How to Undervolt Your Nexus 4 and Add Nearly 2 Hours of Battery Life

Nexus 4 Gets 1:45 of Additional Battery Life After Undervolting

There are a lot of ways to increase your Nexus 4’s battery life. Traditional methods of power saving include dimming the screen, turning off vibration and disabling background data, but all of these take features away from your phone. The process of undervolting — lowering the amount of power your phone can consume — provides yet another way to increase its battery life. Undervolting your Nexus 4 is a major phone hack which carries risks with it, including the risk of breaking your phone and the certainty of voiding its warranty.

However, if you succeed, you can get nearly two more hours of endurance. Here’s how to undervolt your Nexus 4.

I. Install the Toolkit and Drivers

1. Download the MSkip Toolkit for your device.

2. Install the Toolkit


3. When the Toolkit opens, type no when asked whether to check for update and hit enter.


4. Select the correct version of Android (likely Android 4.2).


5. On the phone, pull down the notification shade and click on Settings, then click on About Phone and keep tapping on Build Number until it says you are a developer.

6. Hit back to get to Developer Options and select it.

7. Toggle USB debugging on.

8. Once done, plug in your Nexus 4 via USB cable to your computer.

9. Type 1 in the toolkit to install the drivers.


10. Choose your version of Windows, type the corresponding number and hit enter.


11. Select the option to install the drivers to your computer.


12. After it installs the drivers, reboot your PC and Nexus 4 and then plug it back in via USB cable.

II. Root Your Nexus 4 and Flash a Custom Recovery Image

1.  Select the 1-Click for All option (usually number 8).


2. Then select the SuperSU method to continue.


 

3. Then select clockworkmod recovery as your recovery image.


 

3. When it asks you if the device is in fastboot mode, unplug the device, turn it off, then turn it back on by holding down volume up, volume down, and power at the same time until it turns on, then plug it back in.


4. Type yes to continue. (*If you have issues getting fastboot drivers to install, head to TheUnlockr.com’s How To Root the Nexus 4 procedure for a tip on how to get them to install properly in the video on that page.)


5. On your device, use the volume buttons to select Yes and then the power button to choose it.


6. After that, the program will automatically continue to root the device.


 

7. Eventually, the device will reboot. Go through the setup process as you normally would (leaving it plugged in).

8. Enable USB Debugging again.

9. Wait patiently while the procedure continues.


10. Exit the program after it returns to the main menu.



III. Flash a Custom Kernel

1. Click here to download my favorite Kernel and save it to your computer’s desktop.


2. Plug your device in via USB cable.

3. Copy the kernel .zip file over to the root of your device’s storage.


4. Unplug the device, turn it off, and turn it back on by holding down volume up, volume down, and power at the same time until it boots into bootloader mode.

 

5. Push up on the volume key until you see recovery displayed. Push power to select it.

 

6. Once it boots in to recovery mode, select Install Zip from SD.

 

7. Select Choose Zip from SD.

 

8. Select the kernel .zip file and then select yes to confirm.

 


9. Hit Go Back until you get to the main recovery screen.

 

10.  Select Reboot System Now.

 

11. Once it reboots, you’re device is already undervolted by 100mv but we can push that a little bit to get a bit more out of it. Download Intellicontrol from the Play Store.

12. Pull the second slider all the way to the left to allow the processor to go to a much lower speed when idle.

13. Tap on the SVS tab at the top right and push the minus symbol to the left of All until the first value says 737500 (this is the lowest I would go but feel free to adjust this up and down based on your experience).

14. Scroll down and click the Apply button to save the changes. Enjoy the extra battery life! (I don’t recommend select Set on Boot simply because you could get stuck if the voltage is too low, so just redo steps 12 and 13 anytime you reboot your device. Trust me it’s safer this way).

*If you have an issue where the device won’t reboot properly or turns itself off, simply flash this file via recovery the same way you flashed the undervolted kernel to reset the kernel to stock and be able to reboot the device. 

IV. The Results

Using the Quadrant test found in the app store and LAPTOP’s own battery test here are the results we got before and after undervolting.

Quadrant Before Quadrant After
 
Battery Before Battery After
   

As you can see, the performance on Quadrant actually improved slightly, from 4,712 to 4,778 after undervolting while battery life increased by a powerful one hour and 45 minutes. Not too shabby.

David Cogen is a founder of TheUnlockr.com, the popular site for rooting, jailbreaking, hacking, modding, and other how tos to show you how to unlock your device’s true potential. They even have a popular ROM repository. Check out TheUnlockr.com for all your AndroidiPhone, and Windows Phone how tos. 

