It’s no secret that cell phone batteries typically suck, sometimes not even lasting us until we get home in the evening. What’s the secret to good battery life? The general rule of thumb is that if your phone is doing anything, your battery power is being drained. And if you’re doing something fun on your phone, you can bet your battery meter will be running low shortly. This means photos, games, and web surfing will all impair your battery’s performance significantly more than regular use. So what are some steps you can take to maximize your battery life without sacrificing the fun? Read on for 10 things you can do to increase your phone’s battery life:
- Turn off all off all unnecessary sounds (keytones, alerts). One of my biggest pet peeves is how most phones these days come with keytones on. Do people really like hearing their phone beep, strum a musical note, or chime every time they press a button? You might like it, but ask your neighbor. Plus, turning these off will save you a good amount of battery juice. Think of all of the processing it must take to load up those midis (or whatever they are) when you touch a key – plus, they’re annoying.
- Use either a ringer or vibrate, but not both. I understand if you’re in a concert or loud party you want to increase your chance of actually realizing your phone is ringing, but other than that, pick one or the other. There’s no need to have your ringer all the way to the point where it has both the sound and vibrate alerts active, so I would recommend against it. I personally have my phone on vibrate at all times, regardless of where I am. If you’re worried about not hearing your phone when it’s on vibrate, put it on a table and I promise you’ll hear it. Or better yet, put it in a dish full of coins!
- Decrease your screen’s brightness to 50%. Go to the settings menu of your phone and change the LCD brightness. At first, the screen will look dark, but once your eyes have adjusted to it, you’ll forget about it. The LCD screen on your phone is one of the biggest (if not THE biggest) power hogs on your phone. So turn it down, and you’re on your way to a lengthier battery life.
- Turn your backlight setting down. Most phones these days will allow you to adjust the amount of time your backlight stays on once you’ve stopped touching buttons. The default length on most phones is probably around 15-30 seconds, but there are settings that are much lower. I would suggest turning this down to 3-5 seconds to increase your battery life. If it starts annoying you, then just crank it back up. Note: Mine backlight is set to go off after 5 seconds and it doesn’t bother me at all.
- Turn off Bluetooth when you’re not using it. This can be an easy one to forget about if you’re often switching between using a Bluetooth headset, and the phone’s ear piece. Turning the Bluetooth off when you’re not using it will save your phone from having to go out and check if the headset is there every few seconds. Any type of transmission will weigh-down your battery life, so if you use infrared, turn that off when you’re not using it as well.
- Close applications when you’re not using them. This one only affects those of us that have smartphones. Why do you need to keep that game on pause when you’re not using it? Or pocket Excel open? Just save and close them and you’ll minimize the amount of battery waste.
- Keep your phone in cool climates. I know most of the time you won’t have a choice where to keep your phone – since it goes with you at all times. But when you do have a choice – such as when you’re at home – don’t put your phone on the hot stove, or on your super hot MacBook Pro or anything like that. Also, don’t keep your phone in a hot car. If you have extra batteries for your phone, go ahead and store those in the refrigerator – but make sure not to freeze them. BatteryUniversity recomments storing them at a 40% charge for best results.
- When you’re phone is done charging, unplug it! There’s a common myth that you can over-charge your battery if you leave it plugged in. According to BatteryUniversity, “Once the battery is fully charged, no further charge is applied.” So if no further charge is applied, then why do you need to unplug your phone? You want to protect your battery from heat, that’s why. When the phone is running off of AC for a long time, extended heat may hurt the battery.
- Don’t let your battery fully discharge. If you let your battery die frequently, you’re putting extra strain on the battery. Avoid this by plugging in your phone before it dies all the way.
- Don’t do anything fun on your phone. I mentioned this above, but I’m serious here. If you have fun on your phone, your battery life will dramatically decrease. Accessing the web, playing games, navigating via GPS and capturing photos or video are not things to do while you’re in the middle of nowhere without a charger.
Do you have any battery-saving tips not mentioned above? Tell us about them in the comment section below…
Originally published on Gadgetell at 7:45PM on February 2, 2008.