Wednesday, 12 July 2017 18:49

Advice to keep your phone battery running longer pops up yet again

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The simplest advice is to just buy a battery pack that you keep charged and take with you everywhere so you can always charge your phone when needed.

Of course, that’s not the only advice. I just read an article at News.com.au, which quoted an article from its sister paper in the UK called The Sun, which had advice on how to extend the life of your phone’s battery.

1. The first piece of advice proffered up is to charge your phone in short bursts rather than all night long, which apparently stresses your phone.

Well, whatevs. I charge my phone when needed, and that includes at night. I like to use the Sleep Cycle app to track my sleep and wake me in the right cycle, and for the app to work properly it needs uninterrupted power.

So, advising me not to charge my phone in this case is no good, so this one is a maybe on the scale of usefulness.

Also, try telling the person with low battery at night not to plug their phone in. Sometimes some advice sounds better than it actually is.

That was a tip of its own, but for some reason, The Sun starts numbering its tips from the second tip. Weird.

2. Anyway, that second tip, numbered as the first, is to change the screen resolution of your phone.

This tip is only for a very small number of Androids – mostly on Samsung and Huawei phones, so for all you iPhone people, or users of most other Androids, this tip isn’t so useful.

That said, if you are using a modern, recent Samsung or Huawei, or other modern Android, you can go to your settings, then to the display option, and see if there’s an option to change the screen resolution.

If there is, you can change it form a higher resolution, such as 2560 x 1440 (known as WQHD on a Samsung S7 I’m looking at while typing this sentence) and you can lower it to FHD, which is 1920 x 1080, or even HD, which is 1280 x 720.

A lower resolution means less complex screens of information to display, which is supposed to deliver lower battery life

That said, most phones are advertised with their maximum specs, so purposefully changing this to be worse than what’s possible seems a shame, save for the fact it can save you a bit of juice.

If you have a compatible phone that can change resolutions, that is.

3. Then we get the advice to turn off GPS, which apparently you don’t need, as you can rely on phone towers and Wi-Fi hotspots to approximate your location instead.

Well sure, this can be useful, unless you make regular use of your map navigation facility. It also means you have to think about turning GPS on, and off.

On iPhones, many apps in location services can be set to track location only when the app is used.

On Androids, you can swipe down twice from the top of the screen, and you can manually turn location on or off – or change the settings so that location appears in the drop-down list.

It’s a useful tip for some.

Intertwined in this tip is turning your phone’s battery saving mode on. This will do things like switch off background apps and notifications, while on Samsung devices you can set this to turn your screen black and white, and limit functionality to phone calls, texting and Web browsing – or pretty much limit it how you like.

For me, I like to use my phone on its normal power, and only sometimes choose “low battery mode” when I get to 20% power (on my iPhone, at least).

That said, I also only have background app refresh turned on for the apps I really want it activated for in the settings.

Anyway, it’s a useful tip, but few people would truly run their phones in battery save mode all the time, even if that’s actually quite possible to do.

4. Then comes the advice that a hot phone 'will consume more power'.

The irony is that a hot phone normally occurs because you’ve been using it to play complex, powerful games, or have had the GPS on in the car with the screen on, and it has also been a hot day, all of which will drain your battery faster.

You’re advised to give playing games a rest and to let your phone cool down.

I don’t play many games, and rarely do any of the phones I use get hot, or rather, really hot. If so, I shut down all open apps, but on iPhones at least, this hasn’t been a big issue for me.

If my phone really got hot I’d be worried about it and would put it into the fridge to cool down quickly for a few minutes.

5. After this comes the advice to adjust your screen brightness to about three-quarters of full brightness, or approx 60 to 70%.

This is another one of those annoying tips, because your brightness setting is also usually set to “auto”, and because if you adjust your screen too low, it becomes more difficult to see.

I mean, people like brighter screens for a reason, but if your battery is being chewed through too quickly, then yes, turning down the brightness a notch or likely three or four should still keep it bright enough to read.

6. Here then comes a tip to shorten the screen timeout setting, down to 15 or 30 seconds.

This is yet another of those annoying tips that can be useless for some people because they’d rather their phones didn’t automatically go dim so quickly, especially if they’re reading articles online.

Not every phone has a feature to look at your eyes and keep the screen on, as many Samsung models are able to offer, and a screen going dark when you’re reading an article is no fun.

Even so, shortening the setting can save battery power, but if your phone turns off too fast, why suffer? Turn that screen timeout figure back to a higher number so your phone doesn’t keep going to sleep when you’d rather it didn’t

7. This next tip wants to offer good vibes, urging you to try turning off vibrating if your phone has a notification light.

Personally, I hate notification lights as they try pulling me back into the world on my smartphone, when I’d much rather visit the world of my smartphone on my own schedule.

If you feel the same way too, then turn those damn notification lights off for all the extra minor battery life improvements that will deliver.

Vibrations that come with notifications can be annoying too. I like to turn notifications appearing on screen for most apps off, and I don't let my phone beep at my either – only for calls and text messages, and maybe one or two apps extra, and that's it! No annoying endless bleeps and bloops from my phone for me.

