How to Extend the Life of Your Smartphone Battery: What Works and What's A Myth

By Jacqueline Kim on

It’s hard to imagine what life was like before cell phones. How did anybody in the 90s survive the day’s inevitable change of plans, updates, and urgent messages? The closest experience to this kind of inconvenience is having your mobile phone battery die when you urgently need to call a ride or find friends in a large crowd.

Smartphones might have made huge advancements in technology, but when it comes to efficient battery life, the technology is still lagging behind. But there is a way to make life easier with tried-and-true methods for extending your cell phone’s battery life. Unveil the myths and discover what really works according to top tech experts.


The Myths of Extending Your Battery Life


In a 2014 survey, consumers reported that battery life was a top factor in choosing a smartphone, making this technology a natural research boon in the tech world. Wirecutter, a product recommendation website, went on a myth-busting mission to find the best and worst practices for extending battery life. Their research revealed that not only do conventional methods not work but they also use up even more juice.

A common myth follows the idea that turning off Bluetooth helps your phone get better battery life. But researchers found in tests that it only uses trace amounts of battery power if you have it switched on but not connected to a device. However, actively using a Bluetooth connection uses a significant amount of power. If your battery is running low, don’t stream audio with Bluetooth.

Turning off Wi-Fi is another typical misconception in battery life extension. If you have a strong Wi-Fi signal, your phone actually uses less power to get online compared to a cellular connection, which makes disabling Wi-Fi even more an energy drain. Also, if you frequently use apps that require your location, Wi-Fi helps your phone determine your location instead of relying on GPS features that are big power hogs. 

Another popular tip for extending battery life is shutting down phone apps that you are no longer using. Apps running in the background are thought to use more of your phone’s processing components but they’re actually frozen and not using much power, which makes them an insignificant power drain. A smartphone’s operating system is also designed to save power by automatically closing apps when it needs memory for other tasks. Quitting apps can actually cause more battery drain because force quitting may purge all of the code from your phone’s RAM, which causes your phone to upload all of the code again when you reopen the app. 

Disabling Siri or Ok Google is another common myth. Even though having this hands-free feature enabled uses a significant amount of energy, tests showed that disabling these features didn’t make much difference in battery life.


What Actually Works


A method that does work is using auto-brightness for the screen. A Smartphone screen is one of the device’s biggest power hogs so it makes sense to reduce the screen brightness. But a dim lit screen is difficult to use in bright lighting, which makes the auto-brightness function helpful because it automatically adjusts the screen according to the brightness of the environment.

Another way to get more battery life is by blocking power sucking ads. Installing an ad blocker allows you to browse the web on your cell phone without burning through energy from downloading mobile ads or websites.

If you receive lots of emails, it might be time to update your email settings. When your Smartphone gives you push notifications the instant you receive a message, this can be a major energy drain because it requires your phone to constantly be listening for new messages. Instead of using the push notification feature, configure your settings to check your email at scheduled 30-minute intervals. Or, change the settings to manual so it only checks email when you refresh your email app.

Streaming music is also a big drain on battery life. The researchers at Wirecutter recommend listening to downloaded music instead. In fact, they found that streaming over a Wi-Fi connection uses twice as much energy as listening to the same music stored directly on your device. Luckily, many popular music streaming apps like Spotify and Pandora now have features that allow you to download music.


If you follow these tips but still need more juice to survive the day, an external battery that connects to your phone with a cable is a simple solution. This device can extend battery life an additional several hours, which is a lifesaver when you’re juggling work and life on the run and need to stay connected.

With the hectic pace of modern life, most people can’t live without their cell phone by their sides at all times. A smartphone connects you to the world with the tap of a finger, which makes it worthwhile to get in the habit of employing power-saving methods used by top tech authorities.



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