The “phone” part of the word “smartphone” keeps getting less relevant to the array of ways we use the mobile devices in our pockets and bags. Activities and tasks keep migrating from desktop and laptop to those small, but powerful, machines. But no matter what business-focused work we do with our iOS or Android phones–videoing, photographing, texting, selling, researching, buying or playing games–and yes, occasionally talking–one thing is clear: The time we spend using these devices is making it harder and harder to have enough battery life to make it through the day.
We’ve provided tips on extending battery life before. But smartphones and apps evolve. So here are some battery life extending tips that are current during mid-year 2016.
Note | Rather than spend time explaining why each of these tips works, we’ve added some links at the bottom of the page where you can find the why’s to go with these how-to’s.
| Enable your phone’s power-saving mode
Duh. Here’s an obvious one. Manufacturers have heard the battery complaints. So several newer phones have a power-saving mode that turns a phone’s screen to black and white, darkens the display, and turns off non-essential wireless features to reduce battery drain. (Partial list of phones that have power-saving mode: iPhone 6S, Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, HTC 10, LG G5, and Moto G)
| Use auto-brightness for the screen, manually-dim your screen or adjust your time-out feature
These are all variations on the same theme: Dimming your screen provides the most bang-for-the-buck when it comes to extending your battery life. How much? In one hourlong test, The Wirecutter (see link below) found that an iPhone 6s used 54 percent less battery power with the screen brightness at minimum as compared with maximum brightness. An Android test phone used 30 percent less
| Use fewer wireless features
Here are some things to disable unless you know precisely why you are using them (and there are many good reasons to use them, if you know why): GPS, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. (Disable them in your phone’s settings or on an iPhone, swipe up from the bottom of the screen and on an Android, swipe down.)
| Turn off (or use fewer) push notifications
Do you really need to know instantly that someone has commented on your Instagram cat photo? The push notification of every email you receive, rather than a filtered group of specific types of email, is an example of how tweaking notifications can save power.
| Tweak your email
In addition to managing push notifications related to email, most phones can be configured to check for new email on a schedule — say, every 30 minutes — or only when you manually tell your email app to refresh. The default setting is typically much more often which uses more battery.
| Know your apps
Some apps drain your battery more than others. For example, typing notes or reading an ebook use little power. Streaming Netflix or shooting a 4K video uses more.
Here’s how to know which apps are using the most power: On the iPhone’s battery usage screen, tap the clock button to reveal information about how much of your battery life each app is consuming when you’re actively using the app (“screen”) compared with when you’re not (“backgd”). On Android, the most useful information are the timers for “CPU total” and “CPU foreground.” Foreground is how much time you had the app open; subtract “foreground” from “total,” and you’ll know how much time the app has been busy in the background.
| Play downloaded music, podcasts instead of streaming
Streaming is the most popular way to listen to music with services like Spotify, Pandora and Apple Music. But streaming uses a river of power. Download a few personal favorite playlists or podcasts rather than streaming on those days you’ll be away from a re-charging opportunity.
Sources and helpful information
NYTimes.com | Tips and Myths About Extending Smartphone Battery Life
The Wirecutter | Reviews and recommendations related to mobile devices
Yahoo Finance | 6 easy ways to extend the battery life of your smartphone