How to Double Your Smartphone’s Battery Life
What is the most frustrating thing about your brand new Smartphone? It might be the 10 percent battery drain per hour, or less if you phone is constantly searching for Wi-Fi networks or GPS satellites. Smartphones are becoming increasingly complex and at are requiring more and more power to operate. All across the internet users are complaining about the poor battery life of their new smartphones, much like they did when they got their first laptop. The battery never seems to last quite as long as you need it to. We all know it’s not reasonable to expect the phone to run 10 hours a day if you are on the phone even half of that time, but it would be nice to make it home with a little extra left in the reserve. A simple solution to battery woes, and this is what I have personally adopted, it to buy an extra battery, and keep it with you or in your bag. You can find these extra batteries online for sometimes under 10 dollars. Then, simply charge the extra battery at night only if you used it that day. If you can’t find an extra battery on the cheap, or simply don’t want the hassle of juggling two batteries, then you will need to be proactive in preventing unnecessary battery drain on your phone while you aren’t using it. New WiFi seeking technology is helping in this respect, using less power when finding networks, however for some users maximizing their smartphone battery is still mission critical. This article is for them.
For all of their features and versatility, smartphones–even the best of them–are still cursed with abysmal battery life. Unless you use your phone very sparingly (and who does that?), you’re lucky to make it home at the end of the day with enough juice left in the battery for one more call. But with the right apps and a little insight, you can double your smartphone’s battery life–and work (and play) longer than ever before.
Though some phones live a little longer than others on a single charge, all smartphones suffer from the same basic problem: They do too much. Any 3.7-volt battery small enough to fit into your phone’s tiny chassis stands no chance of lasting multiple days under a steady workload of running apps, browsing the Web, sending e-mail, and doing whatever else phones are expected to do. (Oh yeah, and actually making phone calls.)
The author’s HTC Thunderbolt is lucky to survive an entire business day on one charge. But with the tricks in this article, he manages to get home at night with a little juice left in the battery.
Most smartphone batteries today are rated at around 5 watt-hours, meaning that they can deliver a constant charge of 1 watt to the device over a period of 5 hours. If your phone actually uses 1 watt per hour, and you pull it off the charger at 7:00 a.m., you can expect it to be dead by lunchtime. Luckily most phones use a fraction of a watt an hour in standby mode, so they are more likely to last 10 hours or so; but most do use about a watt per hour when making calls. The key to increasing your phone’s battery life is to reduce the amount of power the handset uses per hour.
One obvious way to reduce your phone’s energy draw is to use it less (yeah, right). A more practical approach is to manage the phone’s power consumption by turning off unneeded features and turning down adjustable features. Turning off your phone’s radios when you’re not using them, reducing the screen’s brightness, and killing apps that run in the background are among the tricks that can help your phone’s battery last longer. Turn off Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, and all unnecessary programs. The more power drain you can prevent ahead of time, the more power your phone will have when you go to use it. Simple physics right? The other thing to keep in mind is your smartphone battery health. Proper care and feeding of a modern smartphone lithium ion battery is simple; charge your phone when it is dead, let it charge all the way, and don’t leave it on the charger for several hours after it is actually done charging. Leaving your smartphone constantly plugged in after it is done charging is training the battery to actually reduce the charge it maintains over time. This principle is true of laptops as well, since most of the time we leave the plugged in. Over time the battery life will detoriate in this fashion, until the point it no longer holds a reasonable charge, and this type of use isn’t covered b most warranties, as they refer to it as “battery abuse”.
First step in liberating your phone from the outlet is to uninstall all bloatware. There are a lot of applications that came pre-installed on your phone when it was brand new, some of these programs you will never use so uninstall them. The less applications you have installed on your phone, the better performance you will receive from it, both processing wise and battery life wise.
1. Dim the Screen
You love your smartphone’s large, colorful display, but it’s the battery’s mortal enemy. More than any other component of your phone, the display consumes battery life at a devastating pace. Most phones include an auto-brightness feature that automatically adjusts the screen’s brightness to suit ambient lighting levels and system activity. This mode uses less power than constantly running your screen at full brightness would, of course, but you’ll get even better results by turning your screen’s brightness down to the lowest setting that you can tolerate and leaving it there. Even if you do nothing else suggested in this guide, following this one tip will extend the life of your battery dramatically.
2. Keep the Screen Timeout Short
Under your phone’s display settings menu, you should find an option labeled ‘Screen Timeout’ or something similar. This setting controls how long your phone’s screen stays lit after receiving input, such as a tap. Every second counts here, so set your timeout to the shortest available time. On most Android phones, the minimum is 15 seconds. If your screen timeout is currently set to 2 minutes, consider reducing that figure to 30 seconds or less.
