This post was published 7 years, 9 months ago. Due to the rapidly evolving world of technology, some material it contains may no longer be applicable.
Okay so we have all been there, you’re out and about flashing off your toy to your friends (no, not that, you dirty-minded little bugger!) and then your phone gives you the dreaded low battery warning and turns off. Yep, it’s a fact: smartphones have crappy battery life.
Until mobile battery technology is greatly improved, this is only going to become more of a problem. More and more kit is crammed into these phones demanding more and more power. Also, phones are getting thinner and thinner leaving less room for the battery. Then to make matters even worse we are using our phones more and more frequently as our dependence on them grows.
Every time that battery goes dead you are left feeling bare, so what can be done about it? Quite often people decide to deal with this problem by turning off loads of the phones features or by adding massive battery but that is plain ridiculous!
The whole point of a smartphone is that it’s A: smart and B: portable. There’s no point having one if you make it massive and heavy or you turn off all its features. I mean why have a smartphone at all, with its features turned off it’s more of a ‘dumbphone’. Similarly, a massive bulky phone is nearly as stupid as trying to cram a laptop in your pocket!
Luckily, I have made a list of top tips for you to keep your little droid lasting longer without carrying out such absurd and extreme methods:
- Use Android Power Control widget
Admittedly, the most effective way of maintaining battery life is often indeed to dumb-down your all-powerful superphone by switching off features – but do it in a smarter way. Don’t just leave everything turned off all the time, or you may as well still be using that Nokia 6610.
Android has a handy little home screen widget that flips Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and other power-hungry options on and off with a single press take the pain out of switching features off so if there are certain things you don’t use regularly: turn them off and then when you do need them they can be quickly activated again.
- Ease off on the status updates
Do you really need to be pinged every two minutes about a new Tweet or email? Lower the notification frequency in any apps that constantly update you on the minutiae of everything everyone does, ever, and you’ll maybe still have a bit of battery left by bed time. So you can tweet that it’s your bed time. Then tweet ‘night night’.
- Disable 3G connectivity
Good old 2G is perfect for calls and texts, so kill 3G unless you’re planning a bit of emergency web browsing on your phone. You’ll also benefit from the general feeling of increased calmness that follows naturally once you’ve stopped staring at the 3G icon every two minutes and fretting about what your mobile network connection state is.
- Lower the screen brightness
I know I know it’s impressive to show off your stunning AMOLED display by setting it so bright you could use it the signal planes to land, but it’s completely unnecessary! It’s much better for your eyes, the screen and your battery to keep brightness set to a sensible level.
If your phone has a light sensor then set your phone to auto brightness. This will maintain visibility when out in the sun but keep your brightness lower when you indoors or in the shade – saving you vital battery life.
Some people seem to have the misconception that using auto brightness will somehow cost them battery, but the reality is that the light sensor is actually passive and the feature requires an insignificant amount of processing power. The feature itself won’t waste your battery; more likely than not, it will save you power.
- Turn off GPS
GPS is a monster power-drainer, and it’s barely of any use most of the time. Is it? Really? Most apps can make do with network-based location, so unless you’re actually doing a bit of serious satnav action, switch it off. You’ll be able to hear your battery sigh with relief. Seriously, try holding your phone to your ear as you switch it off.
- Get a higher capacity battery
You’re probably wondering why I am suggesting this after my initial rant but bigger batteries are the most simple way of getting extra life out of your phone without changing your usage.
What people tend to do then, is get bigger batteries. These stick out and add weight, bulk and ruin the sleek look of your phone. So what if you could have a ‘bigger battery’ without having a ‘bigger battery’. Well thanks to the Japanese you can have just that – higher capacity batteries in pretty much the same size/form factor and as the original one that came with your phone – magic!*
Battery manufacturers such as Mugen and SEIDO offer extended batteries for many different phone models. They do those big fat chunky batteries with extended covers I loath but they also do batteries the same size as your stock one but with quite a chunk more juice. Their usable capacities often are not quite as much as the mAh ratings on them claim but you can usually notice an improvement.Often they are a hair or so thicker or heavier but not so much that they don’t fit in place or that you’d notice in use.
Be careful with some of the no-brand batteries though because there are some awful ones out there that will actually be much worse than your stock battery. Always check reviews first!
7. Monitor everything
The ‘Battery Use’ tab under Settings/About Phone will give you a detailed breakdown of what’s absorbing the most power, letting you take manual control – and delete any power-hungry apps or turn off power-hungry hardware features. Try replacing them with alternatives and see if there’s a difference. One rogue app that sucks power on your particular phone could be the problem.
8. Set a Wi-Fi timeout
Navigate to your phone’s ‘Wi-fi Settings’ tab and then press the Menu button. From here, you’re able to manually select a timeout option for the Wi-Fi connection – one of the biggest power drains on idle phones. It may make your phone take longer to connect to Wi-Fi when you wake it up, and therefore feel a little less ‘smart’, but at least it’ll still be significantly smarter than a lump of useless plastic with a dead battery.
9. Go darker…
Phone screens, particularly AMOLED ones, use more energy when displaying brighter, whiter colours. So ditch that vibrant wallpaper and select a nice, dark home-screen background, then enjoy not having to reach for the charger for at least an extra minute every day.
10. Install a time-sensitive power manager
There are plenty of time and location sensitive apps on the Android Market which automatically handle your phone’s power and communications settings. For example, there’s no point leaving your phone connected to the mobile network while you’re asleep – so a simple app like Airplane Autoswitch, which kills all radio communications, will save loads of power and also help you sleep uninterrupted by notification pings. Set it to activate Airplane mode at your usual bedtime, then get it to fire itself up again when you wake up. Simple, and your battery will make it through the night with only a minuscule drain.
11. Put your phone somewhere there’s a good reception
Your phone uses more power when it’s looking for mobile mast signal, so, believe it or not, your battery will last much longer if you leave your phone in a place where it gets a good reception. Put it on the other side of your desk, or on the windowsill. It will make a difference.
12. Don’t drain the battery right down
The old advice to completely drain your battery to ensure proper operation doesn’t stand any more, thanks to modern lithium-ion batteries. They don’t have the charge memory issues that affected previous generation cells, and in fact perform better if you regularly charge them and keep them topped up. So be kind – don’t drain them to zero and they will live a longer, healthier life.