Android 12 is draining some Google Pixel batteries — what you need to know

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(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Android 12 has rolled out to all Google Pixel phones as of the launch of the Google Pixel 6. Unfortunately, it's reportedly having a negative effect on the battery life of some older Pixels, and Google's yet to come out with a definitive solution.

Coverage from PiunikaWeb shows that even users with the relatively new Google Pixel 5 or Google Pixel 4a 5G phones have observed a big dive in their phones' longevity since installing the update. While some reduced performance on older devices may be expected, the drops here are big enough that the blame can't be laid only on aging hardware.

Increased battery drain was a problem found in the beta versions of Android 12 too, and seems to have continued into the final release. This combines with the fact that Pixel phones have never been among the devices with the best phone battery life. In fact, before the Pixel 6, Pixels had notably smaller batteries than any rival devices, which certainly doesn't help with a new power-hungry version of Android.

This problem could affect the brand-new Google Pixel 6 and Google Pixel 6 Pro, too. Our Pixel 6 battery life tests for both phones revealed disappointing results, way lower than most flagship phones with similarly sized batteries. Our analysis at the time was that this was the fault of Google using an older, less efficient 5G modem (our battery tests are conducted using a cellular connection), but perhaps Android 12 is also partially responsible.

As for fixes, there's nothing that seems to work consistently. One user reported that the Google Help Desk suggested they reset their phone and then restore data from a backup. This isn't an ideal solution since it requires deleting everything from the phone first, which risks data loss even with a backup, for potentially no benefit. However in this user's case, it did seem to work.

Later, Google representatives on the Made By Google Twitter profile suggested another user start up his phone in safe mode, which helped with the lag the user was facing while using his Pixel 5, but there was no mention of reduced battery drain. PiunikaWeb itself suggests making sure that the "Manage apps automatically" option in the Battery settings menu, although it points out that this could lead to disruptions to notifications.

A Google rep has also told one user that the company will be investigating this issue. Hopefully this means future updates will help mitigate Android 12's appetite for battery, although an answer this vague doesn't give us any idea of a timeline.

If you're still struggling with your Android 12-equipped Pixel's battery life, you could take a look at our guide on how to check Android battery health to see if your phone's battery is doing well. Otherwise, you may simply have to wait for future OS updates from Google.

Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.