Do you know where your smartphone is? Unless you're using it to read PCWorld.com, your phone is probably plugged into an outlet somewhere to charge, because the battery stinks. You can find plenty of good reasons why your smartphone battery sucks, most of which stem from the failure of lithium ion batteries to keep pace with the exponentially increasing power demands of rapidly evolving smartphone technology. Thankfully, plenty of tips and tutorials are available to help you wring every last drop of juice from your smartphone battery, and such tricks can be distilled down to two critical steps: Configure your smartphone for maximum battery life, and then download a reliable and trustworthy battery-optimization app.
Optimize Your Phone for Maximum Battery Life
Configuring your smartphone for maximum battery life entails giving up a few luxuries such as GPS tracking and a stunningly bright screen; but after testing these tricks, we're willing to bet that you won't even notice the loss. What you will notice is the few extra hours of battery life you'll earn with simple tweaks such as dimming your smartphone screen, reducing the screen timeout to the shortest available time (preferably 15 seconds or less), and switching off the power-sucking Bluetooth and Wi-Fi radios when you aren't using them. Making those three changes should net you an extra hour or two before your phone dies. If that's not enough, however, check out our complete list of tricks that boost your smartphone's battery life.
Download Battery-Management Apps
Once your device is running lean and mean, you should download a few good battery-optimization apps to ensure it stays that way. The best app for your needs will vary depending on what sort of smartphone you carry.
Android users have access to a smorgasbord of apps that boost speed and improve battery life, but many of them directly affect your phone's system settings and require a rooted device to function properly. Unfortunately, few apps on the Apple App Store are capable of automatically managing your iPhone's system settings. If you're carrying an iPhone and you're concerned about reports of poor battery life, pick up a system monitor app such as iStat to keep an eye on how your phone draws juice, and use that knowledge to troubleshoot your battery-sucking iPhone 4S. If you own an older iPhone or an iPad, check out our quick fix for the Apple iOS 5 battery-drain issue instead.
If you use a Windows Phone 7 smartphone, update the firmware to the latest version of Mango and try the new Battery Saver feature. This great battery-management utility allows you to automatically disable power drains such as Live Tile and email updates when your battery starts to run low. The typical tips for conserving smartphone battery power are also appropriate for Mango users. No matter what tools you select, be cautious and avoid bogus battery-saver apps; we've seen a recent rash of Android malware masquerading as battery-upgrade utilities. Be sure to install a trusted mobile security app, and consult a few reviews before you download any questionable apps.