Windsor Geek
Things You Can Do To Help Conserve The Charge In Your Phone's Battery

Apple, BlackBerry, Samsung and other leading brands have come up with phones equipped with powerful mobile operating systems such as Google's Android, Nokia's Symbian, Apple's iOS, etc, that allows users to play games, listen to mp3s, snap pictures, have access to the Net and even stream videos.

Given their diverse range of capabilities and multi-functionality running on a mobile (as in on-the-go) platform, it's no wonder that battery life is and has always been a concern for developers, manufacturers and the users themselves. On average, most phone batteries last between one and two days before being completely depleted, and in need of a recharge.

While we wait for battery technology to improve, the alternative is to conserve battery life. As it is with our own energy levels, battery life can be effectively utilised and managed, leaving nothing to go to waste. Without a battery charger or a spare battery with you everywhere you go, you'll have to make due with minimising the consumption of battery juice.

Here are 12 tips from which I hope you'll get ideas for things you can do to help conserve your phone's battery.

1. Turn Off Vibrating alerts - Vibrations are great for notifying you about incoming calls or messages when you're in the theatre, meetings or other places where it's necessary to keep the phone silent. In places where it doesn't matter, it will be better for you to use your ringtone as notification if you want to keep your phones on longer.

Vibrations actually use up more power than ringtones. The sounds produced by ringtones are just very tiny vibrations in your phone's speaker. Compare that to the shaking of the entire phone via vibrating a small weight. Playing a ringtone takes less out of your battery. The same applies for using vibration for tactile feedback. If you don't think it's necessary, then disable vibrations or at the very least, lessen the magnitude of the vibrations.

2. Dim Your Screen - This one tip affects battery life drastically. It's obvious that dimming your screen will reduce your phone's power consumption since we all have to activate the screen whenever we use our phones. If our screen is brightly lit up every couple of minutes when we check our emails and such, it will consume battery at a faster rate. The Auto-brightness setting enables the phone to adjust the brightness to its optimal level for reading while conserving battery life.

On the other hand though, you may consider tuning the level permanently to the dimmest level that you can still read under without straining your eyes. Doing so may do wonders for your battery life in the long run.

3. Shorten Screen Timeout - Consider shortening the screen timeout. This decides how long the screen will remain lit after you finish interacting with it.

Some of us do not have the habit of 'locking' the phone after we are done with it; we just let it go lights out by itself. Keeping the timeout duration short will ensure that the phone doesn't waste power when you're not using it.

4. Avoid Active Backgrounds - Active backgrounds are constantly running, even when your phone is in sleep mode. This means that your phone is constantly pumping out power that you cannot control. You can get an app killer to stop your games from running when they're not in use, but you can't do that with an active background. You have to decide which is more important - a cascading waterfall you may not ever see or several hours of charge time a day.

5. Switching Off When Inactive - Although it is true that turning on your phone consumes more power than unlocking your phone, switching it off for a couple of hours can save more battery than leaving it on sleep or inactive mode. If you know you're not going to touch your phone for an extended period of time, such as when you're attending a meeting or sleeping, you can actually cut down a significant amount of energy consumption if you simply switch it off.

You might be wondering why you should even bother about battery level when you've a charger with you at home while you sleep. Well, the thing is that repeated charging for certain kind of batteries eats up the battery volume. For such batteries, the best way is to conserve as much as you can so that your battery retains its original capacity as much as possible.

6. Get To Know Your Phone's Battery - Most batteries are now very low maintenance compared to their predecessors. However knowing more about the chemistry and characteristics of your phone's battery, how it works, and how you can improve its efficiency, can be very useful. It's worth investing a bit of time to Google for information which may just turn up some useful tips and tricks.

7. Close Unnecessary Apps - It's easy to open multiple apps and then not close them even after we no longer need to use them. This multi-tasking capability is a common feature of phones, but it's also a factor in reducing your phone's battery life.

Use the task manager to understand whether this is affecting you and, if so, understand which apps are involved and whether they can be safely closed down without impact. If there are apps which are running in the background when they shouldn't be look for a fix or update and, if necessary, let the app's vendor know about the problem. As an interim solution it's possible to use a task killer to forcibly close the misbehaving app.

8. Disable GPS - Certain apps use up more battery than others, particularly apps which utilise GPS to track your location. Your phone has a GPS unit that allows the sending and receiving of signals to and from satellites to accurately determine your location, which is essential for some apps to work, e.g., map-based apps like Google Maps or to check-in on Facebook.

When left running in the background, some of these apps may continue to send and receive signals. It takes a lot out of your battery to continuously do that, even if you aren't aware of it. Hence, you should ensure that those particular apps are closed when you don't need them. A more extreme way is to disable location services when prompted by these apps. It may slow down the efficiency of these apps but you won't be tracked on your location and some users deliberately do that for privacy reasons.

9. Disable Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 3G/4G When Not In Use - Battery energy is consumed whenever your phone searches for signals, Wi-Fi, 3G or Bluetooth etc. When the reception is poor, the phone will continue scanning in an attempt to attain a better connection. Repeated searches for multiple signals will make your battery level drop more rapidly.

So, if possible, turn off your phone's Wi-Fi or Bluetooth when you know you don't need to be connected. One convenient way to do it is to switch to 'Airplane Mode' or just switch your phone off when you know there's no signal or you have no need for one.

Conversely, when you need good signal strength, place your phone in a position where you can see from the display that this is increased. This will prevent your phones from constantly seeking for a connection and wasting your precious battery power switching from one signal to the other.

10. Minimise Notifications - With permanent connectivity to the Internet, it's easy to end up with a multitude of notifications on our phone all the time. Whether it's updates on the latest news, emails, high scores from games, add-ons for apps etc. Not only is it annoying to constantly receive irrelevant notifications that can actually wait, it is also an additional drain on battery power for each of these notifications. Every incoming notification will light up your screen, make a sound alert or vibrate.

Manage your subscriptions and settings well and disable unnecessary notifications to save a little battery power and, perhaps, even save some of your own precious time by avoiding the need to give attention to so many notifications.

11. Help your phone keep its cool - You may have noticed that your battery runs out faster when your phone is warm. Just like us our phone's battery becomes less efficient the hotter it gets. Therefore avoid leaving your phone in direct sunlight or in any place that is hot. Conversely the battery efficiency will improve in cooler environments.

12. Spread the load - If you like listening to music at night to help send you to sleep, keep an mp3 player by your bedside to use for that purpose instead. Doing so will help lighten the load on your phone's battery. You never know tomorrow might be the time you need to make or take that important call and you don't have any battery left nor enough time to charge.