This guest post was contributed by Bob Gorman.
Whether you have an iPhone or an Android phone, each component in your phone uses battery power to perform its function. The processor and LCD screen use the most power, but your Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and 4G antennas use battery power, too. Modern smartphone operating systems do a lot of processing in the background, so it’s very likely that you don’t even know that you’re draining your battery more than necessary.
Turn off Mail Fetching
The biggest background battery wasters are automatic mail fetching and GPS location services. You can disable all connectivity by turning on airplane mode when you don’t need to use the Internet or make calls, but it’s also a good idea to fine-tune your settings for when airplane mode isn’t an option.
In iOS and Android, you can access your mail preferences from the Settings menu or from your mail app’s options menu. Set your mail app to fetch mail only when you tap “Refresh.” This setting prevents your phone from going online in the background, which runs down your battery by scanning for networks and downloading data.
It especially drains your battery if the network has a weak signal that repeatedly gets dropped, causing your phone to scan and reconnect multiple times. If battery life is important to you, it’s better simply to wait until you have a good connection, preferably a Wi-Fi network so that downloads will take less time and use less energy.
Disable Location Services
Location services are at work almost constantly in the background as you move from place to place. The new operating systems are excellent at using as little power as possible; they’re designed by the best software engineers in the industry. However, using location services all the time is a luxury and convenience. It’s not necessary, and it wastes battery power. You can switch this feature off in the Settings menu in both iOS and Android, or you can simply turn on airplane mode to disconnect all networks at once. Most apps prompt you to turn on location services when they’re needed, so you can simply leave them off most of the time.
Minimize the Amount of Power Your Screen Uses
Over the last five years or so, smartphone screens have gotten a lot bigger, and those clunky fold-out keyboards have been totally phased out. The big screens use more battery power than the keyboards, but you can minimize how much power your screen uses by dimming it and using muted colors for your wallpaper.
Another point to bear in mind regarding wallpaper is that animated backgrounds use a lot more power than static ones. The iPhone 5s has a pretty cool parallax effect built into its photo viewer and wallpaper, but any type of motion, transition or animation draws battery power to your display. Bright colors also use up your battery. Imagine using a blank, white wallpaper and turning up the screen’s brightness all the way; it’s like having a huge, rectangular flashlight.
Pay Attention to the Operating Temperature
Using your smartphone in temperatures above 95° F can permanently damage the battery and cause it to work inefficiently for the rest of its lifetime, and it’s even worse to charge the battery in high temperatures. While you may notice your battery draining more quickly under low temperatures, this effect is temporary and goes away when you bring your phone back to the normal operating range. The iPhone is designed to work in somewhat cool temperatures; its ideal operating range is 62° F to 72° F, which is unrealistic for a lot of people.
Smartphone Battery Conservation Best Practices
Both Android and Apple devices have convenient quick settings menus accessible from the home screen. Control Center in iOS and Quick Settings in Android have options for screen brightness, location services, airplane mode, Wi-Fi, music playback and other features. It’s a good idea to get in the habit of adjusting these settings as necessary.
Extending your smartphone’s battery life is getting easier and easier as smartphone hardware becomes more efficient. The default settings aren’t always set to conserve energy, but by learning how your device uses power and understanding the software, you can prolong the amount of time you have between charges.