12 tips to increase your smartphone's battery life

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

When I got my first smartphone, I literally felt shocked at how frequently I had to plug it to the charger, shocked by what I had come to believe was the result of an abnormally poor battery standby capacity. I could not understand why was it that... if my old phone of the same brand could easily last a whole week without having to be recharged, why would it be that this one, a newer one, ten times more sophisticated in every aspect, had to be plugged to the wall at least once a day or more - wrong it felt, and it felt like I had hit a defect - and I could already see myself screaming at some maintenance staff on that I had just bought that phone and that there was something wrong with its battery that needed to be replaced and so on.... STOP.

10 tips to increase your smartphone's battery life
A phone's charger and its battery

Nothing was wrong, as much as I was starting to find out while googling for the subject. Not only my phone's battery was perfectly okay but I even felt I was lucky enough that I ended up picking well... let's say not the worse one, in terms of battery matters at least.

Truth is, if your old phone easily lasted a week without a recharge, chances are your old phone just did not go on the internet either, did not have a whole operating system embedded in it, did not have heaps of programs trying every 5 to 10 minutes to sync with the internet, without you even being aware of it. Otherwise, you probably would not be reading this right now. The absolute truth is, smartphone are smart, they can so almost anything, and they require only the more energy.

Only, new general consumer phone dimensions haven't changed that much in size or volume, they did get bigger alright, but not as much as their inside functionality did, if you allow me this comparison. So now we have a general manufacturing design problem in our hands, society-wide, world-wide even.

Then what are the options here?

Some argue you could buy an extra external battery. Well, if doing so certainly postpones the time you will have to report to the next wall socket, such a move, to my own opinion, does not really solve the issue. To some extent, buying an external battery for your smartphone would be like booking a room in a motel to not have to clean your house. Or from another angle, it would be like buying stomach pills to be able to keep on eating junk food every day.

I justify :

Instead of wasting extra cash in an external battery, better or wiser would be to learn how to effectively manage your phone's consumption in the first place. Then once you have cut your smartphone's energy needs to the point you need to recharge twice less frequently and if this is still isn't enough for your needs, then you might consider buying that extra battery, that is if you cannot rearrange your schedule or re-question your own smart device needs...

Bellow is a list of steps you can take to safely and substantially increase the stanby capacity of your smartphone's battery, hence its longevity and ultimately of your overall smartphone's longevity:

1 - Uninstall any battery-saving/monitoring programs you may have already installed. While those are interesting programs designed with mostly nice visual interfaces, they do consume energy, and even though they make you feel like you're doing the right choice using them as a beginner, the more you get to know and understand your phone the more you will grow convinced they're a drawback to your phone's longevity and well-being.

2- Remove all the programs/widgets you aren't really using.

3 - Get your hands in the grease right away and look for each of your preferred programs settings, and uncheck any option that will have each of these programs chronically connect/sync to the internet for one reason to another - UNLESS you really need to have that option enabled.  But to quote only a few of the famous ones, Google usually have lots of sync options turned on by default in each of its mobile apps. You will need to spend a little time on this one but you will definitely not regret it. Almost every program has a setting menu available. Worth noting also, apps like Skype or Facebook do have a tendency to connect online every X minutes without you being aware of it, so leaving the battery aspect aside, you might want to check your settings for those apps (if installed), and make sure you do not appear online while you're not even close to your phone physically.

4 - Repeat this process to find any option that adds overhead to your system, thus consuming more energy, eg: notification options. Again, that's unless you truly need that/those options enabled. But then, what's the use of having a program notifying you of the same event several times in a row within the next 5 minutes, all between your smartphone, laptop, tablet, you name it. Some programs aren't too good at syncing, so that disabling notifications may sometimes serve two purposes even : reducing the overhead in your phone, thus relying less on your battery, and making your life easier/clearer while not notifying you several times of the same event.

