No matter the amount of amazing features inside your smartphone, it’s all worth nothing if you’re constantly running out of battery power. We’ve put together a few simple tips and tricks to help you get the best out of your phone’s battery, and included some charging solutions for even the most power-hungry users.
This is the latest instalment in Gizmodo Australia's big Smartphone Buying Guide which we'll be rolling-out on Mondays and Wednesdays throughout October.
Turn Down Your Screen Brightness
If you set your smartphone’s screen to max brightness, it’ll chew through battery pretty quickly. Choose a moderate or low setting, or ideally opt for the ‘auto’ mode (if available) that boosts and lowers the backlight depending on ambient light - this will stretch your battery life significantly.
Disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
If you’re not actively using them, switching off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth can give you a huge boost in battery life. If you leave them running, they’ll both keep sniffing out new (and unwanted) connections, putting a constant drain on your phone that’s easy to avoid.
Use Your Phone’s Built-in Power Saving Features
Most new phones have some built-in power saving options. The HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S4, for example, let you cut down on CPU usage, turn off keyboard vibration and dim the screen, while the One can also turn off background data usage while the phone is locked.
iOS 7 doesn’t have any explicit power saving mode or feature - it does almost everything in the background, although if you’re looking for the best possible battery life you can disable the new Background Refresh feature, which lets every app update when you’re not looking.
Buy A Spare Battery
If you’re fortunate enough to have a phone with a removable back, you’ll almost certainly be able to remove the battery and swap it out for a spare. Samsung’s Galaxy S4 is a great example; the company even sells an extra battery kit with a carry case that you can plug directly in to charge.
Buy A Spare Charger (or bring yours from home)
Lugging around an extra wall wart and USB cable in your bag might be a pain, but especially if you work in an office, it’s a minor inconvenience that means you’ll only be running on battery power when you’re away from your desk.
Invest In An External Battery Pack
An external battery pack is a god-send for frequent travellers. Most charge over a standard microUSB cable and wall charger, and they usually have a battery capacity two or three times larger than your smartphone’s - letting you top up your phone’s battery quickly, or charge it entirely from empty if you’re in a tough spot.
Install A Battery-Saving App
There are a host of apps out there that promise to extend your battery life, and some are true to their word. If you’ve got a phone with a Qualcomm SnapDragon processor (and that’s most recent Android phones), Qualcomm’s BatteryGuru analyses your usage and implements some rules to eke the best battery life out of the least charging time.
For iPhones and iOS, the situation is a little murkier, with less under-the-hood adjustment available to apps. Still, apps like Philips’ BatterySense give some useful tips on maxing out your phone’s life.
JuiceDefender is worth trying for Android. It runs in the background to help your phone stay battery-efficient. For example, you can set it to disable Wi-Fi after one minute if it hasn’t yet connected to a nearby network. It’s extremely easy to set up and use, and you can grab it from the Market for free. However, some of the features (like the Wi-Fi ones) are only available in the $4.99 JuiceDefender Ultimate upgrade.
Buy A Battery Case
If you have a relatively popular smartphone like an iPhone, the HTC One or the Galaxy S4, you have the option of buying a protective case for your phone that also functions as an external battery pack. These packs can double your battery life without being too bulky, while also protecting against accidental drops.
Set A Reminder
Having a bunch of accessories and chargers is no good if you don’t actually use them. If you’re the forgetful type, set a timed reminder or alarm on your phone that will prompt you to plug it in before the battery gets critically low, leaving you stuck without a way to quickly get some extra charge.
Take Care Of Your Phone's Battery
This is a relatively simple piece of advice, but you won’t see results from it straight away. Just take care of your phone’s battery - don’t let it get too hot, charge it before it hits zero, but don’t leave it on the charger constantly either. Try your best to keep your phone charged between 5 and 95 per cent whenever possible, and it will last longer - saving you the hassle and expense of getting the battery changed or of buying a new phone entirely.
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