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  1. flabergast Says:

    Well Gawlly.

    With only a dozen steps and 17 flaming hoops to jump through you can void your warranty and possibly get an extra hour of battery our of your phone by dosing it with a coded equivalent of lithium.

    Is there any real world run of the mill process to obtain longer battery life?

    Why does every mile deep tinkerer brag about modifications that the ludites like myself couldn’t begin to implement?

    I’d rather charge my phone more often than take the risk of bricking my new Nexus by making a mistake in the instructions above. To the average human it reads like a VCR manual.

  2. iceberg020 Says:

    sweet guide! thanks

  3. bughunt23000 Says:

    @flabergast: this is a tutorial that literally gives you visual instructions down to single button presses. I’m guessing you didn’t actually read it and assumed it was too hard? Or skimmed it? You didn’t try it though, did you?

    If it’s not worth it to you, that’s one thing, but honestly, even if you don’t understand exactly what the instructions are doing, they’re easy enough to follow. C’mon, give the author some credit. It’s a good tut suitable for near-noobs.

  4. John Says:

    Nice guide

  5. spillmill Says:

    Hi, the link for “here” is no longer working…

    “1. Click here to download my favorite Kernel and save it to your computer’s desktop.”

    Personally, I would like to undervolt my Nexus 4 and leave everything else the same. Can this be done? And if so, any chance of advising which steps in the guide are not relevant?

  6. anon Says:

    i think he originally linked the harsh-kernel, could be found here: http://d-h.st/users/harsh/?fld_id=8888
    just download the last version

  7. Curious Says:

    Why doesn’t Google do this out of the box? What downside is there that isn’t severely outweighed by that much extra battery life? Do other Android phone manufacturers do this with their hardware?

  8. matt Says:

    I just flashd a custom kernel to make the colors on my n4 more vivid. I also want the features of this kernel though. Is there anyway to get both? If I flash this kernel will it void the color enhancing one? Would they magically merge?

    Great guide, I guess I’ll choose between a more beautiful screen or a longer lasting battery.

  9. John Says:

    Hi Matt, sounds like you should be looking at Franco Kernel. I’m no expert but it does do everything you wanted and seems to be well regarded around the interweb.

  10. andy Says:

    What app is that last screenshot from? Laptop Battery Informant? I can’t see it anywhere on the play store. Seems like a doctored screenshot. I mean, it isn’t a laptop

  11. shaby Says:

    Hi,
    Why do i have in “Intellicontrol” app
    “Error” instead of “SVS” when i am using Franco kernel?

    When i clicked on “Error” it say’s that my current kernel dosent support HAVS or SVS or both sysfs interface.

    It could be that “Franco” kernel is not supported?

    Thanks!

  12. Concerned Citizen Says:

    First off, there is absolutely no way to get an increase of more than 25% from undervolting. The fact that undervolting will give you anything other than a placebo affect is one of the largest myths in android. I’ll break it down as simply as I can here.When the processor is in use (i.e. not asleep or idle) UV does save a tiny amount of power. I tested with the most extreme UV my phone could handle. With a high performance governor, e.g. smartassv2, extreme UV would reduce CPU drain by 13%, or about 7 mA. With a governor that keeps the CPU frequency low, CPU drain would be reduced by about 18%, or 4.6 mA (weighted – see the spreadsheet starting cell H88). Now remember, these savings are limited to the processor, and only when it is active. For most users, this will mean the screen is on. For comparison, the screen on minimum brightness displaying black uses 9mA. On max brightness, displaying white, it uses 690mA. Let us assume some median value, ~350 mA.

    A saving of 4.6 mA out of at least 350 mA (screen) plus 20 mA (CPU)
    = 1.2%

    A saving of 7 mA out of at least 350 mA (screen) plus 50 mA (CPU)
    = 1.8%

    So, regardless of your choice of governor, even with extreme undervolting, you are not going to be able to increase your battery life by more than 2%. The argument about heat reduction is also laughable too. While I’m really not 100% on the specifics I can tell you that the actual heat reduction would be so minuscule you would never notice. Alas, there will always be people who will argue these points it really just can’t be helped. The graph shown is almost certainly fake. The developers of these multi million dollar projects to create software for our wonderful phones set these base voltages to the optimal level. Now it is, of course, true that each chipset is different and the maximum efficiency may lean 1 or 2 percent when concerned to voltage, but to answer the player who asked why they don’t UV out of the box (aside from the fact that there is no tangible benefit). They set it to the values they do because UV or OV (overvolting) can cause serious stability issues. Hope this clears thing up a little!

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