5 Ways to Stretch the Battery Life of Your Smartphone

Last Updated Aug 8, 2011 8:30 PM EDT

It's easy to forget about some of the significant steps backwards we sometimes make in the name of modern life. Ten years ago, my old-fashioned cell phone lasted the better part of a week on a single charge. These days, if I don't place my iPhone in its docking cradle when I'm sitting at my desk, it probably won't make it through a single day on one charge. Since last week I wrote about how to extend the life of your laptop battery, here are some tips for getting your smartphone to last a little longer on a single charge.

Dial back your display. Of course, the large color display is the single largest drain on your battery. Since your phone adjusts the screen's brightness based on the ambient lighting, one way to make it more efficient is to only check your phone indoors or in the shade -- in bright sunlight, your phone will be working at max power to make the display bright enough to see.

Shut it down sooner. Your phone has a setting that lets you specify how quickly to time-out the display and put the phone to sleep. Most people I know set that number to the maximum (around 3 minutes on most phones) for convenience, but most of the time you don't need it on that long. At least half that time you're just burning batteries. Dial it back to just one minute.

Turn off Bluetooth. Do you use Bluetooth a lot? Unless you have a Bluetooth headset in your ear all day long or you frequently use Bluetooth stereo headphones, you are wasting a lot of juice on powering the Bluetooth radio unnecessarily. Turn it off and just turn it on for those occasions when you need it.

Just say no to location requests. A lot of apps might ask permission to detect your location so that can provide more targeted information. That might be useful, but ask yourself: How useful? Every time an app has to ping your GPS chip, it uses a bunch of power. Unless you really need that kind of location awareness, just say no.

Turn off notifications. Tons of apps, it seems, want to notify you with all sorts of trivia. Most of the time, such notifications are utterly unimportant and simply waste battery power by forcing your screen to turn on for a few seconds many times throughout the day. [via MakeUseOf]

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