How did you feel the last time your smartphone charge hit zero percent? It was probably concerning, and if you didn’t have access to a charger or way to get your phone back online, then it can be a tough time for you. It can be anxiety-inducing, especially if you are waiting for a call or have another important reason to regularly be on your phone. It just makes us remember how reliant we are on these devices.
You naturally want to make sure that never happens, which is why you’re reading this. Then without further wait, here is everything you can do to make sure that the battery icon never hits zero again:
Settings and Behaviors
Depending on the settings you have, the apps you use, and how you use your phone, your charge could last all day or just a few hours. It isn’t a constant drain, and there may be periods of heavy use and periods of light battery usage. Here’s how to use that to your advantage and avoid battery-draining behaviors when possible:
- The easiest and most obvious thing you can do is turn your brightness setting down or turn down your default brightness setting. A bright screen will be the quickest drain on your battery, especially if you are using the phone constantly. Naturally do not strain your eyes or blind yourself trying to reduce battery usage, but it can be helpful anyhow if you are planning on going to bed soon or you are in a dark enough area anyhow.
- There will likely be options to automatically change and set the brightness depending on conditions around you. We recommend experimenting with these settings and finding ones that both work for you and save energy.
- What are your current phone background and lock screen? What wallpapers do you use? If they’re filled with white or bright colors, that can drain your battery life. On some smartphones, you can also change to a general “dark theme” on your phone and other devices. Not only will this save battery, but it will be easier on the eyes when you are using your phone later at night or in darker places.
- On a similar note, there are a fair number of major apps that have their own dark themes, and we recommend turning them on if they fit well for your schedule and preferences. You can usually find it on the settings page of the app, though if you can’t find it a quick search will tell you where to go. Consider it for your most-used app so you can extend the battery life.
- Note that there are usually options to automatically have dark mode come on during the nighttime, in case having it on in daylight is less than ideal for you.
- If you want to save more screen time, you can make it so that your phone’s screen turns back off after a shorter period of non-use. It might be annoying until you get a good middle ground, but you will likely save minutes on on-time each day, making your battery last longer.
- Much like the screen, the sounds and vibrations coming from your phone can also use power. If they annoy you anyway, you now have a perfect excuse to go in and turn them off. Alternatively, you can turn them down just a little and see if that works for you.
- You may want to disconnect BlueTooth devices you are not using. Not only may it help prevent a mix-up such as wondering where your sound is going, but you can also perhaps use a bit less energy from your phone as well.
- One thing you can do with many modern phones is to check which apps are using the most battery. With this information, you can turn them off in the background, restrict their usage, or even delete and replace them if there is a better alternative. There are usually a range of settings and options you can use to monitor and control this, though the exact location and names can vary from phone to phone.
- To reduce the battery usage on some apps, you may want to do things such as pre-download maps and albums you plan on using. It can take up storage space, but that’s what the space is for, anyway!
- Do you use a voice assistant on your phone that uses active listening? You should know that it uses up the battery for just being on. If you aren’t using it or do not consider it worth it, you should turn active listening off. It is not the same thing as turning off the virtual assistant.
- Internet usage uses up your battery, especially if that connection is unstable. If you tether your phone to a hotspot you might be draining the battery later on as it tries to find a connection. Additionally, using GPS constantly or constantly streaming music or video on your phone can result in increased power usage. We recommend that you consider when and how you use the internet. Use it if you need to of course (that’s what the smartphone is for), but those massive downloads might be best done at home.
- There will also likely be battery optimization options on your phone, or power saver modes. Learn what they do on your phone and see if you want to use them more. They might not be perfect for every scenario, but they can be great when you aren’t planning on using your phone much anyway.
- It may be helpful to update your smartphone’s OS if that’s possible and make sure that all your apps are similarly updated. An unoptimized phone is a phone that may use more battery, and you should update for security and usage reasons anyway. It often happens automatically or you will get reminders. Just check everyone once in a while.
