Unlike the 1990s, today’s cell phones do much more than make and receive phone calls. Now the equivalent of micro-tablets, we have all the more reasons to use them throughout the day and that drains the battery. Here are some tips to help your phone battery last the whole day, plus a couple of tips to help it perform at a high level long-term.
- Dim the screen & use auto-brightness. Your screen is the biggest battery drainer on your phone. Lower the screen brightness to the lowest level you are comfortable with. Your eyes will adjust to the new brightness. Most phones have an auto-brightness feature which detects the amount of light in your environment and brightens your screen to maintain readability.
- Shorten the screen timeout. Having your screen on when you’re not looking at it is a waste of battery. Every time your phone shares a notification with you, the screen turns on and the notification is displayed. You can set the amount of time your screen stays on after a notification is shared.
- Turn off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. These two wireless technologies can be huge battery drains. Turn them off if you aren’t using them. The exception is if you are near a strong Wi-Fi spot—you can actually save battery over the cell network.
- Don’t use vibrate. Vibrating alerts take battery usage to the next level by forcing your battery to accelerate a physical object. As you might guess, it takes more energy to move a physical object than to read something on flash memory.
- Turn off or limit GPS tracking and location services. Apps on your phone will track your movements if you allow them. If not for privacy reasons, it’s best to stop this practice to save your battery. Do you really need your apps to know where you are? For maps? Sure. For a game? Probably not. The good news is that you can control GPS settings for each app individually. You can allow maps to always use your location, only use your location when the app is in use, or to never use your location.
- Turn off push notifications. Push notifications are generated by an app when your phone actively checks for an update. You can open your Facebook app to check for notifications (pull notifications), or you phone can do it automatically and display a notification on your home screen (push notification). While convenient, the problem is that your phone does this often throughout the day and it will burn through your battery, whether it’s checking for Facebook notifications or emails. You can disable this feature, and on some phones you can limit it to every 30 minutes or so.
- Update your operating system and apps. Software updates are often more efficient and help your battery last longer. (Plus they often make your phone more secure by eliminating known security flaws.)
- Long-term—Keep your phone out of the heat. A battery dwelling above 86°F is considered to be at an elevated temperature and temperatures above 95°F can permanently damage your battery! These temperatures can be reached if your phone is in your pocket on a hot summer day while struggling to maintain a connection to the cell network, and your car can reach 120°F after just 30 minutes outside on a summer day. Don’t leave your phone in your car.
- Long-term—Keep your battery above 5% and never drain it to 0%. Your battery can lose permanent capacity when completely drained. Modern phones provide numerous warnings when battery levels approach single digits. Heed them.