10 ways to get longer battery life (and lifespan) on your phone

Let’s face it – we all spend a lot of time on our phones these days. So, it’s no surprise that we are all on the lookout for ways to get long battery life on our phones. No one wants the frustration of having the battery die when there’s nowhere to charge your phone, not to mention the hassle and expense of replacing the battery – or even the phone – when it will no longer holds a charge.
by Alyssa Schmitt
Smiling bearded man takes selfie with his dog
Don’t miss out on the perfect selfie because your phone battery dies!

Never fear: mail.com has 10 tips to help you extend battery life on your iPhone or Android smartphone. Today we’ll look how you can extend your phone’s battery life, in other words how long you can use it before it needs to be recharged; and battery lifespan, meaning how long your phone battery lasts before it needs to be replaced.
  1. Update to the latest version of iOS or Android
  2. Turn off push notifications
  3. Limit location tracking
  4. Avoid extreme temperatures
  5. Look at app battery consumption
  6. Activate your phone’s power-saving mode
  7. Wi-Fi or no Wi-Fi?
  8. Turn on your lock screen
  9. Screen brightness and dark mode
  10. Optimize your charging

 1. Keep your phone’s operating system up to date

Always install operating updates on your phone. In addition to security fixes and bug patches, updates may include new ways to improve power management and battery performance. Generally speaking, it’s best to set up automatic updates on your phone.
Here’s where to check for automatic updates:
  • Android phone (may vary by model): Settings > System update > Download and install
  • iPhone:  Settings > General > Software Update > Automatic Updates. Make sure that the toggles for Download iOS Updates and Install iOS Updates are on and green.

 2. Turn off push notifications

When you have your smartphone set up to send you push notifications – that is, to actively notify you with a sound or pop-up if there is breaking news, new emails, etc. – your phone has to connect to the internet regularly and check with the company’s servers for updates. This consumes some battery power each time. Even if you decide you’d still like to receive certain push notifications, e.g. for your emails, you can still disable them for less important apps.
Here's where to disable push notifications:
  • Android phone (may vary by model): SettingsNotifications
  • iPhoneSettings > Notifications

3. Be selective with location services

Location services are another feature that consume battery power as your phone uses GPS and communicates with external computers. You may want to turn off location services for some apps entirely and set others so that the app is tracking your location only when you’re using it and not all the time.
How to adjust your location services settings:
  • Android phone (may vary by model): Settings > Location. You can toggle on all location tracking from here or tap App permissions to adjust individual apps.
  • iPhone: Settings > Privacy & Security > Location Services. You can turn off location services entirely here by toggling off the service or tap on the individual apps listed below to adjust individual permission settings.

4. Avoid extreme temperatures

If the temperature drops below 15°F or shoots above 95°F, not only might you be feeling a bit uncomfortable, but it can shorten the battery life of your smartphone. And in the long run, extreme temperatures can also shorten its lifespan. So don’t leave your phone exposed to the elements – keep it in the shade in the summer and in a warm pocket in the winter.

5. Check the background activity of your apps

The amount of power used by each app will vary, but games are often the biggest culprits. You can check the battery settings of your smartphone to see how much of the total power consumption is accounted for by each app. If there are any battery-guzzling apps you no longer need, you can uninstall them. (Warning: this may force you to confront your Solitaire habit!)

You can also look at the background activity of each app to check whether or not the app used any battery while you were not actively using it. For example, if you have ‘background app refresh’ activated for a social media app, it will automatically fetch information to update your feed even when you not looking at the app. To improve battery life, you can deactivate this background app refreshing. Bonus: Turning off automatic app refreshing or at least limiting it to when you are connected to Wi-Fi will also cut down on your mobile data use!

How to check battery use and background refresh by your apps

  • Android phone (may vary by model): If you’d like to restrict background refresh for all apps, go to Settings > Network & internet > Data saver and activate Use data saver. To customize by app, go to Settings > Network & Internet > Mobile network > App data usage and select whichever app you wish to change the settings for.
  • iPhone: Go to Settings > Battery to check the battery usage of your iPhone apps. If you’d like to turn off background app refreshing, go to Settings > General > Background App Refresh and select Off.

 6. Use your phone’s power-saving mode

Whether you know you are going to be running errands all day without a chance to charge your phone or you suddenly notice your battery is running low, an immediate battery-saving solution is to activate your phone’s power-saving mode. This is called Low Power Mode on an iPhone and Power Saver Mode or Battery Saver on an Android phone. Turning it on disables power-hungry features like the ‘background app refresh’ we talked about above. Don’t worry – key functions like phone calls and sending or receiving emails and texts will not be affected.
Phones running low on battery power will sometimes switch to power-saving mode automatically at 20 percent remaining power, or else prompt you to turn it on. You can also activate it manually at any time.
Where to find power-saving mode on your phone:
  • Android phone (may vary by model): Settings > Battery and device care > Battery > Power mode
  • iPhone: Settings > Battery > Low Power Mode. You can also turn Low Power Mode on and off in your Control Center.

