10 tips for extending your device’s battery life

Battery life is one of the biggest concerns when buying a mobile device or tablet. More often than not with modern devices, usage time is sacrificed in favour of cramming in more features that suck up power, and features which are now standard, such as 4G LTE, HD screens and GPS location services all contribute to the drain.

While battery technology is improving, it will be a long time until we can have the multi-day battery life of your early-2000s Nokia combined with the features of your favourite tablet. Until that day comes, here are several battery-saving tips you can follow to maximise your smartphone’s or tablet’s battery life:

  1. Check your battery saver settings
  2. Turn down your brightness
  3. Turn off unnecessary connectivity
  4. Stop apps refreshing
  5. Update your software
  6. Use a power-saving mode
  7. Turn off automatic downloads
  8. Carry a spare charger around
  9. Drain its battery regularly
  10. Keep it out of the sun

Check out your battery settings

The first step you can take is to go to your device settings and check out which features are using the most battery – these are the ones you should modify to get the biggest boost to your battery life. You should be able to find this information in the battery section of the settings app that comes with every model, regardless of the brand. This feature shows you what percentage of your battery loss has gone towards which app, as well as how much time you spend on each. For example, if you spend a lot of time playing mobile games such as Pokémon GO, then your phone’s battery will disappear much quicker. The same applies to tablets. Checking your battery settings can help you minimize your usage of certain apps, and thus maximize your tablet’s battery life.

Turn down the brightness

This one is fairly straight-forward, and most of you probably do this already. On most devices, the screen is the single biggest user of battery life and the area where you can make the biggest difference. Dimming the screen by only a few increments is an effective way to conserve your phone or tablet’s battery whilst keeping your screen legible. You can also make sure to set your brightness to a minimum when sitting in a darker space, such as when watching a movie at home. Turning off automatic brightness is also a good idea, as this will usually make your screen brighter than necessary. There is a significant difference in the average battery life of a phone or tablet that uses the minimum brightness than the battery life of one that uses the maximum brightness. Using the lowest possible brightness could save you up to several hours of battery life, assuming you are also following some of the following steps.

Turn off unnecessary connectivity

One of the other big drainers of battery life is hardware radios such as Wi-Fi, cellular connectivity, Bluetooth, GPS, NFC and location services. Turning these off when not using them is an easy way to save battery – things such as turning off mobile connectivity when using Wi-Fi at home, or turning off Wi-Fi when out and about, are common ways to do this, and most devices can turn these settings on or off with the touch of a button. So if you’re out of home and your phone is just sitting in your pocket, be sure to turn all of these off, as they can be turned on again very quickly should you need to use them.

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Stop apps refreshing

Does your email update itself every minute, even when you’re asleep? Is your Facebook app constantly checking for new stories? A great way to use less power (and less data as well) is to check the settings of main apps such as these to make sure they’re not refreshing too often and wasting resources – especially at times when you’re not even using your tablet! You can stop this by going into settings and then selecting the individual app. The option may be worded differently depending on the app and model, but for some there will be a variation of ‘background app refresh’. Turn this off to stop the apps from fetching data when they aren’t being used.

Update your software

Unsurprisingly, many of the software updates rolled out for both apps and for operating systems such as Android and iOS are aimed at reducing the amount of resources that the software uses. This means less power being drained from your device and a longer battery life for you to enjoy. So if you’ve been holding off on that OS upgrade thinking that new features will cripple your battery life (or because you don’t want to give in to those annoying notifications!), the case is more likely the opposite. So if you have the option to upgrade your tablet, do so now, as you will likely experience a longer battery life after.

Use a power-saving mode

Some operating systems, including the recently-released Android 6.0 Lollipop and iOS 9.3.3 updates, have a built-in power saving mode which reduces animations and features in order to conserve battery. For iOS models, the latest power-saving mode automatically turns off background app refreshing, automatic downloads and data fetching, all of which contribute significantly to sapping your tablet’s battery life. Modes such as this can be turned on at any time, and also prompts you to do so once the battery falls below a certain threshold, making them useful tools for lasting a bit longer until you can reach a charger.

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Turn off automatic downloads

It is now fairly common knowledge that closing your apps once you’re finished with them saves on your device’s battery life, but if you have it turned on in your settings, then these apps can still download updates even when they aren’t open. These updates aren’t just the software updates, as some apps such as games are constantly uploading and downloading things like high scores to online leaderboards. Going into your settings and turning off automatic updates, or making it so that they only update while on Wi-Fi, can save you a decent amount of battery over time.

Carry a portable charger around

A lot of people who use their tablets and smartphones throughout their daily life are starting to turn to portable chargers, as even the most frugal battery saving tips are sometimes not enough for heavy users. There are countless portable chargers out there to choose from, and they can often be used for both tablets and smartphones, meaning you can potentially charge both devices while out and about. The best ones can charge multiple devices at once, and can even last for more than 6 hours! Because there are so many different brands of portable chargers out there, it would be wise for you to do as much research as you can if you decide to buy one.

Drain its battery regularly

Because of how important our devices have become, a lot of people (myself included!) have become paranoid about leaving them on low battery, and charge them overnight. Believe it or not, there are many reputable sources that believe this is actually harmful to your battery long-term, as charging your battery regularly while it is close to full capacity can reduce the overall capacity of your battery. Every month or so, allow your smartphone or tablet to fall below 30% battery capacity to give it a proper workout.

Keep it out of the sun

One of the easiest ways to ruin your tablet or smartphone is to regularly expose it to extreme conditions. You’ve surely experienced a day out at some point where the back of your phone became very hot, and its battery fell rapidly as a result. This is because both heat and cold have adverse effects on your device’s health. According to HowtoGeek, the absolute maximum temperature your devices can manage is 90 °C, while battery performance begins to suffer after 70 °C. If you feel your phone or tablet getting hot, turn it off immediately. Doing so can not only save battery life, but can also save it from damage in the long-term.

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