Nine Steps for Saving Your Smartphone’s Battery

By Jerry James Stone

Travel delays can mean having to occupy yourself for hours, and if tapping away on your smartphone is how you pass the time, your battery is bound to get zapped—fast. Rather than comb the terminal for a place to plug in, a few short steps can make your mobile last a lot longer. Herewith, the best practices for ensuring that your phone doesn’t run out of juice before you do.


#1: Disable Vibrate Mode

Putting your phone on vibrate is fine during a movie or meeting, but it drains the battery more than you may think. Consider this: For a ringtone to be audible, the speaker is the only thing that vibrates, but a lot more energy is required to make the whole device buzz.

#2: Turn Off GPS, Location Services, and Wi-Fi

Your mobile’s GPS unit is a tiny little radio that communicates with satellites in order to pinpoint your actual location. While this is great for finding nearby restaurants or checking in on Foursquare, it significantly decreases your battery if left running. The same holds true when you allow an app access to your device so it can determine where you are. And unless you’re downloading files or sending email, switching off Wi-Fi is also key in keeping your smartphone’s charge.

#3: Disable Bluetooth

You may love your Bluetooth headset, but it’s definitely not your battery’s BFF. Like GPS, having it switched on means it’s using radio waves. Besides, wearing it when you’re not speaking to someone just looks silly.

#4: Kill Apps Running in the Background

Apps are primarily what make smartphones interesting (I mean, who doesn’t enjoy tossing tempestuous wingless birds at innocent little pig heads?). But using all those apps suck the life out of your battery—especially if running them means data is being sent or received, or if they use the phone’s GPS.

#5: Dim the Screen

The bigger your smartphone’s screen, the more power it uses. By lowering the default brightness, you reduce the energy needed to keep it illuminated. Most phones have an auto-brightness feature, which adjusts the screen for ambient light.

#6: Keep It Cool

Batteries are affected by heat, and allowing them to overheat can cause severe damage. As such, it’s best to store your phone in your bag rather than toting it around in your pocket.

#7: Reduce the Auto Lock Time

While it may be a micro tip, keeping your phone’s screen off as much as possible can make a big difference. All the energy that goes into having it turned on adds up over time.

#8: Disable 3G Mode

With the exception of AT&T, not all phone companies—or phones—allow 3G to be disabled. But if you have the ability, turn off 3G and run your phone over the 2G (EDGE) network. A 2G connection is much slower, and uses a lot less power as a result.

#9: Switch to Airplane Mode

The next best thing to powering down your mobile phone is switching it to airplane mode. This mode kills the GPS unit, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and your connection with cell towers; anything that uses a signal. But don’t worry, items stored on the phone—like music, maps, and email—are still accessible.

Photo credit: courtesy brittanysoup / flickr