Cell phones, originally used for little more than calls and text messages, have evolved into all-in-one entertainment devices. Your smartphone plays videos, music and games, and many include lightning-fast Web browsing and a robust app library. Use these features for more than a few hours, though, and your phone’s battery charge may not last longer than a day. You can coax more life out of your phone by charging the battery correctly and tweaking a few power-hungry settings.
To get the most out of your smartphone’s battery, you’ll need to charge it properly. Most smartphones have a lithium-ion battery that lives longer when charged regularly. Unlike the nickel batteries used in older phones, lithium-ion batteries do best when kept above a 50 percent charge. Repeatedly allowing the battery to drain fully may shorten its life and decrease its overall capacity. If this happens, you’ll need to charge the battery more frequently and it may last only a few hours before needing a charge, for example.
Your battery will also perform better if you don’t let it charge to 100 percent, so take it off the charger at about 80 to 90 percent capacity. Leaving the phone connected to the charger when the phone is completely charged may lower battery life if you do it repeatedly.
Brightness, Vibration and Power-Saving Mode
Your phone devours battery power no matter what you do, but you can lessen the burden by adjusting the device’s settings. Most smartphones have an auto-brightness setting that automatically adjusts the display’s brightness based on the lighting of your environment. If you normally have the display set to full brightness, enable the auto option to save a chunk of battery life.
Vibration also uses extra battery power, so if you don’t need it, disable it. Your phone may allow you to disable vibration for certain items, such as notifications, while leaving it on for phone calls and messages.
Some phones have a power-saving mode that allows you to disable the data connection when the screen is off or to slow down processor usage. Power-saving mode may also turn off Bluetooth, vibration, GPS and syncing when you lock the screen. Available options differ by phone model. If your phone has this mode, enable it, and you might see a significant improvement in battery life.
Location Services, Running Apps and Notifications
If you’ve enabled location services for maps or the GPS on your phone, the device is constantly scanning to determine your position on the map. Some location-based third-party apps do this, too. Your phone runs out of power rapidly if you leave location services on all the time. To save battery life, disable these services and turn them on only when necessary.
Some apps run in the background until you explicitly shut them down. You may not even know they’re running at all. Most phones have a usage menu where you can see running apps, shut them down and even determine how much space they’re taking up on the phone. Check this menu regularly, and close apps you don’t use.
Many smartphones feature a notifications system that alerts you to everything from new text messages to social-network updates. If you turned on automatic syncing for apps, email and other online accounts, the constant stream of updates can drain your battery fast. Disable notifications for apps and other unwanted services to save power.
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
Many public places, including restaurants, airports and hotels, offer free Internet access if you have a Wi-Fi enabled phone. Wi-Fi comes in handy when you want to browse the Web on the go, but it’s also a huge drain on your battery. Turn Wi-Fi on only when you want to get online, and turn it off immediately after.
If you’ve connected a wireless headset to your phone via Bluetooth, you may have noticed how quickly the battery seems to drain. Bluetooth allows your phone to communicate with other devices, but the connection requires extra power. Don’t leave Bluetooth on all of the time, and remember to disable it when you’re done with it.
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