5 Tips: Stretch Smartphone, Tablet Battery Life - InformationWeek
Mobile // Mobile Devices
11:44 AM

5 Tips: Stretch Smartphone, Tablet Battery Life

Waiting out the winter storm? Here's how to make your mobile device's battery last until the electricity comes back on.

Six Ways The iPhone 5 and iOS 6 Amp Up Social Opportunities
Six Ways The iPhone 5 and iOS 6 Amp Up Social Opportunities
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Today's mobile devices rely on rechargeable batteries. Most smartphones, tablets, and laptops use lithium-ion or lithium-polymer batteries to provide power. Some devices are better at managing power than others, but users -- and apps -- still play a big role in draining those batteries.

Here are some tips to help you stay powered up and connected while cleaning up in Nemo's wake.

1. Lower Screen Brightness.

The screen uses the most power. Hardware makers generally set their battery life guidelines based on brightness settings of about 50%. Rather than use the auto-brightness setting, which adjusts the display's brightness to match the amount of ambient light nearby, use the manual controls. I generally keep the displays of my mobile devices set to between 25% and 30% brightness. That's still plenty bright for indoor use, and even during the day, when it's sunny out. If you're going to be in a dark room, such as your home or office, adjust it down further to lengthen the battery life even more.

[ Wish your iPad lasted longer on one charge? Read 5 Tips: Maximize New iPad Battery Life. ]

2. Use Wireless Radios Sparingly.

After the screen, the wireless radios in mobile devices are the second worst culprits in draining battery life. Although it requires futzing with the controls, you can easily maximize battery life by adjusting radios. First, know what networks are available and how your device will use them. All modern smartphones and some tablets have cellular radios in addition to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Most devices will connect to known Wi-Fi networks by default if they are available and skip the cellular network. This is good because it helps preserve battery life. If your home or office has lost power, and there's no Wi-Fi available, turn Wi-Fi off. Also, make sure that the Bluetooth radio is off unless you're actively using a Bluetooth accessory, such as a keyboard or headset.

3. Turn Off Notifications.

Notifications wake the screen, vibrate the device, sound an alarm, or cause a little red light to blink. These all drain power, even if only a little bit. Although each manage notifications a little differently, all of the major mobile operating systems -- Android, BlackBerry OS, iOS and Windows Phone -- let users turn off or otherwise minimize incoming notifications. Take advantage of this option to save power.

4. Turn Off Location Services.

After managing cellular radios, wisely managing location services is key to good battery life. Most devices access location through three different avenues: GPS, cellular or Wi-Fi. Each can be turned on or off separately on most devices, which is helpful for tweaking power consumption. Turn GPS off completely, as it drains the most power. Turn off cellular location if you can. If you absolutely must have some form of location service active, keep Wi-Fi on. Once again, Wi-Fi is the best way to save battery life. If you're going to stay home all day you can turn off all three.

5. Sync Email And Other Data Less Often.

When mobile devices wake up to check for email or other synced data such as calendar events, they slurp power. The more often the device checks for data, the more power it consumes. To save battery life, turn push email off entirely -- set it to manual, rather than have the device sync it automatically once every 15, 30 or 60 minutes. This way the device will check for mail only when you open your email app, rather than constantly. You can do the same with social networking services, such as Facebook, Twitter and myriad other apps that rely on network connections for data.

With these handy tips under your belt, your mobile device should last plenty long enough to keep you informed until the power comes back on.

Attend Interop Las Vegas May 6-10, and attend the most thorough training on Apple deployment at the NEW Mac & iOS IT Conference. Join us in Las Vegas for access to 125+ workshops and conference classes, 350+ exhibiting companies, and the latest technology. Use Priority Code DIPR02 by Feb. 9 to save up to $500 off the price of Conference Passes. Register for Interop today!

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Melanie Rodier
Melanie Rodier,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/11/2013 | 6:54:22 PM
re: 5 Tips: Stretch Smartphone, Tablet Battery Life
I agree, WiFi is a huge power drain - then again, it's typically faster than 4G or others, so if you're running low and really need to quickly look something up on the web it might still be worth it. But in addition to wireless radio, watching videos is a huge battery no-no too.
User Rank: Apprentice
2/11/2013 | 1:58:41 PM
re: 5 Tips: Stretch Smartphone, Tablet Battery Life
Turn off Wi Fi - that's the biggest power draw in most cases.
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2017 State of the Cloud Report
As the use of public cloud becomes a given, IT leaders must navigate the transition and advocate for management tools or architectures that allow them to realize the benefits they seek. Download this report to explore the issues and how to best leverage the cloud moving forward.
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of November 6, 2016. We'll be talking with the InformationWeek.com editors and correspondents who brought you the top stories of the week to get the "story behind the story."
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll