide dark mode. If it runs Android 9, don’t despair. Plenty of apps have their own dark-mode option in the settings that you can use whether or not you have Android 10. To turn it on, open the Settings app and search for Dark Mode, Dark Theme, or even Night Mode (as Samsung likes to call it). I suggest using dark mode all the time, but if you’re not sure, you can always set dark mode to automatically turn on based on a schedule, say from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. every day, or allow it to automatically switch using your location at the time of sunset/sunrise.

Planning to hit up the Google Play Store for a bunch of new Android apps? Be prepared for a lot of icon clutter on your home screen, which is where shortcuts land every time you install something. Thankfully, there’s a simple way out of this: Long-press on an empty area of your home screen and tap Home settings. Find the option labeled something along the lines of Add icon to Home Screen and turn it off. Presto! No more icons when you install new apps. You can still add shortcuts by dragging an app’s icon out of the app drawer, but they won’t clutter up your home screen unless you want them to. Bottom line: Head to Settings > Sounds (or Sounds and notifications or maybe Sound & vibration), then look for Do Not Disturb or a similar name. Using the feature, you can set up a range of hours (usually nighttime) when you want to turn off the digital noise. But don’t worry, any notifications you get while Do Not Disturb is turned on will still be waiting for you when you wake up.

Also, you can typically make an exception that allows repeat callers and favorite contacts’ calls to go through. Turn that on. If someone is calling you in an emergency, odds are they are going to keep trying. What someone who finds a lost or stolen Android phone will see after you use Find My Device to lock it.