7. Be selective with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS

You may have heard conflicting advice about Wi-Fi and battery usage. That’s because activating Wi-Fi can be good or bad for battery life, depending on where you are. If you are out and about, you can save battery by activating Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS only when you really need them. Otherwise, your device will constantly scan for available networks and devices or track your location with GPS, which can drain your battery. However, if you are not moving around and your location offers Wi-Fi, a strong Wi‑Fi connection uses less power than a cellular network — so if you trust the network, Wi-Fi is the better, battery-saving bet.

8. Don’t keep your display on too long

Your smartphone automatically dims or locks the screen if it detects inactivity. One simple but effective way to cut battery use is to shorten the period before this function is triggered. Reducing your display timeout to 30 seconds is ideal for reducing battery usage. And since you probably have to enter a PIN or use facial or fingerprint recognition to “wake up” your phone, this is also a good way to boost your security.
Where to change the default inactivity timeout on your phone:
  • Android phone (may vary by model): Settings > Display > Screen timeout
  • iPhoneSettings > Display & Brightness > Auto-Lock

9. Dim your phone’s screen

Reducing your screen brightness to at least 50 percent is a great way to improve battery life. On newer models, you can either set screen brightness manually or have it automatically adjust to the lighting conditions in your current surroundings – brightening the display in a darkened room, for example.
How to manually turn down the brightness of your screen:
  • Android phone (may vary by model): Swipe down twice from the top of your screen. You should now see a sun icon on a bar at the bottom. Manually adjust the brightness of your phone by dragging your finger along this line.
  • iPhone: Swipe down from the top right corner of your display to open your Control Center. Locate the sun icon within a thick brightness bar. Put your finger on the line between light and dark and drag it to adjust the brightness.
Pro tip: Does dark mode save battery?

Rather like the Wi-Fi-and-battery-life debate, you may have heard different stories about whether or not dark mode can save battery on your smartphone. It turns out that the answer here is also “it depends.” In dark mode, apps are displayed in a dark-colored screen. On the OLED screen of a modern smartphone, the black pixels don’t use power, so you might expect significantly lower battery use in dark mode. However, a 2021 study by Purdue University showed that dark mode may not increase a phone’s battery life that much. Thanks to the auto-brightness settings described above, phone brightness levels are often kept at around 30 to 40 percent in normal indoor conditions. At this level of brightness, dark mode only gave a power saving of 3 to 9 percent. However, if the phone is at full brightness, the study found that switching from light mode to dark mode can save as much as 47 percent battery power. So if you typically keep your display bright, dark mode can still be a significant battery-saving hack for you.

10. Battery lifespan and charging habits

The hints above might be great for giving your smartphone its best battery life, but will they help extend the longevity, i.e. increase the lifespan, of your battery? A smartphone battery is designed to retain its original capacity for a certain number of charging cycles. For example, according to Apple an iPhone battery will retain at least 80 percent of its original capacity for 500 complete charging cycles. So, it makes sense that if you can charge your smartphone less frequently by applying the tricks above, you will be able to achieve a long-lasting battery on your phone.
And here’s more good news: There are some charging tricks that can also extend the lifespan of your smartphone’s lithium-ion battery:
  1.  Avoid completely discharging and recharging the battery. Keep your phone’s battery charge level constantly above 20 percent – never let the charge drop to zero before recharging. On a similar note, you don’t need to regularly charge you smartphone battery to 100 percent – 80 percent is enough. This is because a full charge from zero to 100 percent subjects the electrodes of a lithium-ion battery to extreme stress, which can shorten the lifespan of the battery.
  2. Use your phone`s optimized charging feature. This is a function found on newer phones which can slow down the charging of your smartphone and stop it when at full health. If you have an iPhone running iOS 13 or higher, for example, you can activate the Optimized battery charging function in the settings. Your phone then “learns” from your habits and delays the charging process at times you usually keep your phone plugged in (like overnight) so your charge stays below 80 percent for longer. For Android phones, the availability and functions of optimized charging will depend on the model and manufacturer.
  3. Charge your phone in short spurts. Charging your phone for short periods multiple times a day is actually good for the health of lithium-ion batteries. The goal should be to charge by 10 percent here, 15 percent there, as needed, always keeping the phone at above a 20 percent charge. Obviously, this is not something you can do while you’re on a trip, but you can consider it for weekends or days when you’re working from home.
 We hope these simple tricks help you have a longer lasting battery on your phone! And if you still don't have a mail.com account, you can create your free email address here.
Images: 1&1/ GettyImages

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