By Reid Goldsborough
You need your smartphone. According to a new survey by ReportLinker, 75 percent of Americans keep their smartphones active all day and night and 46 percent check their phones as soon as they wake up.
To use your phone, you need it to be charged. There's little more mundane or important with an iPhone, Android, or other smartphone than figuring out ways to keep its battery charged as long as you need it.
With today's smartphones and other portable devices, it's a misconception that you should always let a battery drain completely before recharging for maximum battery life. This was true with nickel-cadmium batteries, but the lithium-ion batteries of today’s devices don't need this.
What you should do is drain the battery periodically. Advice differs, from once a month to once a year. Just run your smartphone — watch a YouTube video, for instance — until it shuts itself off. Then recharge it as usual.
Leaving your smartphone plugged in won't overcharge it. Most devices are designed to stop charging once the battery is fully charged.
All rechargeable batteries have a finite life before they have to be replaced. Lithium-ion batteries can be recharged about 500 times before their maximum charge begins to decline. You'll notice this when you begin having to recharge sooner and sooner. Replacing the battery can cost as little as $10 if you do it yourself or about $80 if you use a repair shop.
Other tips to extend your battery charge include:
- Keep your software up-to-date to gain access to the latest operating system, which will include tricks to conserve battery power.
- Avoid extreme temperatures. The ideal range is 62 to 72 degrees F, though devices generally can be used safely in temperatures from 32 to 95 degrees. Heat above 95 degrees can be outright harmful, so avoid car trunks in summer.
- Turn down your screen brightness — experiment with 50 percent — and set it to black and white if this is an option. Of course, brightness and color can be useful.
- Turn off wireless connections such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi if you're not using them.
- Be mindful of the number of apps you have, especially battery-hogging ones such as Facebook and Instagram. The iPhone's iOS operating system lets you see which apps use the most juice. Press Settings then Battery and wait for Battery Usage to load. You might be better off accessing some services through a web browser such as Safari or Google Chrome rather than through a specialized app.
- Turn off background data use with apps that don't need to be continually downloading data. Press Settings, General, and Background App Refresh. Android's Marshmallow operating system has its built-in Doze feature that conserves power by pausing resource-draining processes when you're not actively using your phone. There also are optional Android apps designed to automate the process of conserving power. Greenify, Go Battery Saver & Power Widget, and Avast Battery Saver are three recommended ones.
- Fetch new email manually. Auto-fetching email just drains battery power. With an iPhone, press Settings, Mail, and Accounts and turn off Fetch New Data.
- Selectively disable location services and notifications. Not every app has to know where you are. With an iPhone, press Settings, Privacy, and Location Services. To turn off app notifications, press Settings and Notifications then scroll through.
— Reid Goldsborough is a syndicated columnist and author of the book Straight Talk About the Information Superhighway. He can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org or reidgold.com.