5 ways to extend your smartphone's battery life

Avoid the dreaded 'battery low' message with these simple tips

Hungry displays

Anyone remember the five day battery life of Nokia’s 5110? Or that of Ericsson’s T25? Battery technology was relatively primitive back then. The main reason why smartphones lack the longevity of yesterday’s phones is owed to their displays.

Take a popular smartphone like the Samsung Galaxy S5, for instance. Its Super-AMOLED screen has a 1080p resolution like most top-tier televisions. More modern smartphones go one further with 1440p displays, such as LG’s G3, Samsung’s Galaxy S6 and the Motorola Nexus 6.

The display settings of a Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge
The display settings of a Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

Dimming the display is one way to prolong battery life. Most smartphones use an ambient light sensor and automatically adjust the brightness of the screen to suit a room’s environment. Enabling this setting is a good way to balance screen performance with economy.

Some smartphones have an auto mode that isn’t entirely accurate. Setting the brightness level to half-way, or adjusting it manually, is one way around this dilemma.

Keeping the screen active only when needed also serves to lengthen battery life. Be sure to put the screen to sleep as soon as possible for the best results.

The screen timeout settings in a HTC One (M8s)
The screen timeout settings in a HTC One (M8s)

Be selective

A multitude of applications are running in the background of your smartphone, most of which are sending and receiving information over the Internet in order to relay notifications in real time.

This sucks juice. Limiting how often a smartphone has to check for notifications not only improves battery life, but it also means you will be interrupted less.

Sync only the most essential accounts automatically. This pertains to emails, social networks and games. The fact remains all notifications will be there waiting for you.

Each email application or social networking app will have its own sync settings. Tweak them to your liking; the less frequent the sync, the better it is for your battery life.

Don't share everything

GPS identifies where you are anywhere on the face of the Earth. For it to work, a connection has to be made between the GPS receiver in your smartphone and at least three satellites.

It’s no wonder then that GPS consumes a lot of power. Keeping this feature always on will drain your smartphone’s battery quickly.

Turn off all location services in general when they’re not needed. Many applications will request access to your location. Sometimes it’s part of an application’s core functionality; most times, it is not.

All of the location, background app and notification settings for applications can be found in one place in Apple's iOS.
All of the location, background app and notification settings for applications can be found in one place in Apple's iOS.

Turning off unused connectivity technologies will further extend a smartphone’s battery life. This includes Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi Hotspots.

Goodbye, Haptic

Make do without the vibration functionality of your smartphone. Android smartphones often vibrate during screen selections, when using the keyboard, when the alarm goes off and during notifications. Go through the various settings and be sure to turn off those that are superfluous.

Spring cleaning

Basic maintenance goes a long way and sometimes improving smartphone performance is as simple as a restart. Doing so frees up memory and ensures they run efficiently.

More can be done day-to-day to keep them running economically. Be sure to close unused applications running in the background, all of which can be done from the task manager.

Some Android smartphones have third-party applications that cannot be uninstalled. These applications can be disabled from the application manager in the settings menu.

Force stop only apps you are familiar with. Doing so means the application will not run again unless instructed.
Force stop only apps you are familiar with. Doing so means the application will not run again unless instructed.

And don’t forget...

Battery saving modes put these tips into practice at the switch of a single toggle. Some offer a granular approach to battery saving by allowing you to choose which features are limited to conserve power. These little tricks will often extend the battery life of a smartphone by hours.

Smartphones like the HTC One (M8s) can the settings of its battery saving mode fine tuned to individual preferences.
Smartphones like the HTC One (M8s) can the settings of its battery saving mode fine tuned to individual preferences.

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