Your smartphone has become almost an extension of your persona. Not only is it always with you, but its contents often reflect your life and state of mind. Unlike you, it runs on battery power and must be recharged often to function properly. If you’re constantly near a power source, you never have to worry, but without a charging station nearby, conserving battery life is part of the price you pay for your device’s smarts.
Most smartphone batteries are lithium ion or lithium polymer, technology that is long overdue for an update. Lithium-ion mobile batteries are generally not removable in most popular smartphone models, so take a cautious approach to caring for them, with an eye toward maintenance and longevity. You can charge a lithium-based battery any old time – you don’t have to let it completely drain before charging it back up to 100%.
Here are some strategies you can use every day to conserve battery life and the life of your precious handset, without having to throw an extended-life battery or a portable charger into your backpack.
Don’t let your battery die
Try to keep batteries charged at an average 50% or above most of the time — at the very least somewhere between 40% and 80% — to preserve an optimal life span. Even though your charger can control electronic input to prevent damage, you should unplug the phone when power hits 100% and, if possible, avoid overnight charging.
Periodic charges throughout the day are more effective in preserving the overall life of your battery than letting it drain down to zero and charge back up to 100%. Not all batteries are the same, and different batteries respond to various charging schedules, but one thing is certain: All batteries will degrade eventually. It’s also best not to let your battery fully discharge too often, so try to charge it before it drops too low. When you do charge it, be sure to use the adapter that came with it and plug it into the wall socket — not your computer or your car’s USB adapter.
Airplane Mode is your battery’s friend
Airplane Mode cuts off all radio signals to and from your phone, halting email, messages, phone calls, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth connections. This may make life uncomfortable for people used to being perpetually connected, but it’s a great help in conserving your battery when you don’t have anywhere to recharge. Swipe down on your Android Quick Settings tile and tap to enable Airplane Mode. On an iPhone, it’s available as a toggle within the Settings. To stop short of such a sweeping disconnect, you can individually disable Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, and NFC if you are not using them. Note that if you’re also wearing an Apple Watch or an Android-compatible watch, you’ll need Wi-Fi or Bluetooth for some watch features to function properly.
Update your apps and clean house
As soon as you see an app has released an update, jump on it because that will help maintain your battery. Developers upgrade their apps periodically, and part of the reason is to optimize memory and device battery life. Such updates are often tagged as bug fixes in the update notes on the app or in Google Play Store. They may not be splashy or rock new features, but they will help keep your smartphone battery in good working order.
Keep your phone tidy and up to date with only the apps you need and use. Your phone is not the place to get sentimental about old favorites. If you don’t use ’em, lose ’em because every app that takes up needless bandwidth on your phone may be running battery-draining routines in the background. You can set your smartphone to update your apps automatically, or you can handle updates manually. Manually is better for preserving battery life.
Use dark wallpaper
Most people love wallpaper, especially the animated kind — it’s one of the fun parts of having a phone. But that viewing pleasure comes at the expense of your battery. On Android devices with AMOLED displays, black or dark wallpaper conserves battery life because the screen uses energy to illuminate only colored pixels. Black pixels are not lit and require less power to maintain the image. Not to mention, dark wallpapers are easy on the eyes and look absolutely gorgeous. Live wallpapers aren’t fatal, but they tend to use more battery power than static ones, though the effect is variable. Generally, it’s a good idea to go with static wallpaper, for the sake of your battery.
Dim the screen
Large, brightly lit AMOLED and LCD screens not only drain your battery fast, but hit you right between the eyes. Always decrease screen brightness to the lowest level you’re comfortable with. First, compare the screen brightness automatically set by your phone with the optimal brightness for your eyes. Often, the auto setting is brighter than you need, so feel free to override or disable it. Go to Settings > Display > Brightness on Android or Settings >Display & Brightness on an iPhone and make adjustments using the slider. You can also lower the screen timeout period by tapping Auto-Lock on the iPhone and Settings > Display > Screen timeout on Android. Set it as low as you can without it becoming too frustrating.
Disable location services
Most people don’t want or need their smartphone apps following them around, convenient though it may be if you’re using travel apps or geotagging your photos. Keeping location services on full time for all your apps is not only intrusive and unnecessary, but it also affects battery life. Most apps don’t need to track your location in the background, so first choose how each of your installed apps uses location services and disable the option whenever you can. On an iPhone, go to Settings > Privacy > Location services and decide which apps can use location always, only while in use, or never. You can also toggle Android’s location widget from the Quick Settings tile.
As with most things in life, there’s an app for preserving your battery — even though most battery savings result from more efficient hardware and settings. Battery-monitoring apps help you identify what is depleting your battery and compromising its overall condition. They let you save juice without having to dig into individual features or do a lot of manual tweaking. Some apps come with features that help you configure device settings to maximize your battery life. Power Battery for Android lets you view battery consumption data, including which apps blow through the most power over time, while a variety of power-saving settings and presets let you tweak your settings to get the most time from your available juice. The free Extra Battery for iOS offers useful insights and reminders for keeping your battery tip-top.
Ditch the widgets, pause the notifications
Android and iOS widgets are certainly convenient for your everyday life, but they can sap your battery’s resources. Multiple internet-connected widgets – social media, mail, weather – constantly sync and update, draining your battery. To remove unneeded widgets on iOS, swipe left on the home screen to get to the widget pane, then scroll to the bottom and tap the Edit button to add or remove widgets. On Android, tap and hold a widget icon on the home screen and drag any you don’t want into the trash. While you’re at it, switch off push notifications for email updates and nonessential services.
Disable app refresh, vibrate, and haptic feedback
Background App Refresh in iOS and Android automatically updates your apps. That’s cool, but it’s also a battery drain that may catch you at the wrong time. Here’s the fix: For iOS, go to Settings > General and disable Background App Refresh. You can switch it off for all apps, or just selected ones. For Android, the easiest way is to halt background app operations completely: Go to Settings > Applications >Application Manager to disable any ones you want.
Both iOS and Android phones offer a power-saving mode that automatically adjusts your settings to use the least amount of juice needed to operate. Low Power Mode shuts down all nonessential features. For the iPhone, access Settings > Battery > Low Power Mode to toggle it on or off. Android’s power-saving mode is also accessible via the settings. Sure, this is an emergency measure, but it can spell the difference between a functioning phone and a dead one.
If your smartphone has a removable battery, you can always keep a charged-up spare on hand. Some protective cases have a built-in battery designed for certain models, which means that you’ll find plenty for the iPhone, like the Mophie Juice Pack, but you might have to do some digging to find one for other phone brands. Chargers that fit the lighter socket in your car are a sweet deal for extending battery while you’re on the road, especially if you use your smartphone for navigation.
Avoid extreme heat or cold
Charging or storing your smartphone in high temperatures can cause extreme damage. Your device is designed to perform well in a wide range of temperatures, with 62- to 72-degrees Farenheit as the ideal zone. Do not use your device in temperatures higher than 95 F, because it can permanently damage your battery so that it won’t power your device for as long per charge. When using your device in a very cold environment, you may see a temporary drop in battery life, but once the battery’s temperature climbs back to normal range, performance will improve.