As you probably already know, today’s smartphones are ridiculously cool and powerful. We point them in the sky to read the stars, and we point them to the ground to see our location on Google Maps. But there’s only one thing I miss about my old flip phone: it could last for days without needing to be recharged.
Yes, as far as technology has come, we still need to connect our phones to a power outlet at least once per day. Why do smartphone batteries drain so quickly? And what can you do to prevent that from happening?
Certain tasks reduce battery life more than others
You use your smartphone to do all sorts of cool things. But some of those cool things kill battery life more quickly than others. The Wi-Fi antenna, for example, is quite a battery hog, which is why switching off your Wi-Fi signal when you leave the home is definitely a good idea. Otherwise, the antenna will constantly search for a signal and connect to random networks.
However, downloading via 3G or 4G networks takes more time than downloading via Wi-Fi due to your distance from the transmitter (which requires more power to obtain a signal) and the limited connection bandwidth. So if you’re planning on downloading a big file, do it over Wi-Fi.
Realize that you’re using a miniature supercomputer
Ten years ago, most of our desktop PCs weren’t as powerful as today’s smartphones. We’re carrying an incredible amount of processing power in our pockets, and all of that power requires a lot of, well, power in order to run. If you’re using the latest and greatest technology – like octa core processors and HD screens – you need to recognize that this technology takes more battery life than, say, the single core processor on your old flip phone.
More bandwidth = more battery usage
Today’s 4G LTE networks are incredibly fast and powerful. You’re not going to max out the 4G LTE network anytime soon, but you will bump against the bandwidth limit on your smartphone if you download a lot of stuff. When you’re constantly bumping against the bandwidth limit, your phone is draining significantly more battery than it otherwise would. Download files separately.
Minimize your use of antennas
As mentioned above, antenna usage of any kind is a major source of battery drain. If you’re not using your GPS, disable it. If you’re not connected to a Wi-Fi network, disable that too. And if you’re going on a road trip and expect to be in and out of service areas, disabling your mobile networks can save a lot of battery life as well.
Keep your phone cool
This tip might only extend battery life by a few percentage points, but every little bit counts. Keep your phone cool whenever possible. If you’re sitting in one spot for a while, consider taking your phone out of your pocket and placing it on a table. Warm lithium ion batteries are less efficient than cool ones, and dropping the temperatures by a few degrees can have a noticeable impact on battery life.
Remove any widgets you don’t use
One of the major reasons why Android battery life tends to be weaker than battery life on iPhones is widgets. That’s right: one of the biggest advantages of Android phones is also a battery killer. Having widgets on your homescreen is very useful, but it can also unnecessarily drain a lot of battery life if you don’t actually use those widgets on a daily basis. Remove any widgets from your homescreen that you don’t actually use and you should be able to increase battery life.
Root your phone
Rooting your phone gives you access to exclusive battery-extending apps along with low-battery-using custom ROMs, both of which can extend battery life by hours. Root your phone to access these advantages and plenty more.
Monitor signal strength
Up above, we said that the distance from a service tower matters. That doesn’t mean it takes noticeably longer for the signal to reach your phone, but it does mean that your phone has to work harder to maintain that signal. If you’re in an area with 1 bar, turning your phone off when not needed can save quite a bit of battery life.
And remember: if you’re absolutely in need of the maximum amount of battery life, turn your phone on airplane mode. Obviously, airplane mode turns your phone into an expensive offline app device, but I’ve been able to make my Samsung Galaxy S3 last 3 whole days on airplane mode, and that was while playing hours of music, taking hundreds of pictures/videos, and using the front camera flash light as a flashlight for hours on end (yup, I was on a camping trip).