Making The Most Of Your Smartphone’s Battery Life

While most new phones come with enough battery power to last a while when they are new, if you’re phone is getting up there in years (or let’s face it, if it’s getting up there in months), then your battery might not quite be up for what it used to. Here are some tips on how to prolong your batteries life. They may come in handy for you if you’re phone is old or you can’t access a charger and need to maximize its usefulness until you can get ahold of one.


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Minimize screen use                                                                                            

Screens are one of the phone’s top battery eaters, meaning you can control a number of ways to reduce your power consumption. Dimming your screen is an essential way to increase your battery life – you can use the automatic brightness function that comes with some devices or set the brightness to the dimmest setting you can still read.  This can extend your battery life for quite a while.

Remember to lock the phone when you put it down.  It shuts off the screen and stops a number of background functions. Even better though, is if you turn the phone off if you know you won’t use it for a few hours. Turning the phone on and off a lot will drain the battery faster, but if you can resist checking your email for a few hours, shut it off to stop all processes and network activity.

Finally, many phones come with options to control the amount of time before the screen time out occurs. Shorten the timeout to as little time as possible that doesn’t drive you crazy from blanking out while you are reading an email.

Eliminate unnecessary processes      

Things running in the background, checking the internet to give you unnecessary Twitter updates and other processes you may not even know are running can take up a good amount of battery power.  Close everything and consider downloading an app that minimizes background processes for you.   The New York Times ran an extensive piece on such apps in December. Minimizing the number of notifications you allow can also help you extend your battery life.

Shut off the bells and whistles when not in use

Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, G3 and G4 all consume battery power even when you are not using the phone, mostly due to background processes. These are also an issue when their respective signals are weak, causing the phone to repeatedly search for signal. Disabling these when you are not using them will conserve battery power.

Shut off the vibrations

Some people prefer the relatively less obtrusive vibration settings to obnoxious ringtones, but operating mechanisms that physically shake your device take a lot more battery power than simply emitting sound. If you’re looking to save power, set the phone to ring rather than vibrate.

Batteries don’t like extreme temperatures

Ever notice how fast your camera dies when you are skiing on a fourteener in Colorado?  It’s because colder than normal temperatures drain the batteries faster. The same is true for hotter than normal temperatures. Don’t leave your phone in a hot car, and even consider taking it out of your pocket if you aren’t bound to forget it every chance you get.

Consider accessories

You could carry a charger with you, but that can get cumbersome quickly. However, there are other accessories that can be helpful. One is an emergency battery you can buy plug into your phone that you can use to give you those extra few hours when you are desperate. Another is an iPhone case that has a battery stored within it. When your phone’s internal battery dies, it draws the charge from that one.  Mashable mashes up 7 of these nifty devices.

For further reference

If you’re still looking for other ideas, check out LifeHacker’s exhaustive guide on conserving batteries, with specific tips for iPhone, Blackberry, Android, Windows Mobile, and even a few for Palm Pre and Symbian.

Kate Simmons is a tech writer, blogger and gadget enthusiast. She currently represents

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