Extending battery life

Have you got a charger I can use?"

JPCT 150713 Alan Stainer. Photo by Derek Martin
JPCT 150713 Alan Stainer. Photo by Derek Martin

That is frequently asked when people visit my house. They understandably don’t want to lug a heavy charger around with them all day and like me they start looking anxiously at their phone when the battery starts running low.

That’s the real problem, the battery seems to run low very quickly. In fact I recall several occasions while out with my family, where I have been happily taking photos with my smartphone only to discover that it has run out halfway through the outing.

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Not ideal.

Now taking photos and the occasional bit of film should give you an indication as to what not to do if you want to extend the battery life of your phone. Using apps uses energy. Some are worse than others. Playing games and watching movies is notorious for draining the battery fast. So the rule of thumb is, if you want to save your battery for that all important phone call, stop using your apps unless you really have to.

Using your smartphone as a GPS device is a double whammy. The app uses a lot of energy AND it uses energy searching for the GPS signal. Similarly, if you are out and about (and who isn’t when you have a mobile phone) turn off blue tooth and WiFi. When they are active your phone will constantly be searching for things to connect with. That uses energy needlessly.

If you are in an area with poor reception, consider switching your phone to aeroplane mode, or turning off 3G/4G. That will stop it futilely searching for a network connection that isn’t there and using up energy for no reason at all. Just remember to take it off aeroplane mode and switch 3G/4G back on when you need to use your phone again.

Some or all of the things above may be available as a battery saving option on your phone. Usually a notification appears when the battery is running low, but you should be able to turn it on manually. Devices vary, so check the instructions for your device to find the right setting.

Finally, it used to be that you could walk around with a spare battery for those times when your phone ran out. A lot of smartphones don’t allow you to change the batter these days, but have no fear! There are portable USB battery packs that will get you out of a bind in a pinch.