The Google Nexus One was the first Android phone to feature live wallpapers.
Since version 2.1 or “Eclair,” Google’s Android operating system has included a feature called “Live Wallpaper.” This allows animated or interactive scenes to play behind the main homescreen, giving the smartphone a more customized look. Unfortunately, many Live Wallpaper apps cause significant slowdown of the operating system and a drain on the phone’s battery power.
Live Wallpaper Overview
Live Wallpapers are small programs designed for Android phones (version 2.1 and later) that replace the static images normally used for wallpaper on the homescreen. Live Wallpapers come in a wide variety – some are simple looped animations, while others use the phone’s camera, GPS, motion sensor or other tools to create a dynamic image. Many are touch-sensitive, reacting to the user’s finger tapping on the screen. While most new Android phones feature a few Live Wallpapers built in, many users like to download free or paid Live Wallpaper apps from the Android Market.
Live Wallpapers are more taxing on system resources than a standard static wallpaper. This can have a variety of adverse effects, but one of the most pressing is the effect on the phone’s battery life. Every phone is different, but the consensus among the Android community is that there is a small but noticeable battery loss when using Live Wallpapers, usually between 2% and 5% of the total charge. On a basic phone with 8 hours of talk time battery and 15 hours of standby battery, this represents a maximum of 24 minutes lost and 45 minutes lost, respectively.
Other Adverse Effects
Battery draining isn’t the only negative impact of Live Wallpapers. Running a complex or poorly coded Live Wallpaper app in the background can slow down the phone’s processor and fill up video memory, resulting in sluggish phone performance. This effect will vary depending upon the phone model and the Live Wallpaper itself – newer, more powerful phones can handle complicated Live Wallpapers without difficulty, while older or cheaper phones will see a more significant impact. Live Wallpaper apps that use the phone’s camera, motion sensor or an active Internet connection will affect battery performance and speed with noticeable results on almost any current phone.
Checking Battery Usage and Uninstalling
You may still wish to use a Live Wallpaper despite its impact on battery and performance. To get a better look at exactly how much it’s impacting your battery, press the “Home” button, then the “Menu” button. Tap “Settings,” then scroll down and tap “About Phone.” Tap “Battery Use.” Find the name of your Live Wallpaper in the list to see how much of your current battery charge it’s using. If you wish to uninstall the app, press the “Back” button twice, then tap “Applications.” Tap “Manage Applications.” Find the Live Wallpaper in the list and tap it. Tap “Uninstall.” On the next screen, tap “OK,” then “OK” again. Note that pre-installed live wallpaper apps cannot be uninstalled by regular users.