Increasing your phone’s battery life By Kielon Hilaire. (BSc Internet Technology). Let’s face it, most of us are in love with our smartphones and we use them every day for hours doing anything from making calls, surfing the net, listening to music, streaming videos on YouTube and Whatsapping or Facebooking anyone we can think of the moment something noteworthy pops into our heads. All of this vibrant activity can truly be self-fulfilling but when done in succession it causes the batteries in our phones to discharge and depreciate much faster than we would like. Complicating matters is the fact that the issue can either be hardware or software related and that buying a new phone may not always solve the problems due to the limitations of modern-day battery technology, which means that the onus is mostly on us to increase the life of our batteries.
First of all, it’s important to keep in mind that all batteries are not created equally and this can be most easily recognised by the number of mAhs each battery contains. Higher numbers mean higher capacity. As an example, most of today’s flagship phones—the best of the best—have an average of 3,000 mAhs or higher. On paper, it would seem that a battery with more mAhs would just naturally last longer than every other but then you also have to factor in other elements that come with each phone like the type of screen display, chipset and CPU used, which all need to be optimised to work well with each other in order to maximise battery life. Accepting this reality makes it easier for you to not be quick to always blame the phone itself because essentially you get what you pay for.
Apart from Internet browsing, video watching, game playing and binge messaging (messaging quite a lot!), the following are generally the biggest battery drainers of smartphones: high screen brightness, too many apps running in the background and abuse of GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or Mobile Data. The solution for these basic issues in respective order is to not set your screen to maximum brightness or instead use auto brightness, to only install apps that you absolutely need and to turn on your phone’s location and connectivity software only when definitely required. Something worth mentioning is that your battery charge reduces significantly faster when you are using Wi-Fi and Mobile Data to obtain connectivity from a source with a weak signal. Extending the list of basic solutions for increasing battery life include minimising use of your phone’s vibration feature, keeping the screen display timeout as short as possible and going easy on bombarding your home screens with icons, animations and widgets.
More advanced solutions for increasing battery life
More advanced solutions for increasing battery life also exist but they require you to be more methodological in your approach. Many smartphones nowadays come with a built-in power saving feature that you can quickly toggle on and off. It usually helps you save a little power but installing apps like Greenify, DU Battery Saver and Battery Doctor often help save your battery life a lot more. I’ve always preferred DU battery Saver for it’s ease of use but the trick is to experiment with different battery-saving software and see which ones work best with your phone. Another thing a lot of people don’t consider is that different apps running in the background of their phones can cause different levels of battery drain. As an example, after running BBM and Skype for months it’s safe to say that BBM just had a way of reducing my battery life so much faster even when I was not using it, so this is something to be mindful of; pay close attention to the apps you have installed as sometimes a single application could be the culprit that is causing you to prematurely run out of juice. Install and reinstall particular apps if you have to and test how much power they use.
Last but certainly not least is the aspect of battery life that most people take for granted: how to increase battery life long-term as opposed to just focussing on decreasing its drainage time each day. To do this, you need to put some effort into understanding how to properly charge your phone. Most batteries these days are made from lithium-ion (li-ion) batteries, which don’t suffer from memory effect that causes batteries to hold less charge, but they do have a maximum number of charge cycles. These batteries last longer when you charge them often however you should generally not let them decrease to 0% or leave them charging all day. The most ideal way to charge these batteries is to keep them charged between 50-85% as much as possible. Too many complete charges (from 0 to 100%) more quickly reduces overall lifespan. Nevertheless, it is recommended that once per month you do a complete charge — think of it as doing a “system restart” for your battery. Other useful advice would be to always use the original charger that comes with your phone, to remove the case from your phone if charging overnight to prevent overheating and to not store phone batteries in temperatures that are too hot or cold. Also take note that when a lithium-ion battery is not in use it still drains about 5-10% per month so be sure to charge them often else they will eventually stop holding a meaningful charge, especially if the battery repeatedly drains to that dreaded 0%.
At the end of the day whether the battery is built-in or removable no battery can last forever, but following the advice outlined in this article could very well ensure that you feel more at ease to step away from your wall socket more often or not get heart attacks on those days when you forget or are unable to carry a trusty, external battery pack.
June 2016 – Issue 21 www.sweettntmagazine.com
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