Regardless of the fact that the standby time of most modern mobiles runs into days, there has come a point in all our lives where our phone’s battery meter is flashing as we need to make a very important call – will it have the juice to do it, or will it cut out just as you say ‘hello’? This needn’t be a regular occurrence though, as there several ways to improve the length of time your battery lasts and, because we like you, we’re going to share them.
To work, your mobile phone depends on its battery, in turn making you depend on your mobile phone’s battery, so it makes sense to take look after it. So before going into detail about making it last, let’s look at the basics of battery care. Most mobile phones use one of the following battery types:
1. Nickel Cadmium or NiCd.
2. Nickel Metal Hydride or NiMh.
3. Lithium Ion or Li-Ion.
Each of these batteries should be treated a different way when charging, but the first charge after you have unboxed your new phone is the same and, arguably, the most important. Even though you want to use your phone, you should resist temptation and charge it first for around 12 hours or overnight to ensure the battery is at its peak. Then, if you are really conscientious, do the same for the second charge too. Oh, and ignore the fact the phone will say it’s charged after a couple of hours, as it will continue to trickle charge until you unplug it. Once you have done this, you can begin a normal charging routine depending on your battery type.
If you have a NiCd battery, it should be discharged (when the phone switches itself off) every other charge cycle before it’s recharged; so top it up once, then do it properly. For a NiMh your can top it up a few more times between charges, so perhaps aim for a full discharge/charge cycle once a week. Li-Ion batteries shouldn’t really be totally discharged at all; instead they can be topped up when low, with a full cycle every month. Getting into a charging routine with your battery will make it last longer for longer and while it may sound a complete pain, as with any routine once you start doing it, it’ll become second nature.
So, now that you and your battery understand each other completely, you’re ready for the next stage in your relationship together! Here are twelve ways to get the most out of your charge:
Tip 1: Turn Your Phone Off.
It may sound obvious, but a lot of people leave their phone switched on over night and either never receive a call or have any intention of answering it if they get one! If this is you, and you don’t need to have the phone on at night then don’t, this will extend the standby of your phone considerably and in some cases, actually do the phone some good, as some models need downtime to clear memory and perform other shutdown tasks.
Tip 2: Display Backlights and Brightness.
All phones have a backlight to illuminate the display, which while essential, doesn’t have to be as bright as the sun. Check your phone manual to see if your can change the length of time the backlight stays on for, or change the level of illumination, as shortening the time and dropping the brightness several notches will be beneficial to your battery life.
Tip 3: Ringtones and Vibration.
Most phones have definable profiles which allow you to change how your phone operates according to your situation one part being the way your phone alerts you to a call. The simplest is to set it to Normal and let it ring and vibrate away regardless, but as is often the case, the simplest route is not the best, as loud ringtones and the vibrate feature also consume your battery at a higher rate. So, if the phone is not in your pocket, turn the vibrate off, if you can see the phone, turn the ring down to the lowest volume or even off completely; just set-up and use different profiles to your own preference!
Tip 4: 3G.
While 3G offers excellent connectivity speeds, it’s a power-hungry little beast too, so if you don’t need 3G enabled all the time and your phone gives you the option, just switch to GSM 2G. This alone can add another 50% to your phone’s standby time!
Tip 5: Wi-Fi, GPRS and Bluetooth.
If your phone can connect to a Wi-Fi network, it may also have the option to continually search for one to connect to. If it has, ensure that it’s switched off. The same goes for Bluetooth, which can be set to search for active devices all the time. By having both these features inactive until you need them will extend your battery’s life. Having GPRS active all the time also adds further strain to the battery, so if you can disconnect each time you finish, you will be rewarded with some more standby.
Tip 6: Multi-tasking.
You’ve been listening to music, playing a game or watching a video on your phone and a call comes in. At the end you push the Call End button and go off and do other things, while any previous running applications continue happily in the background, tucking into your battery’s precious power. No longer purely applicable to smartphones, some standard phones can have several applications running at the same time too, so always remember to close down functions you are no longer using.
Tip 7: Animations and Screensavers.
Lovely as they may be, anything that does stuff when you’re not using the phone will eat the battery at a faster rate than doing nothing at all. So, you may love your LG Prada’s fish darting about the screen, but if you want your battery to last longer; he’s got to go.
Tip 8: Battery Saver.
Some phones have a Battery Saver or Power Save option hidden in their menu system, which when activated, shuts down any non-essential features after a preset amount of time has elapsed since the phone was last used. With this turned on, it may also change the backlight and brightness too, so if you can’t find any individual adjustments for those features, but can find a Battery Saver feature, give it a try. On older phones a battery save option could also mean that during a call you would lose the duplex function, but this shouldn’t be the case today.
Tip 9: Signal.
Although largely out of the individual user’s control, your phones signal strength greatly affects standby time. If your phone is out of service, or has a very weak or intermittent signal, it’s forever trying to establish a new or better one, meaning it’s using lots more power than if the signal is at full strength. One option is to switch off your phone when you know there is no reception, but if the signal at your home is bad and the phone needs to be active, consider purchasing a signal booster box to give it a helping hand. Not only will your battery thank you, but everyone who calls will too!
Tip 10: Do nothing.
The most effective way to make your battery last longest is to quite simply leave it alone. Accept and make calls, but keep them short, send SMS messages, but not MMS and don’t play games, take pictures, listen to music or radio, browse the Internet, download mail or use GPS to find your way. Harsh, we know, and obviously not very practical but if you want to be master of your phones battery, it’ll take dedication and a strong will.
Tip 11: A Spare Battery.
A spare battery can be helpful and will certainly overcome the dying phone/important call problem. Just remember, batteries don’t like to sit about and do nothing, and a partially discharged battery which isn’t used for months will be next to useless when it’s finally called into duty, so try to alternate between your batteries, ensuring they’re both used regularly.
Tip 12: Dead Batteries.
If you have applied all of the above tips to extend the standby time of your battery and still struggle to get anything approaching what the manual says you should get, then you may have to face the fact your battery is dead or dying. Modern phone batteries, when treated well, should last around two years before they require replacement, but if they have been abused, exposed to high-levels of heat or if it’s a Li-Ion, totally discharged, their lives may be cut short.
By following as many of these tips as possible, you, you’re phone and its battery will have a long and happy relationship together and no-one need hear ‘I’ll have to call you back, my phone is nearly out of batt…<click> bzzzzzz.’ ever again!