5 - Use Wifi only when you really have to. Wifi is energy-demanding, it is, especially if your coverage isn't that great. The more a phone is struggling to connect to a network, let alone the network discovery process beforehand, the more energy it will need for that struggle. Get into the habit of disconnection Wifi each time you are done with it. Same for mobile data plan, it is never a bad idea to turn it off once you are done with it. - Same for Bluetooth.

6 - Turn off GPS, turn it on only when you truly need it. Let's face it, how many times a day do you need GPS up and running? Okay, this is fun at first, especially while playing with the Google maps app, and then you realize you don't really need it afterall. In my case, I happened to have needed it only once, while lost in some place, somewhere. So, do your phone/battery a big favor, and spent half a second turning GPS on only that day when you truly need it, otherwise, it will just endlessly keep on sucking the life out of your smartphone and its battery, which will potentially live less longer...

7 - When you go to bed, you don't necessarily have to turn off your smartphone, but you can surely benefit a lot from disconnecting it from the internet. You don't need your phone when you sleep right? So just turn off any data plan you're on or turn off Wifi it it's on. You're not expected to rotate-screen while sleeping either, so you can safely turn that off too.

8 - Check your own personal consumption habits. As a beginner user, I felt there was much about my phone I could not do without, and this right from jumping out of bed every morning. Well, why checking your emails on your phone first thing in the morning while you're going to turn your comp on in the next five minutes anyway? Of course different people have different needs, but there's probably much benefit to gain from asking yourself questions like, what do I really need my phone for and when?  Equally, there's no harm in listening to mp3's right from your phone for an hour before falling asleep, but the obvious fact here is some activity require way more energy than others, and therefore have you join the wall-socket club again in no time, before you would want to. You have to find a balance between what your computer and smartphone can or cannot do. Try and use your smartphone for only the things your computer cannot already do.

9 - Watch our for poorly coded software. Some mobile programs, even though famous, may have memory leaks in them, or be coded in such a way that they do not run well on your phone, using way more CPU(processor) resource than expected. While there are free programs out there to help spot such glutton programs, I would recommend using them for a few days at max, just to get a feel of what program are really violating your phone's well being. Once you get a good picture of what programs cannot be trusted on your phone, remove them permanently, and do remove the program that has helped identifying them too, as they too need energy and you should not be needing them anymore.

10 - Restrict your security software use, use it smartly. While those are great at what they do, they are also known for needing a lot of resource. Do not get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with running a good anti-virus program on your smartphone, especially knowing how vulnerable has the mobile platform become to hacking threats lately, and those threats are growing in number every single day. But, even though this type of software is (or should be) needed, it also turns out to be very demanding, and it is probably a great idea to stop your security software from running when you do not need it running: like when receiving a sms for example. Again here, different people happen to have different needs so it would be a hazardous task just to try and give you a piece of advice that would work for every one alike. But simply put, learn to spot the situations where you really need to have your security software running, and when you do not, stop its process.

11 - The obvious - pay attention to your screen brightness settings. While you would certainly need to have all the brightness available when you're out on the outside on a bright summer day, you do not need that much brightness when sitting at home, especially if you aren't touching your phone for most of the day. But the certainty here being that screen brightness affects your energy consumption... a lot.

12 - Do not systematically update all your apps. Ever since I have had a smartphone of my own, I have noticed how frequently some programs were posting updates, hence full updates. In the case of Google Chrome, that's over 30 Megabytes every few days, same for Mozilla Firefox, etc, etc, and that's only the more work for your phone. While there might be, at times, specific updates you feel you should absolutely download and install, updates being available almost daily, this whole process may become more resource-demanding than anything else in the long run. So, do not assume that just because there's an update that's available that you should automatically download and install it.

Following those simple yet very beneficial steps will definitely help you spend more quality time with your smartphone without having to recharge its battery as often. And since, in the first place, the amount of overhead in your system will decrease considerably, your device's components will benefit from a longer life expectancy too. This way, you will not have to buy a new phone so often and you can keep your savings for something else you might need more.

Stay tuned for me on RolandC.net!.


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