Cell phones have become so much a part of our lives that nomophobia — cell phone separation anxiety — often strikes if we forget to bring our cell phone. It can also strike if our cell phone battery dies. Suddenly, that glowing, chatty, chirping link to the wider world is but an expensive, inert plastic rectangle. It’s easy to blame battery technology, which is often far less advanced than many of the devices it powers, though the newest generation of smartphones is showing promise. A good example is the T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy S3’s powerful 2,100 mAh battery. But, ultimately the fault is not in the battery, but in ourselves. With a little knowledge and forethought, your cell phone battery need never fail you.
Helping Your Cell Phone Battery Stay Charged
You can do your best to leave your cell phone constantly charging at home, in the car or anywhere there’s an outlet. While this vigilance is very effective in keeping your phone’s battery charged up, it diminishes its use as a portable phone. There are ways to prolong battery charge without constantly tethering your phone to the electrical grid.
Your cell phone knows which of its features use the battery the most. Go to system settings, then battery, to see the major component users of energy and the time and battery charge remaining. The neediest energy user will be the heart of your phone, its operating system, followed by your display, voice calls, phone idle, Bluetooth, cell standby and Wi-Fi. Your CPU will be the largest power user. Usage will vary and is partially a function of data sent and data received, seen beneath “CPU Usage.” It’s your data, so you have some control over it. Is your GPS on? See system settings, then location. If you’re not using your cell phone to navigate, turn the GPS feature off. Otherwise, it will be constantly updating your location. Your location will still be available to 911 services personnel in case of emergency.
After CPU and data usage, the display screen is typically the largest user of your battery. Options for adjusting screen attributes are available through system settings and display. Here, you can adjust brightness and backlighting, select wallpaper and set screen sleep time. The faster your screen goes to sleep, the less power it needs. Stationary rather than live wallpapers draw the least power from your battery. Set brightness as low as feasible, or use the display’s power saver option to dim bright screens to extend battery time.
Minor but constant energy users are Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Turn off our cell phone’s Wi-Fi option when leaving home or any locale in which you typically use your phone’s Wi-Fi. Otherwise, your cell phone will keep faithfully searching for a Wi-Fi connection and often advise you when one’s found, usable or not. For Bluetooth, only turn it on when you’re using it.
So Many Apps, So Little Need
Rethink your apps. Do you really need all those colorful icons adorning your screen? Depending on their usage, apps can be silently leeching power as they constantly check location and weather, and search for and download updates. Some will even download advertisements, or invite other apps to join them. Carefully go through, and ruthlessly eliminate those you rarely use. And, in the future, before downloading a really neat app, no matter how many stars it has, carefully read all the permissions you’re granting it. Some are not only major privacy invaders, but major data hogs.
There are a number of solar charging devices available for cell phones, either as snap-on cases or integrated solar panels. But they’re not cheap. OK for emergencies, they’ll work only in direct sunlight and typically require 30 minutes to provide enough power just to start a dead phone. You can either leave your phone outside alone to charge, or hold it up to the sun.
Heat shortens battery life. Don’t leave your phone in direct sunlight or in a hot car. Disconnect it after it’s charged. Ideally, you should keep your battery in the fridge, which surely someone does. Buying an extra battery and rotating batteries in an external charger is a proven technique. Just remember to charge that battery after you swap it out.