Maybe when my phone turns into R2D2 will I allow bleeps and bloops, but honestly, I'd expect my R2 unit to just speak plain old English — or any language of my choice — and probably to my AirPods, so our conversations are private, not blasted to everyone to listen to.

As for the advice to turn your ringtone volume down low, well, that's up to you. In my experience, many people complain their phones don’t ring loudly enough!

I mean, why not suggest you turn off your phone altogether when you’re not using it, too? That’ll save a bucket load of battery life.

8. Tip 8 is to make sure unwanted or little used apps aren’t running in the background, sucking up battery life, 'even if you aren’t using them or signed in'.

Well, that’s good advice. Do an app audit, and if you haven’t used an app for a long time and realise you just don’t use it anymore, delete it!

Your Android phone, if modern, probably warns you about apps running in the background, and there are apps you can download to tell you about wayward battery life sucking apps if your version of Android isn’t version 7.x

You should also run Internet security and anti-malware apps on your Android phone, so you haven't got rogue apps with rogue adds sucking the life out of your green bot.

On an iPhone, as noted above, you can go into the settings, then General, then Background App Refresh, and turn off the apps that shouldn’t be running in background.

It’s not wise to turn them all off — I did that once, and then wondered why some apps weren’t working properly in the background, and suddenly did when I activated them in background app refresh.

In any case, there are probably dozens of apps you downloaded to your phone that you never use. Whether you’ve paid for them or they’re free, they’re in your list of downloaded apps, so you can easily get them again if needed — so delete with abandon, and lighten the load on your phone.

9. This next tip is the best of all. It’s simply to buy an external battery.

That’s what I do, as well as having a charger at my work desk, and a charger in the car, and following only the tips above that make sense to me.

My battery pack goes with me everywhere in my bag, and I rotate between a few that I’ve purchased over time, so I always have a fully charged battery pack with me.

If I am at a desk and am going to be listening to music or radio, then I like to plug in. if I am using Waze to keep an eye on speed limits and traffic reports, in addition to navigation when needed, then I like to be plugged in. And if I don't plug in, I have a battery to recharge with as needed.

It’s so useful to have it that you can find yourself charging your friend’s phones at times. I purchased a couple of “iWalk” battery packs (among others) that have a Lightning charger built-in, as well as a Micro USB charger, and also a USB port and can charge three devices at once thanks to its 10,000mAh battery.

You don’t have to have one so versatile, you can easily use one with a standard USB slot so you can plug in your charging cable and charge at will.

I also have a USB cable that has a USB-C plug a Micro USB plug and a Lightning plug, so I can charge any phone, anytime, anywhere as needed.

Another battery pack I purchased has Qi wireless charging built-in, so I can place an S6, S7 or S8 smartphone and charge without cables.

It came with a charger plate that plugs into the Lightning port, so I can even use it to charge an iPhone wirelessly as well, but I don’t bother with that as I need to unplug it when wanting to charge in the car, for example, when the phone is in its cradle.

The other advice in this section is to buy a phone case with a built-in battery, but as the article notes, this makes your phone bulkier.

I used to do that in the iPhone 4S days, but gave up long ago when battery packs became common and inexpensive.

Get a battery pack case if you want, but be prepared to carry a brick all day in your hand or pocket. Just keep the external battery in your bag and join it to your phone when and if needed.

10. The last tip is to buy a smartphone with 'a really big battery'.

Anyone who has purchased an iPhone 6, 6S or 7 Plus knows that the Plus model has fantastic battery life. Likewise, there are large screened Android models that generally also come with large battery capacities.

Even so, the large screens often suck up power, especially if you use your phone a lot, so after all that, and if you wish to use your phone the way it was intended to be used, rather than all of these “switch this and that off” limitations, do what I do.

Have a great external battery — or two or three — and keep them charged, so you always leave the house with a spare battery in your bag. Then you can charge as needed, especially if you do a lot of public transport.

Otherwise, have a charger and cable at work, have one in your car, and carry a battery pack, and battery woes will be a thing of the past.

And yes, if your phone has a built-in battery that you can’t replace, a battery pack is essential – and meanwhile, most people never had the discipline to buy a spare internal battery charger or keep those batteries charged.

That’s why many phones ditched internal but removable batteries.

Apple iPhone batteries can be inexpensively replaced ever few years if needed, and if you haven’t already purchased a brand new model by then.

That goes for Androids, too – you’re likely to replace your phone before you replace your battery.

If your Android is a Samsung, you can go to a Samsung store or Samsung kiosk, if there’s one near you, and virtually every mall has one or more shops that sell cases, and who also do just about any repair you want, usually at prices cheaper than manufacturer rates.

That said, do shop around, and remember that manufacturer approved repairers are supposed to use absolutely authentic parts, so keep all of that in mind.

And finally — if you want to forget all of the above — just get an external battery pack, and make sure you charge it (daily if needed, like you phone) and take it with you, along with a charging cable, and problem solved.

If you still have battery problems, then you’re probably using your phone too much.

Seek addiction counselling and buy a 3G flip phone from the supermarket and stick your SIM into that, and you can forget about Facebook, WhatsApp, games and apps altogether, while preserving calls and texts.

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