Making your smartphone battery last longer

CBS MoneyWatch
Smartphone Battery

(Photo: Aaron Yoo - Flickr)

Yahoo editors have selected this article as a favorite of 2013. It first ran on Yahoo Shopping on July 17th and was one of the most popular stories of the year. The story offers simple tips on how to prolong your smartphone's battery.

We're a smartphone society now -- people do everything on their phones, from checking e-mail and Facebook posts to watching video and surfing the Web. All that comes at a price, though: bear attacks and woefully short battery life.

While there's little I can do about the bears, I can offer a near-dozen practical tips for extending the battery life of your phone, which reduces the frequency of charges (and hopefully let's you make it home at the end of the day before the juice runs dry).

Adjust the screen brightness. The default setting for your screen is probably brighter than it needs to be, and the display is the single largest consumer of battery power on your phone. Turn it down to the lowest level that still comfortable to see.

Sleep sooner. Your phone lets you specify how quickly to turn off the display and put the phone to sleep. You can extend the life of your phone significantly by ensuring the phone turns itself off quickly rather than staying on for several minutes every time you check the time.

Turn off notifications. Many apps enable display notifications. Most of the time, these are pointless and a waste of battery power since they force your screen to light up briefly many times throughout the day. Disable apps' notifications to extend  battery power.

Disable any antennas not in use. Never (or only rarely) use Bluetooth. Make sure it's turned off in your settings. The same is true of Wi-Fi, though if you're like most people, you probably use that quite a bit. If your battery is near death, though, and you need to keep it alive as long as possible, you can enter Airplane Mode (which turns off all the radios, including voice).

Minimize the gadgets your phone syncs with. The new Pebble smartwatch is great, but it imposes a battery penalty on your phone to the tune of about 10 percent of battery life per day. There are also Bluetooth headsets, your car and other high-tech conveniences that consume power. If you want to maximize battery life, minimize the number of gadgets you connect to.

Say no to location requests. Many apps ask permission to detect your location so they can provide more targeted information. That might be useful, but every time an app has to ping your GPS chip, it uses power. Unless you really need that location function, just say no.

Sync less frequently. Most smartphones are designed to check for e-mail and apps data every 15 or 30 minutes. If you can live with less frequent updates, extend those minutes to a full hour. This will have a noticeable effect on battery life.

Lower the volume. Turn down your phone's overall volume, including the ringer.

Turn off vibrate. You might need this feature -- especially if you leave your phone in your pocket all the time -- but making a mechanical vibrator jiggle takes a lot of juice. Turn it off for more runtime.

Keep it cool. A hot battery drains faster than a cool one -- so if your phone is hot to the touch, it's running inefficiently. That can happen when you leave it in your car, in your pocket or on top of another hot gadget, like a laptop. Running the phone continuously can also make it heat up.

Turn it off completely. If you know you won't use your phone for a while -- like in a meeting or at the movie theater -- shut it off rather than just quieting the ringer.

Photo: Aaron Yoo on Flickr

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