10 ways to extend your smartphone's battery life

10 ways to extend your smartphone's battery life

Credit: AFP/Getty Images

A picture taken on October 12, 2011 in the French western city of Rennes shows (FromL) a Samsung phone, a Blackberry phone and an Iphone 4. AFP PHOTO / DAMIEN MEYER (Photo credit should read DAMIEN MEYER/AFP/Getty Images)

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Posted on April 28, 2014 at 7:37 AM

Marc Saltzman, Special for USA TODAY

It really doesn't matter what kind of smartphone you rely on for work or play — be it an iPhone, Android device, Windows Phone or BlackBerry — the more these pocket-sized computers can do, the more pressure it can put on the battery.

If you're finding your smartphone is petering out before you're ready to, consider these tips to squeeze more battery life between charges.

1. DIM THE SCREEN

Turning down the brightness of your smartphone screen will help preserve battery life. Look in the Options or Settings menu. You'll get used to the dimmer screen after a short while. On a related note, also set your screen to turn off after a minute or so of inactivity.

2. TURN OFF RADIOS YOU DON'T USE

Unless you need them, turn off as many of your phone's wireless radios as you can. That includes GPS, Bluetooth, NFC and Wi-Fi. Or, in a pinch, turn off all radios, including cellular connectivity, by selecting the "airplane mode." (Tip: Your phone will charge up much faster when in airplane mode, too.)

3. TURN OFF PUSH NOTIFICATIONS

If you can, turn off "push" services or reduce the frequency in which you ask your smartphone to receive new information, such as incoming e-mail messages. The phone needs to "ping" a server to send you the updated data each time. Instead, choose to pull down messages when you need to. Android users can see an organized breakdown of what's consuming your phone's battery in the Settings area.

4. USE WI-FI OVER CELLULAR

If you'd like to access online content, use Wi-Fi instead of cellular connectivity when possible. This will require you to join a wireless network at home or the office, or when you're in a public hot spot, such as a café, hotel lobby or airport lounge. Wi-Fi has been proven to be less taxing on your battery than using cellular (3G/4G) service.

5. REMEMBER TO LOCK IT

Always lock your smartphone when you aren't using it. You'll still be able to receive calls and texts, but you aren't accidentally turning on the phone when it's in your pocket or purse (because you hit a button or the screen). After all, there's nothing more embarrassing than calling someone by accident — especially when it's 2 a.m.

6. APPS MATTER

The battery will drain faster if you're using the phone for tasks that are more demanding on the system's resources, such as watching video or playing multiplayer games, than less taxing tasks, such as typing notes or reading an electronic book. Multitasking — listening to music while surfing the Web, for example — can also contribute to faster battery drain. On a related note, some apps drain your battery more than others (such as ones with many online advertisements). "Live" widgets and wallpaper will drain the battery, too.

7. MAKE SURE THE APP IS CLOSED

Be sure to properly close an app when you're not using it, as it still might be running in the background and, thus, using up power (and possibly data). With iPhones, for example, double-tap the Home button and swipe up to close open apps. Similarly, press and hold the home button on an Android device and swipe to the right to close open apps.

8. ROOM TEMP IS BEST

If you can help it, don't keep your phone in hot or cold temperatures, like leaving it on your car's dashboard on a sweltering summer day or frigid winter night. Both scenarios could prematurely drain your battery. Ideally, smartphones work best from, say, 32 degrees to 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

9. SOFTWARE UPDATES

Be sure you download the latest software updates (sometimes referred to as "firmware") as smartphone engineers are always trying out new ways to improve power management. This can be performed when the smartphone is attached to a computer via USB cable or over a Wi-Fi connection.

10. EXTRA BATTERY

Many phones have fitted battery packs to extend battery life — doubling it, in most cases — and they often serve as added protection if banged around. Or you can carry around portable lithium-ion battery boosts that plug into your smartphone via USB cable, if needed (the higher the mAh number, the more times it can charge up your device).

 

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