Everybody needs a phone, at least that is what my five-year-old daughter says. But I would say, “Everybody needs a phone that works.” Just as the economy is powered by our ability to exchange goods and services, our social life is powered by our ability to make connections. So we need to Get Connected! And stay connected for as long as we we can.
Fact is, everyone with a phone has the same problem you and I have. Sometimes battery dies when we need our phone. It is also a fact that for some people, their phone dies more often than others. We will now look at ways to help ensure that your phone dies on you less frequently than it currently does.
Getting more out of your battery
You wake up one day and it finally hits you - your phone does not last as long as it used to. Though this could be normal due to the battery's age, there are other instances when this is due to other reasons.
Battery time gradually decreases with age, however if you see a significant drop of the battery time within a short period, there usually is a direct cause linked to changes in internal or external factors. Normally, the change in the battery capacity will not be dramatic, but a slow, imperceptible change due to the cumulative effect of tiny, tiny changes..
This discussion generally applies to both Android and iPhone but the focus will be more on Android. I will provide you with a link at the end of this discussion that will help you find phone-specific information. For now, let's look at some of the easy things you can do to extend your battery life during the course of your day.
The Common Sense Approach
Everyone has some common sense (I think), and when we do not fail to use it, we can rely on it to help solve some of our small pesky problems. At times, basic common sense may be all we need to solve some of our battery problems so let’s go through the list below.
- If there is a sudden drop in the battery life, then may be something has changed with your phone, or how you use your phone. It may be how you charge it, where you keep it, or maybe a new app that you just installed.
- If there is an app on your phone and you don’t need it anymore, remove it. Some apps run on the background even if you are not using it.
- Use the Battery Saver function on your phone. It will help make your battery last longer.
- Reduce the amount of time you use to watch videos or listen to music, or play game on your phone. It is not a good feeling to realize in an emergency situation that the reason why you are not connected is because you wasted your battery on YouTube videos or playing Subway Surfers. Your phone can keep you safe if you take good care of it.
- Disable any background auto-syncing and auto-downloads
- It is best to use Google native apps (if available) instead of a third-party one. Google apps are usually more efficient (i.e., uses less of your battery and other resources.)
- If you are done with using an app, close it. Don't let it linger at the background.
- Don’t cook your phone. Leaving your phone in the sun or exposing it to extreme temperatures will kill your battery, and do some lasting damages to your phone as well.
- Turn off the phone when you can’t find service. It will help save your battery for when you need it.
- Don't set the screen brightness too high.
If you follow the above approach, it may be all you need. However if you feel you need more, then read on.
The larger your screen size, the more power it consumes. The longer the screen stays on, the more power it takes from your battery. You may not be able to change the screen size but you can set the sleep setting to as low as you can tolerate. A smaller timer will save more power, however it also becomes inconvenient when you have to unlock you screen again every time you blink. You will need to find a balance that works for you so as not to get you frustrated..
Always try to use a darker theme and wallpaper for your phone. The screen consumes more power with brighter themes. Also, avoid making the screen too bright, and reduce display resolution if your phone has that function.
When we walk around with Mobile Network, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC all enabled on our phone, we are speeding up how quickly the battery will die.. No matter how small, all wireless interfaces need power which eventually add up.
To reduce power consumption,
- Turn them off any interface you do not need at the moment.
- Use Wi-Fi when available instead of Mobile Network. Mobile network consumes more power when sending and receiving data.
- Stop continuous search when you are in a no-service area. Searching for a network requires a lot of power, and doing so for extended periods kills the battery. Put the phone in an Airplane mode or shut it down.
Disable apps that are not needed but are running in the background. Some phones come preloaded with malware/adware that are constantly active even though you may not see them. Locate those apps and shut them down, or completely uninstall them if you can.
Free versions of commercial apps are loaded with ads that consume your battery, hogs your memory, and steal your data. If possible, pay for the app to remove the ads. It will save you money in the long run if it is an app that you use very often.
Battery Saver/Low Power mode
Smartphones have ways of slowing down power consumption in order to extend the battery time. It may be called Battery Saver or Low Power mode depending on your phone. Use it while understanding that there are some trade-offs. When you turn on that feature, here are some of the things that will happen to the phone. The phone,
- Will wait until you select an app before the contents are refreshed (updated).
- May activate Location services only when the screen is turned on.
- Stops some apps from running in the background,
- May stop listening to voice command. You may be required to tap the microphone icon () to use voice commands.
- Will delay notification for some apps.
For what you get in return, I think this is a small price to pay.
Use the battery management app that allows you to see which apps are running and how much of your battery they are consuming. For many Android phones, this app may be found by going to "Settings", and then "Battery". When an application is selected, it shows an option to shut it down, and if it is a third-party (non-Google) app, it should give you an option to uninstall it as well. Uninstall it if it is something you no longer need on your device.
If your phone does not come with a Battery Saver, you may be able to download one but remember, the free versions usually come with a cost, as mentioned before.
Extreme temperatures will hurt your phones battery and its ability to store charge. Following these steps could help save both your battery, and your phone as a whole.
- Never leave your phone in direct sunlight
- Never leave it in your car on hot days. For example, when the outside temperature is about 29 degree Celsius, the inside of a car parked in the sun can reach as high as 54 degrees (or even higher, depending on sky conditions). This can overheat and damage the phone or the battery or both.
- Use the original charger that came with your phone to avoid over-heating and damage to the battery/phone.
- Monitor your phone when charging. Don’t shut it in a drawer or a container since air circulation is needed while charging to avoid overheating. You may need to remove the phone from its case if it becomes very hot when being charged.
In a future installment, we will deal with how to ensure your battery keeps working for as long as possible before being replaced.
For further reading on how to conserve your battery (and much more), follow the links below.
 In an emergency situation, you may not necessarily need to wait for service to make a call. Make the call anyway. It will go through if it finds any network, irrespective of who owns that network.
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