How-To Geek

What You Said: Your Battery Life Maximizing Tips

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2012-01-27_113532Earlier this week we asked you to share your tips and tricks for squeezing more juice out of your mobile devices. Now we’re back with a roundup of those battery-extending tips.

Image by Nathan W. Pyle.

One of the primary, and easiest to apply tricks, is to toggle off the highest power consuming elements of your device. Chris writes:

I usually turn my screen brightness to the lowest setting and only charge when the battery is about to die.

For those curious why Chris waits until his battery is low to charge it: batteries have a finite number of charge cycles before the performance begins to degrade. Older Ni-Cad batteries had issues with battery memory but still had a recharge based life cycle (that said, some readers still found Ni-Cad batteries to be an ideal solution for their needs). Newer Lithium Ion batteries no longer suffer from the battery memory issues but they to have a fixed life cycle. While it takes quite a few charge cycles for performance to noticeably degrade and quite a few more for the battery to actually need a replacement, if you’re trying to really extend the life of your battery its worth paying attention to.

 John Weiss uses quick toggles to turn off the high-power items on his phone:

I use toggle icons to keep my 3g network, wi-fi connection, and GPS turned off. When I need them I turn them on, use them, and turn them off when done.

Most of these options are buried within system menus so it’s worth searching the App Store/Marketplace for quick access widgets. Most of the time we need cellular access but not Wi-Fi and GPS—turning just those two off can significantly extend battery life.

Michael skips the whole toggle on/off routine and upgrades:

Rather than fiddle with the settings and lose functionality, I bought a third party battery. They’re less than $20, and some of them last twice as long as the stock battery.

That’s a decent solution, although most of our newer electronics have pretty good batteries, historically we’ve gone the upgrade route. It doesn’t make sense to use a 1200 mAh battery in your cellphone if you can get a cheap 2000mAh battery that fits in the same space. 2012-01-27_115634

Xaviant goes a step further than simply toggling and uses Tasker to manage his connectivity:

For my laptop I made a hybrid power setting between low and max performance. On the battery it’s basically set to power saver, limiting processor state to about 80%, automatically turning off the display after 1 minute (If I happen to walk away and forget to close it), enabling sleep on lid close, hibernation after 30 minutes, things like that. I can usually get about a good 9 hours out of my laptop with these settings.

For my phone (Android), I use Tasker to turn off things like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth after about 10 minutes of no connectivity, and also to turn off when I go to sleep. I keep GPS off most of the time because I never really use it, And I usually get about 18 hours out of it before I ever need a charge. On top of that I also bought a universal backup battery from Duracell, just in case I ever kill it playing a game or something.

My iPod Touch is usually set to airplane mode when it’s off the dock. Just listening to music, it lasts me about 3 days before it ever needs a charge.

For more battery saving tips and tricks hit up the full comment thread here.

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 01/27/12

Comments (11)

  1. brgulker

    I just carry a spare battery and use my phone as much as i want ;) Verizon Galaxy Nexus.

  2. Vinh

    I would have to disagree with Chip. Most modern cellphone batteries use lithium based technology. Since most cellphones that have a short battery life are modern smart phones, we can assume that they have lithium ion or lithium polymer batteries. For Lithium, it doesn’t matter if you regularly charge your battery when possible, or if you wait until your battery is drained (at least it hasn’t been proven one way or another). The charge cycles is not based on how many times you recharge the battery, but the number of complete cycles that occur. Charging a 50% phone to full capacity uses have a charge cycle.
    One of the main killers of batteries (and other equipment) is heat. Charging your battery with a fast charger (5v @1a) will heat the battery and kill the it faster than a standard charger (5v @~.7a). Also, a standard USB port on your computer USB port will charge at .5a.

    Here’s some info on lithium charging:

  3. J003

    I got a spare battery for my Blackberry for $9 on Amazon so I don’t have to charge until I go to sleep.

  4. Johann

    As of Gingerbread your Wifi/GPS/data can be toggled form the notification bar, no need for toggle icons.

    My number one tip was uninstalling Viber… that used to destroy by battery for some reason. I get double what I used to now that’s gone. Odd.

  5. Carl

    I set all of my GUI’s, backgrounds, etc. to dark colors, then contrast important information such as text with a lighter color such as grey or white. This way energy is saved because the screen doesn’t have to generate as much light. Plus it looks cooler and is easier on th eyes XD

  6. DF

    GPS doesnt drain any battery unless it is in use. Even if you leave the setting on all the time it won’t actually start the GPS or give it power.

    Wifi also takes less battery than 3g, and scanning for wifi networks takes a negligible amount of battery. In fact, leaving your wifi on may actually save your battery, since your phone won’t maintain a 3g signal as long if it thinks you will be connecting to a network.

    The more you know.

  7. Jester

    Also, to add what DF just said, smartphones also have an ability to turn off the 3g data. Just check in your settings under “Wireless and Networks.”

  8. Joe

    if u just use iPod touch for music why u get it in the first place?

  9. svaroop

    @Chris, if u use ur cell till the battery dies u will l8r have serious health issues, as all cellphones give out a large amt of radiation esp. when a battery is low.. it can even cause migraine headache or othe issues with brain…

  10. Max

    The first tip mentioned is probably the best: turn the brightness to the lowest setting, since large bright screens typically use the most power (reducing the screen standby time also helps). Vibration also uses a lot of power, so turning off key touch vibration is a good idea. Disabling 3G and wireless scanning saves power, as does going Offline when in a low or no service signal area. I can get a week out of my older Samsung i8910 on a single charge using these techniques.

  11. Ron

    Is it bad for the battery to have charger/power supply connected whenever you are using the device in a convenient
    place for power?

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