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Grow Your Business Technology

12 Tips to Boost Your Smartphone's Battery Life

Smartphones
Average smartphones last 9 hours and 37 minutes on a charge. / Credit: Shutterstock

Mobile devices are handy and fun. But there's a downside: They all run on battery power, and the more you use them, the faster they drain and must be recharged. If there's an outlet or recharging station nearby, you've got nothing to worry about. But when you're out in the wild, conserving battery life can be a major necessity.

These days, most smartphone and tablet batteries are lithium ion or lithium polymer, and that's convenient because it means anytime is a good time to charge your battery. Lithium-ion mobile batteries are most often nonremovable, so you want to baby the one you have and maintain it properly. With this type of battery, you can charge it anytime – you don't need to let it completely drain to charge it back up to 100 percent. Here are some strategies you can use to conserve energy as you go about your day, without having to tote around an extended-life battery.

Don't let your battery power dwindle down to nothing. Try to keep batteries charged at an average 50 percent at all times. While you don't need to have your battery constantly plugged in, and the charger can control the electronic input to prevent damage, it's optimal to unplug the phone when power hits 100 percent. Periodic supplementary charges throughout the day work better than letting the battery drain to zero. 

Airplane Mode shuts down all radio signals to and from your device, halting the flow of email, messages, phone calls and Bluetooth connections. Sure, it's a bit uncomfortable to be completely out of the online loop, but that will conserve your battery, especially if you are running low in a place where you can't easily plug in.

Pulling down your Android quick settings tile lets you enable Airplane Mode with a tap. If you want to stop short of that drastic step, try turning off Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and NFC if you are not using them. On an iPhone, the on-off toggle is the first item in the settings pane. However, if you're wearing an Apple Watch or one of a number of Android-compatible watches, you'll need Wi-Fi or Bluetooth for certain watch features.

Keeping your apps updated will help your battery life. You can set your smartphone to update your apps automatically, or you can handle updates manually. Either way, it's a good idea to maintain the latest versions of mobile apps that your device supports. A major reason why developers often update apps is to optimize memory and battery power. Keep in mind that your phone is not a warehouse and that older or unneeded apps take up precious bandwidth and may even be running battery-draining processes in the background. So keep your phone tidy and up to date with only the apps you truly need and use.

On Android devices with AMOLED screens, black or dark wallpaper can conserve battery life. That's because the screen uses energy to illuminate only colored pixels. Black pixels are not lit, so less power is needed to run your phone. Live wallpapers tend to use somewhat more battery power than static ones, though their battery impact depends on how much animation is inherent in the design. If you're concerned about battery life, a static style is preferable.

Smartphone and tablet screens are huge battery hogs, but you can easily mitigate that effect, either automatically or manually. Always dial back screen brightness to the dimmest level you're comfortable with. Large, brightly lit AMOLED and LCD screens drain your battery fast. First, compare the brightness settings automatically generated by your handset with the optimal brightness for your own use. Often, the auto setting is brighter than you really want or need, so go ahead and override or disable it.

Many apps use location services that allow them to track your whereabouts. That may be convenient for travel apps or geotag-based photography, but keeping the setting on full time for all your device's apps may be a bit much if you're concerned about battery life. Most apps don't need to track your location when not in use, so you can pick and choose how each app uses location services and disable the option when you don't need it.

On an iPhone, open Settings and tap Privacy, and then choose "location services" and check all your apps to decide whether each can use location always, only while in use, or never. Android's location widget can also be tapped on or off from the Quick Settings tile.

Android and iOS widgets are unquestionably convenient for your everyday workflow, but they can sap your resources. Multiple internet-connected widgets – social media, mail, weather – constantly sync and update, draining your battery.

The remedy: remove excess and unneeded widgets, especially internet-connected ones. To clear them out on Android, long-press on a blank space on your home screen and drag the widgets you don't need into the trash. For iOS, swipe left on the home screen to access the widget pane and use the edit button to remove unnecessary widgets.

The Raise to Wake feature is enabled by default in more recent iPhones. That's the feature that lights the screen as soon as you lift your phone. While some users like it, it can wreak havoc on your battery life, especially if you're constantly toting your phone around in your hand. Turn off Raise to Wake in the settings by choosing Display & Brightness and toggling off Raise to Wake.

Haptic feedback occurs when you tap items on your screen and they emit a vibrating sensation to your finger or hand. Vibration and haptic feedback can be useful in certain situations, but having them constantly enabled can depress your battery life. At the very least, go into your settings and switch off vibration alerts for incoming calls, as those sometimes use more power to vibrate your phone than to ring.

Background App Refresh in iOS automatically updates the apps you use. Cool, for sure, but also a battery drain. For iOS, as with most controls, start with the settings and, in the General pane, disable Background App Refresh. You can switch it off for all apps, or just some that you can wait to update. For Android, the process works a bit differently. The easiest way to accomplish this is to halt background app operations completely. From the settings, find Applications under the Device pane and then go into the application manager to uninstall or force-stop any ones you like.

Both iOS and Android handsets and tablets offer a power-saving mode that automatically adjusts your settings to use the least amount of juice needed to operate. Admittedly, this is an emergency measure, but it can be the difference between an operative phone and a dead one. The iPhone's Low Power Mode shuts down all nonessential features. Just access the Battery pane under the settings and toggle the Low Power Mode slider to on. Android's power-saving mode is also accessible via the settings.

Your device is designed to perform well in a wide range of temperatures, with 62 to 72 degrees Farenheit as the ideal zone. Do not use your device in temperatures higher than 95 F, because it can permanently damage your battery so that it won't power your device for as long per charge. Charging or storing the device in high temperatures can cause extreme damage. When using your device in a very cold environment, you may see a drop in battery life, but this is temporary. Once the battery's temperature returns to normal range, performance will bounce back.

 

 

Jackie Dove

Jackie is an obsessive, insomniac freelance tech writer and editor in northern California. A wildlife advocate, cat fan, photo app fanatic, and VR/AR/3D aficionado, her specialties include cross-platform hardware and software, art, design, photography, video, and a wide range of creative and productivity apps and systems.