Tips for Extending the Life of Your Smartphone Battery

Smartphones can serve as universal remote controls for your TV and home theater system, monitor or start a load of clothes in your washer or dryer, shoot HD movies and screen streaming entertainment. Prolonging battery life and extracting as much operating time as possible from an individual charge keeps your smartphone at the ready when you need it.

Screen Brightness

Powering your smartphone screen at maximum brightness draws down battery reserves. You can reduce display levels manually to a lower level without crippling your ability to see onscreen information, or save almost as much energy with your phone's automatic brightness adjustment. The time intervals you set to control how long the phone remains inactive before the screen blacks out and the device locks itself also make critical contributions to battery management. The trick lies in avoiding constant manual adjustments, which require more energy than leaving the device active a bit longer.

On OLED and AMOLED screens, which use self-illuminating lighting elements, a blacked-out display draws virtually no power. Animated screen backgrounds use ongoing processor power to display changing visuals, another battery drain. Keeping your device cool also benefits the battery. Bruno Scap, president of technology-management firm Galeas Consulting, notes a fundamental rule of smartphone care: "Do not expose your phone to high temperatures. Leaving your phone in direct sunlight or in a hot car will cause the battery to overheat and degrade at a much faster pace."

Signals and Connections

As you move from location to location, your smartphone seeks network bandwidth. That quest for signal requires processing power and, therefore, battery life. Scap warns that "Bluetooth can drain the battery very quickly, as can your phone constantly seeking a connection in areas with poor or no signal. To increase your battery life, make sure you have a healthy signal where you use your phone."

Widgets require a constant connection to obtain at-a-glance weather data, sports scores or stock updates, as do GPS location services. Scap points out that "Additionally, using the Internet and flash photography may contribute to faster battery drain." Airplane mode, which disables radio functions, provides a quick way to stop the battery drain caused by signal search, as does turning off connection modes you don't need in favor of those you want.

Charge Cycles

"Battery training," a series of discharge/recharge cycles designed to force a battery to accept as much power as it can hold, constitutes a procedural remnant of the days of nickel cadmium and nickel metal hydride batteries. The cells in most smartphones don't require such procedures. Scap calls the idea that these devices require a full discharge for memory training "the biggest myth" about their batteries, adding that "smartphone batteries are lithium-ion, and discharging the battery fully may invoke a safety mechanism that will disable the battery permanently."

Battery Replacement

Even if you implement sensible device management, keep your apps up to date to benefit from increases in operating efficiency and unplug your phone from the charger after the battery fills up, your smartphone's power source eventually loses its ability to maintain a charge sufficient to keep your device running. Scap recommends watching for the classic signs of power cells on a decline. "Main indicators that your battery may need to be replaced are: if you notice that you need to charge your smartphone more often, it becomes unusually warm during charge or usage, or if the phone discharges rapidly in a short amount of time."

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