Tips for extending Smartphone battery life

Posted By : Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on March 18, 2010 3:49 PM

Question

I love my iPhone but hate how quickly the battery goes dead! Any tips on getting more time on a charge?

- Marcus

Answer

This question was answered on March 18, 2010. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

Smartphones in general tend to be prone to shorter battery life because of all of the capabilities built into the phones.

The battery in the iPhone is unfortunately not user-replaceable either, so carrying around a second battery isn’t an option (but I have another suggestion later).

The good news is that there are a number of adjustments you can make that will dramatically extend the life of your iPhone battery.

Start with the Brightness setting (Settings/Brightness) by turning it down to the lowest acceptable level and make sure the Auto-Brightness is turned on.

E-mail can be another huge power-suck on the iPhone especially if you have it checking multiple accounts and you get a lot of mail. By default, both the Push and the Fetch options are turned on which can be a big power drain.

Push essentially pushes e-mail to your phone as it arrives to your primary e-mail system. Unless you have to get messages that quickly, turn off the Push option for your e-mail account(s) (Settings/Mail, Contacts, Calendars/Fetch New Data) to conserve lots of power.

While you are in the Fetch settings, either set the interval to Hourly or Manually to conserve the most power. Fetch determines how often your phone goes out to your mail system to check for new mail and is also used for the ‘Find My iPhone’ feature in MobileMe, so setting it to Manually isn’t for everyone.

If you have a special e-mail configuration such as an imap account, you may have an additional place to choose Push or Fetch in the Advanced section of the Fetch New Data screen.

Push is also used for third-party applications (such as Facebook & Twitter) for notifications, so minimizing or turning off all notifications will also help conserve power (Settings/Notifications).

While we are on the subject of third-party applications, changing your notification settings in Facebook, Twitter, etc. (from your computer) so that you don’t get a text message every time an update is posted to your accounts.

Location services for things like maps and restaurant finders are awesome, but they also drain power every time you open any ‘location service’ enabled application. You can turn off Location Services for general usage and only turn it on when you actually need it (Settings/General/Location Services).

Turning off the Bluetooth feature on any smartphone has two potential benefits: it saves power and its more secure (Bluetooth can allow unauthorized connections to your phone). Unless you are one of those cyborg looking folks that likes to torture whomever is on the other end with lower sound quality, ditch the Bluetooth.

Turning off Wi-Fi until you actually want to use it is another good power saver (Settings/Wi-Fi). You may have noticed that every time your phone gets near any new Wi-Fi hotspots, it lets you know (both a power drain and a general pain!)

Set your Auto-Lock interval (Settings/General/Auto-Lock) to the shortest time that works for you (it’s like the Sleep option on computers). Also, get into the habit of locking your iPhone as soon as you are done using it, instead of allowing it to go blank on its own by pressing the thin metal Sleep/Wake button on the top of the phone.

If you are going into a meeting or movie theater or know that you are in a low or no coverage area, turn on the Airplane mode to save a bundle of power ((General/Airplane Mode).

If you’re getting low on power and want to squeeze a few extra phone calls or text messages in, turn off the 3G option (Settings/General/Network) and don’t check e-mail or try to surf the web.

Apple also recommends that you completely power-cycle your phone at least once a month. That means charging it all the way up and discharging it until it dies, as proper maintenance of lithium-based batteries.

If you travel frequently, I suggest getting a sleek attachable battery charger like the Juice Pack from Mophie ( http://www.mophie.com ). Mine has saved me (and sometimes the passenger sitting next to me!) many times on road trips.

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Posted by Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on March 18, 2010

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