Work & Career
8 Things that Are Killing Your Smartphone Battery—and How to Fix Them
From the temperature outside to the number of apps you have running, these are the things technology pros say are sucking up your battery power like crazy.
You have bad service
We all know the dead zones or places with spotty reception at home or on our commute. While not being able to check how many double-taps your latest Insta got is annoying, it’s also draining your battery by the second. Here’s why: Your smartypants phone is working overtime to reconnect you. “It’s common for cell phones in bad reception areas to use more power in an attempt to make a better connection with a cellphone tower,” software engineer, entrepreneur, and former U.S. army electronic warfare specialist Kyle Logue explains. “While your phone is hanging around in your pocket, it’s constantly sending and receiving signals from nearby towers. In a way, it’s asking the nearby towers ‘Can you hear me?’ and if the tower can’t, the cell phone will try to send the message again with increased power.” To preserve your battery when you’re in no-text-possible area, switch your phone to airplane mode and try to connect to free WiFi in the area instead. Use these tech tricks to save data and lower your cell phone bill.
You have too many applications that send you alerts
If you have an iPhone 6 or higher, scroll up from the bottom on your lock screen and it’ll show your most recent notifications. We bet you’ll see everything from your mom’s comment on your Facebook picture to an update from CNN on the latest breaking news. Most apps—unless you specifically opt-out—will send you push notifications that often aren’t necessary. “Each time you install a new application and enable push notifications, you are allowing that application to periodically check to see if there is a new notification to show to you on your home screen,” Logue says. “This service, when multiplied by more than 100 applications, can quickly drain someone’s phone battery because of the constant requests being made.” Try going to Settings > Notifications; then tweaking the apps that can send you alerts. We bet you don’t need Yelp reminding you to rate your latest restaurant reservation, right? Check out the smart tricks for your cell phone that everyone should know.
Your phone is old
Though you might feel like you’re being tricked into constantly spending more money (and yep, you’re probably right) with new models and updates releasing every six months, an outdated phone likely has an unhealthy battery. “As cell phones continue to follow the trend of non-replaceable batteries, we learn that companies like Apple are trying to find ways to encourage consumers to buy a new device. Batteries are no longer built like the indestructible Nokia Bricks of the past,” Logue says. “A quick-dying battery could simply mean that it’s time to replace your phone because the battery is just no good.” Here’s how to salvage a wet cell phone.
Your Bluetooth is always on
Quick: Go to Settings on your smartphone and do a quick search for “Bluetooth.” Most devices are designed to have this automatically turned on, even if you don’t need it frequently. However, wireless telecom career and business strategist Mike McRitchie says having that level turned on puts pressure on your battery. “Having GPS and Bluetooth turned on makes your phone battery work harder because that is an active process that requires power. Don’t need it? Shut it off,” he suggests.
You make a lot of phone calls
If your job requires you to make cold calls using your personal or work phone, you might notice how quickly that 100 percent falls the more times you dial out. McRitchie says that unlike texting, calling can cause your battery to reach its breaking point faster. “Calling uses quite a bit of power. It uses much more of the available network’s capacity and also has to power up the sound element that is not in play with texting or emailing,” he says. “If you can text or email, you’ll save your battery.” Though voice-to-voice is sometimes required and can get your message across faster, if you’re in a bind and need to reserve what juice you have left, let it go to voicemail. Find out how to make your cell phone totally secure.
You take a lot of photos or videos
If you’re traveling, have a newborn or a pet, or feel the need to capture each and every moment of your day, you might notice that it’s not just your phone storage that gets overworked. Your battery can also be affected. “Taking pictures and especially video require extra power to process the camera’s focus functions and record the images and sounds,” McRitchie says. “Be very careful with video because that can shrink the available battery very rapidly when compared with even the camera.” Put your phone on airplane mode so it’s not hunting for service but instead, working on getting the angle of the sunset focused or capturing your sweet babe’s first steps. These are the 11 phone battery myths you need to stop believing.
You use too many apps with GEO-locators
When you’re trying to get from point A to point B and you have no idea where you are (been there, got lost here), using your smartphone GPS might be essential. But several apps—from Tinder and Yelp to Facebook and countless others—could be draining your battery because you’ve enabled “location finding” without knowing. Just like you cut down your push notifications, do the same with your “location enabled” apps under “Settings.” This will cause those apps to only locate you when you’re using them, according to Brice, which will be a big change in your battery usage. If you must use your GPS, be prepared. “Bring a backup power source or use your car charger to keep your phone charged, such as when you’re using the mapping app for driving directions. Or when driving, download ahead of time to use the map offline,” McRichie says. Here’s what the GPS and other convenience apps are doing to your brain.
It’s too hot or too cold where you are
Texting gloves were no doubt a game-changing invention, allowing those of us in frigid temps to communicate without running the risk of hypothermia, but the outside air might pose a whole new threat to your beloved technology. According to McRitchie, cold affects your phone’s battery so much that one of his co-workers actually uses a hand warmer to wrap around her device while she’s skiing. The cold can make your camera work harder too. But before you look into moving to a warmer climate to keep your phone happy, August Brice, CEO of Safer Tech, says to also watch out for warmer conditions. If you’re overheating or have your phone nestled in your down feather jacket, the added warmth could kill the battery, too. Moral of the story? Your phone is a lot like Goldilocks: Conditions need to be juuuuust right. Try these other 10 secrets to improving your phone’s battery life.