Love your Android phone again with these simple changes


You can improve performance and extend battery life with a few simple Android tweaks.

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

No matter which Android phone you use — Samsung Galaxy, Google Pixel, OnePlus, Motorola or others – it came from the factory filled with predefined settings that control how it works. While many of these default settings may work for some users, you can quickly optimize your Android phone by changing a few of them.


Brett Pearce / CNET

However, you need to know where these settings are and what they can do for you before you start configuring them. We review options that can help you improve your battery lifemess up your home screen, find a stolen or lost device and get better performance out of your Android smartphone.

Note: Not all Android devices are the same, and phone manufacturers often put their own software on top of Android, so just be aware that some settings may be missing or out of place depending on the version of Android you are running and the manufacturer of your phone.


An overly bright screen will drain your battery incredibly fast.

Óscar Gutiérrez / CNET

Settings to improve battery life

Living with a phone that has poor battery life can be annoying, but there are some steps you can take to maximize each charge right from the start:

1. Automatically turn off screen brightness or adaptive brightness and set the brightness level slider to below 50%.
The brighter your screen, the more battery it uses.

To get to the setting, drag the shortcut menu from the top of the screen down and adjust the slider if it’s there. Some phones may have a switch to automatic brightness in the shortcut panel; otherwise, open the settings app and search for “brightness” to find the setting and turn it off.

2. Use adaptive battery and battery optimization.
These features focus on learning how to use your phone, including what apps you use and when, and then optimizing apps and the amount of battery they use.

Some Android phones will have a dedicated battery section in the Settings app, while other phones (which look at you, Samsung) bury these settings. It’s a little different for each phone. I recommend opening your settings and searching for “battery” to find the right screen. Your phone may also have an adaptive charging mode that can monitor how fast your phone battery is charging overnight to maintain its health.

Dark mode is your friend

Another way to improve battery life while helping to save your eyes is to use Android’s dedicated dark mode. Any Android phone running Android 10 or later will have a dedicated dark mode option.

According to Google, dark mode not only reduces the strain that smartphone screens cause on our eyes but also improves battery life because displaying dark backgrounds on OLED screens takes less power (used in most flagship phones) than a white background.

Depending on which version of Android your phone is running and which company made your phone, you may need to dig around in the settings app to find a dark state. If your phone is running Android 10 or later, you will be able to enable system-wide dark mode. If it’s running Android 9, do not despair. Lots of apps have their own option for dark mode in the settings which you can use whether you have Android 10 or not.

To activate dark mode, open Settings app and search for Dark condition, Dark theme or even Night mode (as Samsung likes to call it). I suggest you use dark mode all the time, but if you are not sure, you can always set dark mode to turn on automatically based on a schedule, e.g. from kl. 19:00 to 7:00 every day, or let it automatically change based on your location at the time of sunset and sunrise.


Using dark mode on any phone is an easy and nice way to save battery.


Keep your home screen free of clutter

Planning to visit the Google Play Store for one a lot of new Android apps? Be prepared for a lot of icon clutter on your home screen, where shortcuts land every time you install something.

If you do not want it, there is a simple way out of this: Long press on an empty area on your home screen and tap Settings. Find the option labeled something along the lines of Add icon to home screen or Add new apps to the home screen and turn it off.

Presto! No more icons on the Home screen when you install new apps. You can still add shortcuts by dragging an app icon out of the app drawer, but they will not appear on your home screen unless you wish to.

Read more: Best Android phones you can buy in 2022

Configure Do Not Disturb

If your phone routinely spends the night on your bedside table, you’ll probably not want it to beep or buzz every time there’s a call, message or Facebook alarm – especially when you’re trying to sleep. Android offers a Do Not Disturb mode that keeps your phone more or less silent for the specified hours. On some phones, this is referred to as the downtime setting or even downtime.

Go to Settings > Sounds (or Messages), so look for Do not disturb or a similar name. If you can not find it, search for it using the built-in search function in your settings.

By using the function you can set a number of hours where you want to turn off the digital noise. But do not worry, all notifications you get while Do Not Disturb is turned on will still be waiting for you when you wake up. You can also typically make an exception that allows repeat calls and calls from favorite contacts to go through. Turn it on. If someone calls you in an emergency, chances are they will keep trying.


What a person who finds a lost or stolen Android phone will see after using Find My Device to unlock it.

Jason Cipriani / CNET

Be prepared if you lose your phone

Is there anything worse than a lost or stolen phone? Only knowledge that you could have tracked it if you had turned on Google’s Find My Device feature.

To set yourself up for a successful recovery, do here: Open Settings app and then search for Find my device. It’s normal in Security section of Settings app.

Or if you have a Samsung device, you can use Samsung’s Find My Mobile service, which is available at Settings > Biometrics and security > Find my mobile.

Once enabled, you can go to from any PC or mobile device and log in to your account. Samsung users can visit to find a lost phone.


Losing a phone is never a fun experience.

Angela Lang / CNET

If you encounter problems configuring any of these, be sure to read ours complete guide to finding a lost Android phone.

Assuming your phone is turned on and online, you should be able to see its location on a map. From there, you can make it ring, lock it, set a lock screen note to tell the person who has it how to get it back to you, or in the worst case, remove it all.

Of course, there is much more to learn about a new phone. If you have a phone with you Android 12which was released last fall, here’s what you need to know about download, compatibility and new features. And if you’re already on Android 12, here it is more hidden features you should know about.