Nokia N8: slimming down the homescreens

In recent weeks, I’ve felt that my Nokia N8’s battery life—and it’s never exactly been economical on that front—seems to have been getting ever shorter. I would classify myself as a moderate-to-heavy (“power”, if you will) user, and likely as a result, I would be hard-pressed to get through a long day without a “top-up” charge of some description.

There are, of course, plenty of tricks that “smartphone” users can employ to boost their device’s battery-charge life, and I am likely to work my way through the list in short order. One of the items I am experimenting with, goes against one of the prevailing fashions in the smartphone world: the desire to have as many “homescreens” (rather like small “desktops”) as a device can muster, with a dazzling array of “widgets” keeping the phone user updated constantly with news, weather, stock prices, Twitter/Facebook updates and so forth.

I can understand the attraction of this only too well, but consider: every one of those applets is running constantly, and a whole army of them will be hammering away at the device’s battery—why do we wonder at our phones’ inability to make it through a day on one charge?

According to Nokia Battery Monitor on my N8 (a “must-have” for owners of recent Nokias, in my view), the homescreens account, on average, for about 10 per cent of the phone’s battery usage on a given day. I have used all three homescreens on the N8 since I acquired it, and I fell to thinking: could I “make do” with two?

Noted mobile phone authority Steve Litchfield wrote an article for All About Symbian, on how he slimmed down to a single homescreen on his N8. Whilst his primary reason for doing so was organisation rather than battery life, Steve inspired me to have a go at “cutting out the clutter” for myself. So, to start with: what could I cast off?

Until this morning, I had settled on the following content for my three homescreens, with the clock widget on all three:

  1. “Organiser” functions—call/message notifications, calendar (ComingNext), contacts and Nokia Battery Monitor widgets;
  2. “Internet”—email, Nokia Social 1.3 (Twitter/Facebook), AccuWeather
  3. Anything else I felt like (FM transmitter, VoIP, music, Internet Radio, etc.)

I used to employ up to five “shortcut” widgets to provide quick-launch homescreen icons for my most-used apps, until a few days ago when I discovered Favourite Apps: this provides up to fifteen launcher icons in a single widget. I gratefully added two of these to my homescreens—screen 1’s contains mostly Internet apps, whilst screen 3’s was other apps I use a lot—and this saved some space. But I reckoned I could do better—it was now time to jettison a homescreen.

But which one? Homescreen 1 (“organiser” items) would have to stay put; I decided that screen 2 would also remain, but with a couple of changes. That left screen 3, which contained mostly “nice-to-have” widgets I could do without. I removed the Nokia Social (battery hog?) and Internet Radio widgets from screen 2, and moved in the WiFi and shortcut widgets from screen 3. Then I returned to screen 3, took a deep breath… and hit “Options/Delete home screen”.

The earth didn’t shake, and I’m still here.

Actually, I wonder why I didn’t do this before. I’m already enjoying there being less “clutter” on my N8, and I haven’t lost much functionality through jettisoning a homescreen—I can still carry out the tasks the old widgets catered for, if I need to.

Time will tell whether I notice any difference in the battery life, or whether I’ll end up reinstating that third homescreen after all. Whilst I doubt very much that I will go to Steve Litchfield’s extreme in the end, I have a feeling that I have found a setup on my N8 that works for me.

The quest for extending the device’s battery life, however, goes on…

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