3. Turn off Bluetooth
Disable Bluetooth when you’re not using it, and your phone’s battery will last longer.
No matter how much you love using Bluetooth in the car or with your hands-free headset, the Bluetooth radio is constantly searching for signals from the outside world. When you aren’t in your car, or when you aren’t expecting a call that you’ll want to take via a headset, turn off the Bluetooth radio. (Besides, walking around with a Bluetooth headset in your ear when you’re not actually on a call doesn’t do anything positive for your street cred anyway.) By turning off Bluetooth when you’re not using it, you can add an hour or more to your phone’s battery life each day.
4. Turn off Wi-Fi When Not In Use
As with Bluetooth, your phone’s Wi-Fi radio is a serious battery killer. While you almost certainly should prefer the improved speed of your home or office Wi-Fi connection to your mobile carrier’s wireless broadband for data services, there’s no point in leaving the Wi-Fi radio on when you’re out and about. Toggle it off when you go out the door, and turn it back on only when you plan to use data services within range of your Wi-Fi network. Android users can add the Wi-Fi toggle widget to their home screen to make this a one-tap process.
5. Go Easy on the GPS
Another big battery sucker is your phone’s GPS unit, which is a little radio that sends and receives signals to and from satellites to triangulate your phone’s location on the Earth’s surface. Various apps access your phone’s GPS to provide services ranging from finding nearby restaurants to checking you in on social networks. As a user, you can revoke these apps’ access to your phone’s GPS. When you install them, many apps will ask you for permission to use your location. When in doubt, say no. (And if a game, screensaver, or wallpaper app asks for your location, you should be suspicious about why it wants that data in the first place.)
6. Kill Extraneous Apps
Multitasking–the ability to run more than one app at a time–is a powerful smartphone feature. It also burns a lot of energy, because every app you run uses a share of your phone’s processor cycles. By killing apps that you aren’t actually using, you can drastically reduce your CPU’s workload and cut down on its power consumption. For Android phones–which are notorious battery hogs due to their wide-open multitasking capabilities–we like an app called Advanced Task Killer, which has an auto-kill feature that polices your apps throughout the day. In iOS, double-tap the Home button until the multitasking tray appears, hold an icon until an X appears, and tap the X to close the app.
7. Don’t Use Vibrate
Prefer to have your phone alert you to incoming calls by vibrating rather than playing a ringtone? We understand the inclination; unfortunately, vibrating uses more power than playing a ringtone does. After all, a ringtone only has to make a tiny membrane in your phone’s speaker vibrate enough to produce sound. For vibrate alert, the vibration motor swings a small weight around to make your whole phone shake–and that process consumes a lot more juice. If you don’t want to be disturbed audibly, consider turning off all notifications and leave the phone in view so you can see when a new call is coming in. This approach is as courteous to your battery as it is to your friends and neighbors.
8. Turn off Nonessential Notifications
It seems as though almost every app in the world now trolls the Internet in search of updates, news, messages, and other information. When it finds something, the app may chime, light up your screen and display a message, make your LED blink, or do all of the above. These things consume energy. Admittedly you likely don’t want to turn off notifications about new text messages or missed calls, but you don’t need to be instantly alerted that radboy84 has just bested your score at Booty Blast. Turning off superfluous notifications will help your battery last a little longer, and it will eliminate pointless distractions throughout your day.
9. Power Saver Mode for Android
*Note JuiceDefender automatically adjusts your phone’s settings throughout the day to keep battery consumption in check.
Newer Android phones include a Power Saver mode that helps manage the phone’s various power-sapping features for you. Power Saver mode automatically prevents your apps from updating in the background, dims your screen, reduces the screen timeout setting, disables on-screen animations, and turns off vibration. By default, this mode usually turns on when your battery level drops below 20 percent, but you can set it to kick in at 30 percent instead. The sooner the phone switches to Power Saver mode, the longer its battery will last overall.
10. JuiceDefender for Android
By manually adjusting all of your phone’s settings over the course of a day, you may be able to squeeze a few extra usable hours out of your battery; however if the effort sounds too cumbersome to you, consider downloading an app that manages your battery for you. On Android phones, we’ve seen great results from JuiceDefender, which automatically toggles your radios on and off and manages your phone’s CPU usage to optimize your battery life moment-to-moment. One drawback to this application is that it will turn off data when you are not using the phone, so any downloads will be automatically paused when you aren’t actively using the phone. This will also disable automatic updates, which may not be ideal for some users; however on the whole, it’s not a bad app for doing what it’s supposed to do.
Following the tips and tricks in this article, you will see your battery life improve. Who knows, it might just make the difference between having a dead phone when you need it most; or having just enough battery life to make it through the day.