Extend your smart phone’s battery life

In last month’s column I promised a list of things you can do to conserve battery life on your smart phone in case of a power outage. The list below speaks to iPhone users specifically, but the principles apply to other devices as well. You might have to spend time looking through your phone’s settings, but you should find most of the same features.

Most of the tips come directly from Apple. So, I do have to give them credit. After all, they do manufacture the iPhone, so what better source? If you want to find their entire list, it’s available online at http://www.apple.com/batteries/iphone.html.

The first thing to do is to find out your usage, so you know how to adjust accordingly.  You can view your iPhone usage statistics by tapping the Settings icon on the Home screen and choosing General > Usage. Under the “Time since last full charge” heading you’ll see two items:

Usage: Amount of time the iPhone has been awake and in use since the last full charge. 

Standby: Amount of time the iPhone has been powered on since its last full charge, including the time the phone has been asleep.

It’s useful to know your usage because your phone uses a lithium-based battery that should go through at least one charge cycle per month (charging the battery to 100 percent and then completely running it down). Doing so will make your battery last longer.

The next thing you can do is optimize your settings. By default, smart phones come with many features turned on. You can turn many of these off in order to conserve battery life, and then just turn them on when you need them.

Turn Wi-Fi off

If your power is out, then most likely you don’t have access to the Wi-Fi in your home. In that case, there’s no need to have Wi-Fi on. Just turn it off, and turn it back on when you have access again. You can find it in Settings -> Wi-Fi -> Slide to Off.

Turn Bluetooth off

Unless you’re using a Bluetooth device (hands-free, car radio, etc.) there’s really no need to have this on. You can find it in Settings -> General -> Bluetooth -> Move Slider to Off.

Adjust brightness: 

Did you know that your iPhone can sense and adjust the screen brightness based upon light conditions? Dimming the screen is another way to extend battery life. Go to Settings > Brightness & Wallpaper and set Auto-Brightness to On. If you find it’s just not bright enough for you, you can always adjust it manually.

Turn off push mail:

If you have an e-mail account that sends messages to you as they arrive, you can turn that off and just receive e-mail in batches. Go to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Fetch New Data and set Push to Off. 

Turn off push notifications:

Some applications from the App Store use the Apple Push Notification service to alert you of new data. To disable push notifications, go to Settings > Notifications and disable notifications for select applications. (Note: The Notifications setting will not be visible if you do not have any applications installed that support push notifications.)

Minimize use of location services: 

There are quite a few applications that use location services. If you’re using the mapping app, location services allow the app to know where you are so that it can give you directions. These types of applications are a big drain on battery life. To disable location services, go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services.

Those are just a few things you can do to keep your phone lasting longer in an emergency. 

What have some of you done? Visit leave a comment below to let others know. If we get enough, I’ll even include them in a future column.