Smartphone batteries have come a long way in recent years. They have greater capacities and phones that use the charge more efficiently. The problem is that the amount and type of things we do with our smartphones. That outstrips battery technology by some distance.
It used to be that playing music would slowly drain the battery. Then came movies which would suck it dry in a couple of hours, and then came apps. Lots and lots of apps, with notifications. Twitter and Facebook apps that seem to strangle the very life out of a battery just by being open. Games utilize every ounce of processor power just to move a single object across the screen. Bluetooth, mobile data, even Wi-Fi are all sneaking bits of your hard-earned charge out from behind your back. So what can you do to eke out another hour or two from your grossly overworked smartphone?
Let’s start with the easy ones. Unless you have a car which connects to your phone via Bluetooth, or have other devices that need it, why do you even have it switched on? Turn it off and enable it when you need it. It won’t save a ton of battery power, but every little will help.
Same with Wi-Fi. Unless you’re going somewhere where you know you’ll get Wi-Fi, turn it off. Your smartphone will constantly look for valid wi-fi networks wherever you are, and every check takes a bit more out of the battery.
It’s a little less certain with mobile data and cell signals generally but, if you know with concrete certainty that you won’t get a signal wherever you are, temporarily disable your network connection. Airplane mode will do if you have no connectivity options, otherwise just disable cell capability. When we mentioned about Wi-Fi taking power unnecessarily, your smartphone constantly looking for a cell connection will use a ton of charge.
This is another surefire battery killer. If you have apps that work in the background even when not open, looking for notifications, the hit on your battery will be considerable. If you absolutely have to have notice that someone has mentioned you on Twitter, then use the app settings to reduce the frequency of the checks. The same goes for Facebook or anything else under the rather broad heading of social media.
Even e-mail apps should be set up to make sure they work for you. Most emails can wait for a reply, so don’t be afraid to increase the time between checks. If you have an email account for work, then by all means have that setup for IMAP push notices so you get all emails instantly, but then make your personal account much less frequent. All these things cost a lot in power terms, so limit them to the absolute minimum.
We also include the stock Google apps on Android phones in this, as they are usually all enabled to notify or check status by default. Go into your settings and turn them off.
Location, Location, Location
Turn off all location services unless absolutely necessary. Why do you want your phone telling you you’re in Burger King when you already know? GPS is the single biggest user of power on a smartphone. Try running online maps for a journey of more than about 2 hours, and it won’t get you there.
Your smartphone only uses a tiny bit of power to produce a ringtone, but it uses much more on vibrate. Resist the inclination to have vibrate on for everything, including key presses, notifications or even text.
Turn the brightness of your screen down a little. It may take a bit of use to become accustomed to, but you’ll soon forget all about it. The screen is another big hit on battery life, so also think about shortening the timeout period so it turns off the display much faster than it’s doing already. Incidentally, don’t use Auto-Brightness even if your phone supports it. The top level of brightness is usually way too bright and will be used more than not. Find a comfortable setting in all light levels and stick to it.
On your home screen use a black wallpaper. Pixels are only lit up by the phone to display color so, if there’s no color needed (and black pixels don’t need it), no battery is being used to light it up. Your app icons will use some power, but there’s no reason to use more than you need.
The Li-ion battery in your smartphone actually benefits from regular charging. It can end up with less overall capacity if it is constantly allowed to run down to zero. Charge your smartphone every night as a matter of routine. Not only will it keep your battery in tip-top shape, it also means you’ll always have maximum power at the start of every day, just in case life suddenly gets heavy on you.
All these tips apply to all smartphones, and are not specific to any brand or any operating system. Use them, and you’ll be able to thank us a couple of hours later than you would have been able to otherwise.