Trying out the Galaxy S5's Ultra power saving mode

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from Arizona
Published: June 25, 2014

Despite the fact that it's 2014, and we've got ridiculously powerful mobile computers as our phones these days, some people out there still feel the pain of a battery that just can't cut it day-in and day-out. For many devices the size of the battery has at least grown along with the size of our devices, but it's still not enough for some people.

And it's not their fault. Well, not completely. As advanced as our smartphones and devices are, our batteries are not seeing nearly as much attention as they should be. Or need to be getting. We hear about breakthroughs in battery technology every once in awhile, but it's not something that we as the consumers ever seem to get to take advantage of. Not yet, anyway.

Maybe some day.

Until then, we're left to the mercy of the manufacturers. They get to decide how big the battery in their phone is, and optimizations to the customized software will play a huge role in how fast that battery gets drained just doing the simplest of tasks. We have to keep our fingers crossed that our phone, which many of us consider pretty important, can last throughout a day without having a panic attack at the end of it.

What happens if the battery drains anyway, but you've still got awhile left in your day? Some folks would start turning things off, like Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, or even just activate Airplane Mode and call it a day. Lower the screen's brightness. A bunch of random, individual things all meant to give the battery just a little bit longer of a push.

Samsung wanted to make that easier, and take things a bit further, by including their Ultra Power Saving Mode in the Galaxy S5. It does all of those aforementioned things, with some tweaks. Instead of lowering the screen's brightness only, it actually turns it grayscale, and gives you a black-and-white representation of your phone's display. So even if you do use an app, like respond to an important text message, it'll remain grayscale. It turns off things like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. It will also turn off your phone's data connection when the display is off, and switch back on when you start using your phone.

Even the lock screen changes, as you'll no longer see the weather report there, and Samsung's fancy animation is gone, replaced by a simple indicator as to how to unlock the device. Once you do, the next screen is just a short six-item list of pre-approved applications that you can use while in the mode. At the bottom of the screen you'll see what your battery's percentage is at, along with the (usually) ridiculous amount of time left if you keep it in the Ultra Power Saving mode.

At 28%, the Galaxy S5 will go for 3.5 days. That's certainly impressive!

I decided to pick up the Galaxy S5 again to try out their Ultra power saving mode, and it works exactly as it should. However, I did notice that even using apps like text messaging, or checking Twitter sometimes, often meant the percentage dropped pretty quickly. Sure, even at 20 percent the battery would theoretically last for a couple of days, but it's pretty obvious you aren't supposed to use your device at all if you're trying to save the battery. Even in the Ultra Power Saving Mode.

It's a nice feature, especially one viewed as a tool needed for extreme measures to keep the battery alive, but at the end of the day I'm still wishing for better batteries. In a perfect world I wouldn't have to stop using my phone completely to make it last, even at the end of the day.

Maybe some day.

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