Smartphones are getting smarter by the day. Faster processors, more memory, bigger, brighter screens. But all this technology means increased demands on the battery, and battery technology is moving much slower than other components. Learning how to reduce the power demands on your smartphone will help extend the life your handset so it’s always there when you need it, and save a little bit of money too as you will go longer between charges.
- Disable unused features: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and GPS are all useful, but if you’re not actually making use of them at a particular time, disable those settings until required. They use a lot of extra battery life, GPS and Wi-Fi in particular. You will notice a big increase in battery life with this simple act.
- Switch off mobile data: Similar to the above, mobile Internet access is another thing which uses a great deal of battery power. On any smartphone this will be enabled all the time by default as it is needed for things like email, syncing data and grabbing updates from apps like Twitter. If you can live without this stuff being on all the time, then disable mobile data until it is required. This will do more to extend battery life than anything else. If you would still like to keep some data enabled, you could set the phone to use 2G rather than 3G data as this uses less power.
- Automate your handset: Disabling mobile data and Wi-Fi will save your battery but can also be inconvenient as so many apps rely on net access to function. If it is possible on your phone, automating these functions to activate at particular times or locations will allow your smartphone to provide all those cool extras but still massively improve its longevity. If you have an Android, the Tasker app provides a huge amount of control over all aspects of the phone. It can disable data at night, switch on Wi-Fi when you get home, automatically lower screen brightness and disable data when the battery is low and much, much more. There is also Juice Defender, which performs similar automation dedicated to battery saving. iPhone users with a jailbroken phone can use MyProfile, though this is far more limited.
- Lower screen brightness: A brighter screen looks better and is easier to use in sunlight but is one of the most demanding parts of a smartphone. So lower the brightness to reduce energy usage. On many phones this can be done automatically, with the handset matching brightness to the ambient light level. However, this is not always perfect, so you may find it easier to just adjust the setting manually.
- Battery best practice: Contrary to popular belief you don’t need to completely discharge then charge the Li-ion batteries in smartphones to make them more efficient. In fact they should not be allowed to completely run out and actually have safeguards against this to prevent damage. Once your phone switches off from low power, do not keep turning it on, and charge it as soon as possible. Nor is it necessary to charge a Li-ion battery for eight hours before the first use. The battery should not be allowed to get too hot either as this can reduce its life; so take it out your pocket if it is feeling a bit warm. And if the phone is going to be left unused for a long period you should charge the battery to about 40-50 per cent before shutting it down, this will help retain its efficiency.
Feature image copyright: warrensk. Reused under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License.