Sprint EVO 4G Update: Syncing and Battery Drain

It was a fun weekend playing with the new Sprint (s s) EVO 4G I bought on Friday. It is a great phone and I will have a full review today or tomorrow. I did run into a strange situation that I didn’t expect, and I ended up doing a factory reset to deal with it. I have been watching the battery usage of the EVO due to reports that some have seen the battery drain in just a few hours. I was getting normal battery usage until late Saturday when the sync icon in the system bar appeared and wouldn’t go away. The battery drained 40 percent in just an hour with the phone sitting idle on the table. Here’s what I think was causing the excess battery usage and what I did to get around it.

I have tested quite a few Android phones and have seen that a lot of apps will sync in the background by default. It can hit the battery hard when you have too many apps doing this so I have a habit of turning off automatic syncing for all apps except the main Google account. I like for my Gmail, contacts and calendars to get synced in real time, so I leave that one set to sync automatically.

I did this on the EVO 4G due to reports that some early users were getting hit by hard battery usage. I wanted to make sure that I would get maximum time out of each battery charge, and I have been watching this closely. The method of turning off auto-syncing for everything except the Google account was working well out of the box, and I got what I felt was normal battery usage for an Android phone.

Late Saturday night that changed drastically. The sync notification that appears in the Android system bar when something is syncing came on, and wouldn’t go away. I found that strange as I had never seen an Android phone do that before. I watched the battery start draining almost before my eyes using the vizBattery widget. It drained over 40 percent in an hour, and according to the Android (s goog) 2.1 settings the culprits were the Android system and Wi-Fi. That indicated that this strange never-ending syncing was hitting the phone really hard.

I investigated what might be causing this, and was surprised to discover there were two Google accounts defined in the settings for Accounts & Sync. The main Gmail account was there as expected, and my other Gmail account was also defined as a second Google account on the EVO. I had never defined this account, nor had I added that Gmail account for email. I immediately suspected this was the culprit behind the syncing/ battery drain situation, as I have never defined two Google accounts on any Android phone I have tested. I have not seen this problem on any other phone, either.

I turned off the syncing for this second Google account and watched things. The syncing notification did not go away, and the battery kept draining like there was a hole in the dyke. It was apparently doing some very heavy lifting trying to sync something in the background no matter what I tried.

So how did this second Google account get configured for Android? I didn’t do it; then it hit me — in my “new phone” playing around, I had purchased an app in the Android Market. When I bought it I had to give the login credentials for this otherwise unused Google account as it is affiliated with the Google Checkout service the Market uses. That simple purchase apparently resulted in Android defining the account to be a second Google account for use by Android. Sure enough, this Gmail account, that I never use and never added to Android, was sitting there in the background.

I suspect that even though I did not add the account intentionally, and set it to not sync in the background once I discovered it was there, that it was the cause of the strange syncing going on. I did a factory reset of the phone and in just a few minutes had the configuration back to the single Google account as intended. The EVO has operated as expected since the reset, and with normal battery usage.

I am really impressed with the phone so far, other than this bizarre situation now resolved. I am curious if any other Android 2.1 users have run into this before, and how multiple Google accounts are affecting your phone.