- Note that individual apps or phones might have additional settings and options that can improve battery life. You may want to see if there are such settings in the apps you use most. Not only might you find ways to save battery life, but you can also find out more about the apps, fine-tune your privacy settings, and more. We recommend it even if you don’t want to fine-tune power savings that much.
- Take note of adaptive or automatic power-saving features on your device. Such an option means that the phone might go into power-saving mode when you aren’t using it, or go into it at a higher battery life than the usual ten or 15 percent.
- Do note that power-saving modes do have some disadvantages. You might take longer to get messages, and the phone might be slower or less bright. There is a tradeoff to everything.
Practical Options and Tips
There are some things about the phone itself and your location that can affect both the charging rate and the discharge rate. Here are some things you should do and some others you should avoid when charging and generally taking care of the phone:
- Where you are and how strong the signal is in your area can matter a lot to how much charge you are using. To put it simply, when your phone is looking for a signal and cannot find one, it tries harder. When it tries harder, it uses more energy until it can get a signal. This can use a massive amount of energy. If you ever wonder why your phone’s battery goes and loses half its charge when you go on a hike in the woods, this is why.
- How do you combat this? Sometimes the only winning move is not to play. That means you might want to use airplane mode to cut off the attempts to connect. You might not be able to get calls or signals, but you can turn airplane mode off until then.
- Similarly, if your phone is searching for WiFi but there is none around, you’ll be eating up a fair bit of energy. If you know you won’t be relying on WiFi, turn WiFi off on your phone ahead of time to save battery.
- Speaking of airplane mode, airplane mode is a great way to save battery life. You won’t be able to use many apps or send or receive messages, but sometimes you practically wouldn’t be able to anyway. If you absolutely, positively do not want to be bothered in the middle of the night when you’re sleeping, turn on airplane mode and save battery overnight (though ideally, you’re charging your phone then anyhow).
- If you have an option to turn on or off just location services, that can be a middle alternative to full-on airplane mode. Perhaps you don’t need those recommendations at the moment. You can always turn location services back on later.
- As for WiFi, if you need to be connected to the internet, using a WiFi connection usually uses less battery than a mobile data connection these days.
- That being said, do be wary of public networks and their potential security risks. Don’t do anything too sensitive or private over a public network. A bit of battery life is not worth the risk of identity theft.
- While you might think that it is a good idea to keep your battery charged to the maximum as much as possible, this isn’t always recommended. Instead, we recommend that you let your battery fall to five to 15 percent every once in a while and charge it fully. This will help maintain the maximum charge of the battery.
- This is obvious, but how often you use the phone dictates how long the battery will last. If you need your phone to last longer without a charge, then you might need to consider using it less on top of the other tips here.
- Something you should do when you get the chance is taking note of how long it takes for your battery to run out on its own. How long could it survive just hanging around in a bag or pocket? How does this compare to what was advertised at the first release?
- There might also be an estimate of how long your phone will last at current usage in your phone’s settings or battery life panel. Taking note of that can help you plan for the future and whether you need to top off a charge or bring a charging method along with you on your trip or errands.
- Make sure your phone doesn’t overheat! Not only can such problems damage your phone and make it not work, but they can make your phone rapidly discharge. Keeping it wrapped up in the covers is a bad idea, as is putting it in an extremely hot environment. It’s designed to handle most of the environments you are in, but you can expect that your phone will lose charge faster in hot places.
- Similarly, extremely cold environments do not do well for your smartphone battery either. While your phone might be naturally creating some heat through usage, if it gets too cold it might shut down prematurely, even if your phone says it’s at a decent charge.
- In some cases, there might not be much you can do. Some phones simply will not last as long after a while, and the program and iOS updates will use more power and processing power than previous versions. There is a noted issue with iPhones, and in many cases, app developers are not thinking about power consumption first when designing apps.
Battery life is not much of an issue but if you need your phone to charge faster? Here are a few tips:
- If you are choosing to charge your phone via a USB cable connection to a laptop or other device, make sure that the device is on. A desktop computer might provide a slight charge, but your laptop or other devices if not turned on might not charge the phone much, if at all. This could lead to you thinking that your phone is charging while it’s losing power. Also, note that some devices might charge your phone faster than others. Overall, a direct connection to an outlet via an adapter is the fastest charging method.
