With everything going wireless, mobile battery life might be the one thing holding millennials back from completely unplugging from the physical world. Being connected and mobile may be the essence of modern life but it means very little without battery life.
Mobility is rather limited if you’re leashed to your phone’s battery charger. Even then, batteries are tricky beasts; it’s a constantly evolving technology. Something those with an iPhone 6 battery learned earlier this year when Apple said they might have to recall some iPhone models. This was a perennial problem for the iPhone 5 battery as well. Most of us have just had to resort to portable chargers, a battery phone case or lugging that tangled charger in the handbag.
To be fair to the tech wizards, more and more mobile phones now come with quick charge, advanced battery management and short-range wireless charging. Although we are some ways away from having a long-range wireless power supply (like Nikola Tesla imagined), wireless charging is becoming part and parcel of most flagship Android devices; while a completely wirelessly charged iPhone 8 is still part rumour.
Still, there are days when you know you’ll be going socket-less and scrounging for every morsel of power, and so we’ve come up with these: a holy trinity of power saving tricks to help you extend your phone’s battery life.
Power Saver Trick One: WiFi management
Swapping between WiFi and mobile data isn’t a seamless process, and it costs your phone battery. Knowing when to have WiFi on or off can make the world of difference to you and your battery’s life.
When you’re on-the-go, WiFi on your phone will be ceaselessly hunting for signals, using this information to triangulate your position and trying to link up with hubs you pass by. Help your battery: turn off WiFi when you’re mobile so your phone can focus on its cellular signal (usually 4G or 3G depending on your location).
WiFi needs to be on when you can get it. When you’ve stopped moving about and you can get a solid WiFi connection (either at home, work, a friend’s house or a café with hotspot) you should use it. Use it to trawl the net or update your social feeds. This will save your phone battery by ceasing its scouting for mobile data towers – which requires your phone to fight for its space in the airwaves, draining power.
WiFi Assist works well for iPhones. Hanging onto a weak WiFi signal is a power saving liability – and your phone will try to hang on to even a thread of WiFi. Cue WiFi Assist. This nifty setting will manage this automatically: switching back to mobile data and saving your iPhone battery life when appropriate. Simply go to Settings > Cellular and toggle Wi-Fi Assist on.
Power Saver Trick Two: Disable Background Apps Refreshing
Having apps running in the background can drain battery – but not always. In fact, the iOS geeks recommend you don’t go about manically closing every app after using it – since completely rebooting the app again can actually drain more battery.
However, a lot of apps try to be clever and will update themselves when you open your phone – eagerly anticipating your attentions. This does burn your phone’s battery (not to mention your mobile data).
Go to Settings > General > Background App Refresh and chose to turn it off completely or allow/disallow certain apps individually. In your battery settings you can also see which apps are using the most of your power and decide whether they’re worth keeping on or deleting entirely.
You might want to disable Siri while you’re at it – she’s quite a drain: Settings > General > Siri.
Power Saver Trick Three: Turn on power saving mode
What does batter life have in common with headphones? Long trips would be hell without them. So, our final tip for saving vital phone juice is power saving modes. Underrated by most of us, low power modes do more these days than just dim your brightness. Use it before your phone battery needs it. Are you just going to be listening to a saved podcast during that long commute, for example? Then turn it on. This can increase your phone’s battery life by several hours.
iOS 9 added the Low Power Mode that has some clever adaptions for saving your iPhone battery life. Coming on at 20% battery (although you can manually toggle in at any time in Setting > Battery) it will turn off all of the most power draining background services on your iPhone and automatically stops those naughty little apps from refreshing themselves. Android’s Lollipop update added a similar function called Battery Saver mode.
Mobile phone technology has made many tasks, like navigating a new city or organising meet ups with friends, considerably easier. But unfortunately only you can remember to keep that battery life healthy.
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