8 TIPS AND 7 MYTHS ABOUT EXTENDING SMARTPHONE BATTERY LIFE
Here are eight tips and seven myths we busted for preserving battery life on smartphones. Check out our full post “What You Should (and Shouldn’t) Do to Extend Your Phone’s Battery Life” here: http://wrctr.co/phone-battery-life
- •MYTH: Closing unused apps will save battery.The theory is that apps running in the background are using your phone’s components, so quitting them will save energy. While that may be true on a computer, smartphones are designed differently: Once an app is no longer in the foreground — meaning you are not actively using it — most or all of its processes are frozen.
- •TIP: Use auto-brightness for the screen.A smartphone’s screen consumes more energy than any other component, so the easiest way to cut down battery drain is to reduce your screen brightness.
- •MYTH: Turning off Wi-Fi will always help.A common suggestion for extending battery life is to disable Wi-Fi. However, if you’re in range of a strong Wi-Fi signal, your phone uses less energy to connect to the Internet with a Wi-Fi connection than a cellular one.
- •TIP: Block power-sucking ads.When browsing the web, your smartphone also burns through power when it downloads mobile ads on websites. Installing an ad blocker will greatly extend battery life.
- •MYTH: Disable all location services.Don’t disable all of your phone’s location-based features just to extend your battery life. You won’t see a big jump in use time, but you may end up disabling — and subsequently missing — useful features. Instead, check to see if any of apps consuming the most battery life also track your location.
- •TIP: Check the battery usage lists.On the iPhone’s battery usage screen, tap the clock button to reveal information about how much of your battery life each app is consuming when you’re actively using the app (“screen”) compared with when you’re not (“backgd”). If you find apps using up lots of energy in the background, disable their background activities.
- •TIP: Disable unnecessary location tracking.If a location-based app is using a lot of power, especially in the background, there’s a good chance the app is using GPS, Wi-Fi and the phone’s sensors frequently. You can decide whether to disable location features for it (either via your phone’s Location Services settings, or by changing settings in the app itself).
- •MYTH: Always choose Wi-Fi over cellular.In testing in a location where both Wi-Fi and cellular LTE signals were strong, an hour of browsing over Wi-Fi used roughly the same amount of battery power as an hour using LTE on an iPhone. On a Motorola Android phone, LTE used only 2 to 3 percent more power than Wi-Fi.
- •TIP: Tweak your email settings.Your smartphone can update your email automatically using a technology called push, which brings new messages to your phone the instant they are transmitted. Push can be a power hog because it requires your phone to constantly listen for new messages, so if you get a lot of email, there’s a good chance your phone is using lots of energy. To save energy, most phones can be configured to instead check for (or “fetch”) emails on a schedule or only when you manually tell your email app to refresh.
- •MYTH: Don’t let Siri and Google listen for your commands.Using Siri or O.K. Google uses some energy, so if your phone’s battery is getting low, you should probably stop asking the phone question after question during your commute. But just having the feature enabled isn’t worth worrying about — and it can be quite convenient.
- •TIP: Play downloaded music instead of streaming.The next tip may come as unwelcome news. Nowadays, online streaming is the most popular way to listen to music, with services like Spotify, Pandora and Apple Music — but this method guzzles lots of battery power. Fortunately, streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music still let you listen to songs the old-school way: by storing the music right on your device.
- •MYTH: Forgo third-party chargers.A common warning around the Internet is that you should use only the charger that came with your phone, otherwise you could damage your phone’s battery. There’s some truth here: A poorly made charger can not only damage your phone, but could also hurt you by exposing you to dangerous currents. So if you’re replacing your phone’s AC adapter, or buying an extra, stick with a reputable vendor.
- •TIP: Turn off wireless when reception is poor.You may have noticed that when you’re in a place without good Wi-Fi or cellular coverage, your phone’s battery seems to drain much more quickly. That’s because the phone uses energy searching for a good signal and, if the signal is very weak, trying to get a better connection. To conserve battery life, disable the phone’s wireless circuitry. Airplane Mode, an option that will turn off all wireless features, is a quick and easy solution in areas with poor reception.
- •MYTH: Your phone needs constant calibration.For many years, devices that used rechargeable batteries required “conditioning” or “calibrating,” a procedure that prevented the battery from forgetting how much capacity it actually had. Today’s smartphone batteries no longer suffer from this issue. By periodically (once every couple of months) fully charging the phone and then using it until it dies, your phone’s software will determine the battery’s current capacity and thus let the phone better estimate how long it will last on a charge.
- •TIP: Shut off unnecessary push notifications.Both Apple and Google recommend disabling push notifications, which are essentially app alerts, to conserve battery life. Notifications require regular communication with notification servers, and each notification causes your phone to wake up for a few seconds, including turning on the screen, to show you a message and give you a chance to act on it.