A few days ago, we reported that the Facebook app had been updated, and now included “less suck”; turns out we may have been wrong (that pun will make sense in a minute). Flipz, the developer behind the awesome Fresh ROM’s, has done his homework and found that the updated Facebook App has a wake lock bug that drains the battery fairly significantly.

As mentioned, the problem arises from the wake lock. Wake lock is intended to keep parts of the phone running - typically the screen, but it can be configured to turn the screen off and leave the internal hardware on. The latter method is called a “Partial wakelock” and is the method used by the Facebook app - the screen is off, but everything else chugs along as if it the phone is in use. Flipz directly quotes the Android Developer site (and now I’m quoting him quoting it... how very Alice in Wonderland):

Device battery life will be significantly affected by the use of this API. Do not acquire WakeLocks unless you really need them, use the minimum levels possible, and be sure to release it as soon as you can.

If you hold a partial wakelock, the CPU will continue to run, irrespective of any timers and even after the user presses the power button.


Without going into more detail, what this basically means is that even when your phone isn’t in use, the Facebook app may cause it to continue to burn through CPU cycles (and RAM/ROM cycles, for that matter). The end result is that your battery life takes a significant hit.

I noticed this yesterday after I updated my Facebook app the night before, but I also flashed a new CM6 nightly and I (incorrectly) assumed that was the cause of the power drain. The power drain was fairly substantial - with the same usage conditions (and unplug time and time-frame), my battery was at 38% when I went to bed, while it’s normally around 54%.

Hopefully it won’t take Facebook as long to fix the wake lock issue as it did for them to come out with a decent App - if so, we probably won’t get a fix until mid-2012 (*zing*).

Update: Facebook acknowledged the issue today and promised a quick fix. Indeed, a few hours later, an update to 1.3.1 showed up in the Android Market, resolving the issue:

Hi folks, a number of you have commented on seeing a battery drain on your device since installing the new Facebook for Android app. We have identified the bug that is causing this battery drain and are working on a fix now. As soon as the patch is ready, we will push out an update. Thanks for the quick feedback and for your patience as we get this fixed!

[Source: GeekFor.Me]

Aaron Gingrich
Aaron is a geek who has always had a passion for technology. When not working or writing, he can be found spending time with his family, playing a game, or watching a movie.

  • Chris Dehghanpoor

    I can confirm this is a huge problem. My phone was just about dead by 6PM after being unplugged at around 6:45 AM, with very little use. Normally my phone lasts until at least midnight, no questions.

  • drdrewdown

    my battery life has been outstanding on the newest FRESH evo Rom. i installed the new facebook & battery life hasnt been any worse. i've noticed u dont want FACEBOOK FOR SENSE & FACEBOOK both syncing contacts. i've disabled the Facebook sync for contacts, so maybe that helps??? honestly i'm seeing over 30 hours of battery life on a single charge with this configuration. HTH someone

    • http://twitter.com/tokyomonster Chris Dehghanpoor

      I don't think it's the sync, unfortunately. It's the app itself. From my understanding of the what Flipz wrote, the only solution at the moment is to downgrade, which I ended up having to do :(

      (You should be able to 'Uninstall updates' in the market)

      • drdrewdown

        ok so i'm using the latest version, just DO NOT use it for syncing contacts.. & i'm getting over 30 hours battery life??? using Fresh EVO

        Have u tried it without using sync yourself?

        my guess is some people are double syncing facebook contacts

        • http://twitter.com/tokyomonster Chris Dehghanpoor

          Ah, I misunderstand your post. I have sync enabled, but I also have the Nexus One, so I don't have HTC Sync at all.

          Have you been using the app a lot? If you reboot your phone and don't open the app, it shouldn't cause the issue either.

          Also, Flipz mentions that in his testing he had sync disabled, so the issue is occurring with or without enabled.

    • sam

      How do you get 30 plus hours on a single charge. I am lucky if I get 12 hours.
      I have everything turned of as far as syncing goes and have my brightness set to minimal most of the time. What gives, my evo is not rooted is this the problem?
      Please help.

      • Aaron Gingrich

        A custom ROM can easily double your battery life. It increased mine about 3-fold.

        • sam

          oh man, please tell me this is not a mod or hack of some kind. I promised my wife that i would not tinkle with that sort of stuff anymore since I've modded just about everything else in the house (xbox,wii,sat,psp,ds). lol,,,,, here we go again

        • Aaron Gingrich

          Hahaha yup, it is - but it's well worth it. Custom ROM's are a huge step up from the stock stuff.

        • sam

          oh man oh man am i in trouble. hey Aaron would you be able to point me in the right direction so that i can begin my journey into the android underground.....lol

        • Aaron Gingrich

          We've covered a handful of ROMs here, although some are out-of-date. First you need to root though; SimpleRoot is the easiest to use:


          Then I'd look around XDA-Devs to find a ROM you want to flash. Artem loves Damage Control; I ran Fresh ROM's for a while, and now I run CyanogenMod 6. CM6 is much closer to stock Android, while DC/Fresh will keep things pretty similar to stock EVO - Sense included. From what I can tell, Fresh ROM's are the most popular, but I was unimpressed with 3.1 (Froyo) - maybe try DC first.

          Everything you need can be found here:

          If you're familiar with hacking your gadgets, it shouldn't be too tough for you.

  • http://google.com/profiles/dzinrgeek @amarquart

    THANK YOU! I have been very confused because everyone has been experiencing awesome battery life with Froyo, where as I have not. I updated both (Froyo & FB) not realizing what was causing it and just blaming Sprint Bloat.... still going to go Fresh though this weekend!

  • Simon

    Yes, since the FB update I have gone from about 15% loss over night to approx 50% battery loss over night whilst idle and periodic syncing. It's not to serious but i reckon I have gone from 3% an hour to nearer 7% an hour under normal use.

  • james

    How do we downgrade facebook in the market? It just shows me the app installed and option to uninstall. Wouldn't that leave me with no Facebook app.

  • MyGalaxyS

    I can confirm this as well I was able to be on my vibrant for almost 2 days without a charge, yersterday I did the facebook app upgrade and my phone just turn off by itself because of the battery drain. Uninstalling it right now until they fix this

  • Duke in Oz Downunder

    Finally just got v1.3.1 supposed to fix the bug. Appbrain still still seems to be showing v1.3.0 (not 1.3.1). The Facebook page seems is the 'official page' but they don't even have a change log. However at least the whole app is much less suckier and it actually shows news feeds that are up to date finally.

  • Aaron Gingrich

    An update to the App, version 1.3.1, has been released. It apparently fixes the bug. I will update the article in the morning.

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      I've gone ahead and added this update to the post.

  • Stefan

    Well, I can definitely say, it's not the Facebook App's initial fault. I have the latest installed on my Milestone (2.1) and I don't even notice the slightest thing. My battery went down 10% this night (8h+ of sleep), and I have sync on and all.

    I suppose it is either FB+FroYo or FB+custom ROM, or the double sync as mentioned already.

  • Deon

    You guys rock! Luckily I keep an eye on androidpolice daily and I saw this. A few days ago I had updated the facebook app. My phone was acting odd, doing weird things and probably the battery draining a bit faster but didn't directly notice. Today I read this post and immediately went to the market and found and installed the update. Sweet! Thanks AP.

    • Aaron Gingrich

      As always, you're very welcome, and thanks for being such a great follower Deon :)