AppsHow To

How to save battery and install lightweight versions of apps


Bad battery life is a pretty common gripe among smartphone users these days. As phones get more advanced, the battery is required to do more work. To make matters worse, a lot of popular apps are notorious battery hogs. The good news is you don’t have to use the full battery-sucking apps.

The rise of affordable phones in emerging markets has lead to several popular services releasing “Lite” versions of their apps. These apps are built to work on devices that don’t have super processors and big batteries. They’re simple, easy on the battery, and in some cases, superior to their full version counterparts.

The one catch is you can’t install these Lite apps from the Play Store. Like I said, they were created for emerging markets, not the U.S. But this is Android and things like that don’t stop us. You can easily install the APKs. Just make sure to allow “Unknown sources” in your Security settings.


Facebook is probably the biggest offender when you think of apps that drain the battery. Thankfully, Facebook offers Lite versions of the main app and Messenger. Facebook Lite has an outdated interface, but it does basically the same things as the full app. The Lite app uses less than 3MB of space, whereas the full app uses 190MB.

If you don’t want to deal with installing APKs, or you don’t like the Lite interface, the Facebook mobile site is very nice. It looks almost identical to the full app, but it runs right in your browser. You can add the bookmark to your home screen to make it easy to launch.

In my opinion, the crown jewel of Lite apps is Messenger Lite. What was once a simple, clean app has become a landfill of trendy features. It can do a million and a half different things, but most people just want to have conversations. The Lite version is super simple and fast. I’ve been using it for a while and I absolutely love it.

The one downside to Messenger Lite is you don’t get the handy GIF sharing feature. You can still share photos, voice messages, and stickers. And you can still view GIFs from your friends, but if you want to send a GIF it will have to be from outside of the app. A small price to pay in my opinion.


Twitter doesn’t have a Lite app, but they do have a Lite web version at It looks like a slightly cleaner version of the full app. Like Messenger Lite, there are some small drawbacks. You can’t upload videos and the GIF search feature isn’t available. But you can still upload photos and create polls.

The Lite site even has a Data Saver feature. Tap your profile photo and toggle on the switch for Data Saver. Add the bookmark to your home screen and it will behave like any other app. You can even enable notifications in Chrome.


The Instagram app isn’t known for being particularly bad for battery life, but maybe you want to do as much as you can. Instagram has the same approach as Twitter. Simply head to in your mobile browser and you’ll be greeted with a familiar interface. You can still crop and rotate photos, but the filters and photo editing tools aren’t available.


Skype Lite is an Android app that was built for India, but you can download the APK in the U.S. If you hate the radical redesign of the full app, you might want to check out the Lite version. The interface is very clean and simple. You can still have regular text conversations and voice calls. If you don’t use Skype often, but need it occasionally, this APK might be a nice option.


Gmail is another service that has a lite mobile site. The interface looks a little outdated, but all the basic Gmail functionality is there. Obviously, this is not something you’re going to use if you’re a heavy email user, but it’s a nice option if you only send a few emails a week. With Chrome you can still get notifications so you don’t miss any emails.

It may seem counter-intuitive to some people, but you don’t need a lot of apps on your phone. In some situations, it makes more sense to use your browser. A lot of popular services have mobile websites. If you’re not an avid Facebooker, why keep the full app on your phone? If you only read the news once in a while, do you need a dedicated app for it? Using Lite apps and your browser is an easy way to save battery.

Joe Fedewa
Ever since I flipped open my first phone I've been obsessed with the devices. I've dabbled in other platforms, but Android is where I feel most at home.

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