Battery life is the Achilles heel of expensive smartphones such as Apple’s iPhone 5 and Samsung’s Galaxy S4 - but making yours last longer is surprisingly easy.
Eric Limer of tech site Gizmodo made headlines around the world with an in-depth guide to charging smartphones this week - in particular for suggesting that you shouldn’t charge phones to full.
But there are a few other tricks which can help extend a smartphone’s battery - even tiny details, such as choosing a dark screensaver, not a bright one, can help.
If all that fails, battery apps such as Green Power can help pinpoint problems, such as apps that are using more than their fair share of battery - and help your phone last longer.
Turn the brightness settings down on your phone. Most of your phone’s battery drain is from running the screen. On any phone, set the screen to turn off after 30 seconds.
Don't use vibrate
Using vibration instead of ring tones actually consumes more power - making the entire phone vibrate is harder than making a tiny speaker vibrate. Where possible, switch your phone to silent instead.
[Related: Don't throw out that PC - 10 tips to make yours last]
Force your phone to sleep
Your phone will last far longer if it goes into “deep sleep” whenever possible. If you have a lot of apps, some of them may be keeping your phone ‘awake’, just to communicate with home base. An Android app called Better Battery Stats will run down exactly what is waking up your phone, and enable you to turn it off. If you can keep your phone in ‘deep sleep’, it’ll last.
Don’t use animated screensavers. It even makes a difference to switch to a black, or dark, screen background so it doesn’t burn as much electricity when you’re in the menus.
Shut down apps you don’t need
Make sure your phone isn’t running apps in the background. On iPhone, you can check by double-tapping the Home button, then pressing ‘X’ to shut ones you don’t need. If you’re unsure, restart your phone to banish apps that might be running without you knowing.
Use an app to last longer
Green Power for Android is superb. It shuts down your data connection if the screen is off, then you set it to check for emails, say, every ten minutes. On its own this app can double your battery life. It’s recommended by several networks in U.S. and is now available in the UK.
Ditch Bluetooth, GPS and Wi-Fi unless you're using htem
Switch off wi-fi, Bluetooth, and GPS unless you need them. This will immediately add about a third to your battery life. Lots of people leave them on all the time. On both iPhone and Android, controls to do this are easily accessed via phone menu.
Turn off voice control
Apple and Samsung, both fill your phone with their own apps - disable these wherever possible, especially voice control apps that use the phone's microphone. Never use Apple’s Siri voice control, it’s murder on your battery, likewise Samsung’s S Voice. Make sure your phone isn’t running other Apple/Samsung apps you don’t need or want.
Check your battery
If your phone gets hot while you use it, it could be that your battery is on its last legs. New ones are cheap on eBay, and if your phone’s old, you can also get ones with much higher storage than the ones it shipped with. Sorry, iPhone owners, this won’t work for you - you can’t take the back off.
Don’t charge it to full
Eric Limer of Gizmodo says that “battery memory” means that you should never run your battery empty - and avoid charging it to full. “You should try to go from around 40 percent to around 80 percent in one go, and then back down whenever possible,” says Limer. “A bunch of tiny charges isn't as bad as going from 100 down to zero all the time, but it's not optimal either.”
Switch off 3G and 4G
If you’re running low, switch off 3G. This can double the battery life of a dying phone - basically, there are at least two aerials working all the time in most phones, so if you switch to 2G, it’ll still work as a phone and for texts, but will last twice as long, just like phones did in ‘the good old days’.
If you’ve followed the above tips and your phone battery still doesn’t last very long, it’s time to consider a charging accessory. The Mophie JuicePack Air (£40) fits over your smartphone, doubling the battery life, alternatively if you don’t fancy changing the look of your phone consider a portable battery charger like Proporta TurboCharger 7000 (£54).