Yes, we love our smartphones. Whether it’s texting, checking e-mail, playing Temple Run, or even making the occasional phone call, our smartphones have become constant companions, and our lifelines to family, friends and the outside world.
But while they may be our favorite gadgets, they can also be the source of intense frustration. And I’m not talking about dropped calls and poor reception. I am talking about battery life – or what perhaps should more accurately be described as battery death.
It doesn’t seem to matter how much battery life we have when we leave home in the morning, by lunchtime that happy green bar has turned a nasty red, and we are desperately trying to squeeze in one last e-mail before we are cut off in mid-sentence. While we have a half-day’s work left ahead of us, our smartphone has decided it has had enough, leaving us scrambling for a charger and a nearby power outlet.
But while more complex features and apps undoubtedly put a strain on the too-small batteries that are found in most smartphones, there are certain things that we can do to make the overnight charge last a little longer. Here are some suggestions:
Adjust the screen settings
One of the biggest drains on battery life is the smartphone screen. If you use your phone indoors most of the time, then you don’t need a bright screen or the auto-brightness setting that most smartphones default to. Use your display settings to take down the brightness a few notches and you will immediately notice the difference.
Similarly, most smartphones give you the option of adjusting the screen timeout length – the amount of time the screen stays bright after you stop using it. Make sure you adjust it to the shortest setting, so it quickly dims or blanks out when not in use.
Turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
While it may make sense to use your own Wi-Fi network when you are at home, you should switch off Wi-Fi and rely on your wireless carrier as soon as you leave your house. If Wi-Fi is left on, your smartphone will constantly be searching for networks – and draining battery – as you move from place to place.
Similarly, if you no longer have a need to connect to a Bluetooth headset or speaker turn off the Bluetooth pairing app. It will save the phone from constantly scanning for other Bluetooth-enabled devices.
Use GPS apps sparingly
Similarly, apps such as Maps or Facebook Places, which constantly use GPS technology to fix your whereabouts, will also quickly drain your battery. If you use these apps, make sure you properly exit or disable the app when you have finished using it.
Be wary of downloading non-essential apps that ask permission to track your location. Most of the time, they will just use that knowledge to serve local advertising – and drain your battery at the same time.
Although multi-tasking is a welcome and highly-promoted feature of many smartphones, keeping numerous apps open at the same time rapidly drains battery. If you use The Weather Channel app to get your local forecast, remember to exit the app when you have finished, otherwise it will continue to provide battery-draining updates as it runs in the background.
Turn off notifications
Most smartphones will automatically light-up, buzz, chime or flash when you receive a call, text, e-mail, voice-mail or any of the other 1,001 things that today’s smartphones can do. Consider whether you need these constant notifications and turn off the ones that aren’t essential.
Disable video auto-play
At the end of last year, Facebook introduced auto-playing videos and video ads, which means that a video starts to play as soon as you pause on it in your News Feed. Instagram and other video-sharing and social networking sites have similar features. The problem is that these videos can use up a lot of battery – and data – without you realizing it.
To disable video auto-play, open the Facebook (or Instagram) app and click on App Settings. Scroll down to Video Auto-play. Here you can decide whether you want video auto-play to be on, accessed only through Wi-Fi (to save on data) or turned off altogether. You can still play videos in the ‘off’ mode by clicking on the video itself but it will no longer automatically play as you pause over the update.
Consider a power-saving app
More recent devices like the Samsung Galaxy S4 come with built-in power saving apps. Examples of power saving tactics are limiting the power used to light the screen or turning off the phone’s haptic features (vibrations and other touch sensitive feedback).
If your phone doesn’t have a built-in app, consider downloading a third-party power-management app like JuiceDefender or GreenPower, which will ensure Wi-Fi and other battery-guzzling features are turned off when not required. They can also manage apps for more efficient use of the smartphone processing power.