- Making the phone use less power while it's charging means that it will charge faster. That means if you’re really in a rush to charge it, turn on airplane mode and don’t use it. Some might say that you can cut the charging time in half this way, but we think this is an exaggeration or a limited set of cases. Still, you will see a noticeable difference in charging time.
- Some phones and batteries may simply charge faster than others. If this is an extreme concern for you, look into it before buying your next phone.
- If the heat is keeping your phone from charging quickly, we recommend that you keep it out of the sunlight, temporarily remove the case, and turn off apps that are using a lot of processing power.
- Depending on your brand of phone, there might be a higher-powered charger available. Look up options to see if there is an official charger that does more than your current one.
- Note that you should avoid third-party chargers for this purpose. You don’t want to damage your phone this way.
- While wireless charging pads and stations can be an amazing tool in your charging arsenal, they aren’t the fastest method available. We recommend them more for passive charging when you are at your desk or in similar situations.
Backup and Replacement Options
Ok, but what if you might be away for some time? What if your max charge isn’t what it used to be? What do you do then? In such cases, you will want to try and look at the battery, charging equipment, and additional options. You aren’t stuck with just a battery and a prayer. There are things you can do or get to help out with this, and here are the main ones:
- If you’re out a lot and aren’t sure when you’ll next be able to charge or plugin, we recommend having a charge pack on hand. They are not terribly expensive and you can make it a habit to top them off whenever you go out with one. You likely won’t need more than one and they can be a little bulky depending on what bag you might have, but you will be able to last much longer.
- And as with many products, you get what you pay for. You can get one dedicated for your smartphone, a larger brick that works as a general charging station, or even something that can jumpstart your car!
- Similarly, if you don’t carry one on you, a charging cable or USB cable (whatever is appropriate for your phone) is something you should have with you as well, at least in your car. However, we strongly recommend that you use the cable or adapter that either came with your phone or one that is the same model, even if it costs a few dollars more. You will get a better charge rate and a longer lasting battery for your trouble.
- We especially recommend a direct connection to your car. While wireless options exist for a digital connection, why not charge as well? Additionally, the connection will be faster and clearer whether you’re on a call, need GPS instructions, or want to play your favorite music.
- If your phone lasts long enough, even the best precautionary measures and care will not change the fact that you will need to replace your battery. While there are ways to do this yourself for some models unless you are skilled with smartphone hardware you may want to take it into a shop for it. It will cost you some money if you don’t have an active warranty or plan that is relevant, likely $50-$100.
- Outside of the battery being replaced, one of the most common issues that people have is a problem with the charging port. Perhaps it has some sort of dust or blockage in it. Perhaps it was damaged in a fall or something scraped it. Possibly your phone has some years on it and many uses have led to the port being worn away to the point where performance is affected. If charging speed is slow or charging is intermittent despite
- You can have your charging port repaired or more likely replaced. It can cost a little bit, but it is a relatively simple process for a repair shop and it is certainly less than the cost of replacing an otherwise perfectly good phone.
- In rare cases, you might need to have your phone repaired or replaced for another reason. There might be an issue with the processor or an overheating issue. There are many components in a phone, and we can’t go over all the potential problems. Though if you get the feeling that something is wrong, then you should look into it further and potentially take it to a repair shop.
- After you get your phone diagnosed, it will be up to you as to whether it’s worth it to get the phone repaired or replaced, or whether you think the issues mentioned will help the battery life. Do make sure you are working with a reputable repair shop and consider the costs carefully. You should be able to look up a range of what it should cost for that type of repair online. Don’t let yourself get pressured.
Battery technology is not perfect yet, which means we need to watch how we use our phones, whether are batteries are degrading, and a few other things. We hope that you got some useful information out of this piece and that you will always have something prepared in case of an emergency. Keep charging, keep enjoying your phone, and put this problem in the past.