Modern smartphone users want larger, brighter and crisper displays, and more powerful processors that power fluid user interfaces and a long list of features. In addition, we want our phones to stay connected to our email servers and social networks round the clock, and via 3G broadband too.
While the wishes of users in terms of hardware and features have been granted, unfortunately battery technology has not kept up with the pace of development of displays, processors and other features. As such, the internet is littered with complaints of “crappy” battery life by owners of such devices as the 3GS, HD2, Nexus One, Satio, and the like.
But what were we expecting? All the above-listed devices and others in their camp – including my own N900 – have a minimum of 600 MHz processors and vibrant 3.2-inch displays. Add always-on 3G or Wi-Fi connections, and you have a recipe for relatively shorter power cycles. Modern smartphone users simply cannot eat their cake and have it. At least not until some revolutionary battery technology shows up.
In the meantime, let me say here that battery life on those devices are really not as “crappy” as most of the complainants want you to believe. Most of them are actually capable of lasting much longer, even under moderate to heavy use.
For example, I read a smartphone user’s complaint about how he cannot get 6-8 hours out of one of today’s cutting-edge mobiles. Yet, with a little knowledge and sensibility, he would easily get 20-30 hours out of it.
Many times, people who complain of terrible battery life on their devices are doing so from a point of ignorance. With a few tips, smartphone users can easily get an extra 10-12 hours per charge from their devices. Amazing, right? Now that I have your attention, here are a few tips for getting better battery times out of your shiny new smart toys.
How you charge your battery is important
Yup, the first time you charge your phone, keep it connected to the mains for between 6 and 10 hours at a stretch. Ignore that “Battery full” notification that you get after 2 or 3 hours. The battery is NOT full, so keep it connected. Trust me. If you don’t do give your battery this initial extended charge, it will take longer for it to reach it’s full potential – or it never will. Once it gets used to not being fully charged that way, the rest is history…
The above tip about charging your smartphone battery has been overtaken by more recent developments in cell phone batteries. The correct way to charge your phone now is to not let it get to 100% every time. In fact, as much as possible, disconnect it from the power source before it hits the 100% mark.
Also, do not empty out your smartphone battery. Charge your phone in top-ups at every chance you get. If your battery is at 30% and there is a charger nearby, plug it in to top it up, and disconnect before the 100% mark. Any mark is good, actually. The old rules are gone.
If you don’t need an application running in the background, shut it down
It is foolishness to do things just because you can. Simply because your super smartphone or mobile computer can run 60 apps simultaneously does not mean you should. The more apps you leave running in the background, the more your battery life will suffer.
My car can do 180 km/hour comfortably, but I have never ventured that far, because I understand the consequences. It is called wisdom. If, however, armed robbers are after me one day and I have the highway, you bet…. Until then, I’m hovering at 100 km/hr max.
Reduce your data sync schedule
Take a second look at applications that connect automatically to the internet and determine if you really require them to connect that often.
Do you really require your RSS reader to refresh every 30 minutes? Unless those feeds are work-related, you need to get a life. Again, with all the noise about PUSH email, do you really need your email to arrive at your device in real time? Again, unless work-related, modify the sync schedule. Many times, a 1-hour schedule is okay. For a lot of people, even a once-a-day schedule is fine.
How about those social networking applications – Facebook, Twitter, et al.? Do you really need to know what some guy halfway across the world just had for dinner? Right now?
When you do not need broadband speeds, stick to 2G and turn off Wi-Fi
You know that you don’t need 3G speeds all the time. Some of you have internet access at the office. What do you require always-on 3G for? Turn it off when you don’t need it, or get an application to automate the network switching. Wifi is also one of the greatest power hogs, so keep an eye on it like a hawk. Turn it off when its not needed.
When not needed, turn off GPS
Simple: if you are not using it, do turn it off.
Reducing the backlight
The display of modern (especially touchscreen) smartphones are huge power consumers. As such, having the brightness set to the highest option means that your battery drains much faster. If you do not need your display backlight that bright, turn it down a few notches and enjoy a few more hours of power on your phone.
Check that homescreen/desktop
The more widgets you have running on your home screen, the more power is consumed, especially with widgets that often refresh to keep up-to-date.
Also, some of those home screen apps e.g., Sense on HTC device, and Timescape on Sony Ericsson devices, among others, are huge power guzzlers. Disable (or replace) them, and you might be surprised at how many extra hours of battery life you get on your smartphone.
Have you noticed that even people who drive SUVs avoid the bad sections of the road as much as possible? And to think that SUVs were built to handle tough terrains, right?
Bottom line, condition your battery, especially with the first couple of charging sessions. Thereafter, be sensible with your mobile usage. Just because modern smartphones are all-powerful does not mean that you must run them at full power all the time.
PS: Where all else fails, get the best battery life smartphone available – something with a big battery. Some of us do not like to turn off half of the functionalities of our phones in order to get through a day. Just get the best battery life smartphone in the market.
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Founder of MobilityArena. Yomi’s journey in mobile started in 2001. Besides obsessing over mobile phones, he also started creating WAP sites (early mobile-friendly websites created with WML). He began writing about phones in 2004 and has been at it since then. He has owned over 200 devices, from Symbian, Palm, PocketPC/Windows Mobile, BlackBerry/BB10, webOS, Windows Phone, Firefox, Ubuntu Touch, to Android, iOS, and KaiOS operating systems.