Five Ways to Make Your Cell Phone Battery Last Longer

We’ve come a long way from the Zack Morris “cellular telephone” to things like the Blackberry and iPhone. However, there is still universal room for improvement in the day-to-day lifespan of mobile device batteries. Don’t worry, we’ve got some tips on how to make the most of that little lightning bolt.

Every Friday, I’m compiling a list of five things that meet one criterion. “What is that criterion,” you ask? Well, it’s going to change every week and you’re just going to have to try and keep up.

This week…

Five Ways To Make Your Cell Phone Battery Last Longer

We’ve come a long way from the Zack Morris “cellular telephone” to things like the Blackberry and iPhone. However, there is still universal room for improvement in the day-to-day lifespan of mobile device batteries. Don’t worry, though — there are very manageable ways to take advantage of the flawed system and get the most out of the power afforded to the gizmo around which your entire world revolves.

5. Silence unnecessary sounds.

I think, for the most part, reasonable human beings are up to speed on this one and can clearly understand why it would affect battery life. However, there are a couple other reasons why this one is noteworthy.

Speaking strictly from a functional standpoint, there is no reason your phone’s buttons – whether they are on a touch screen, a traditional keypad, or a flip-open QWERTY keyboard – need to make an electronic sound every single time you press them. Texts don’t appear more clearly nor do phone calls connect faster if there’s a beep involved, every step of the way. Turn this option off.

On top of that, it’s just annoying to the people around you. I was sitting near a person in a movie theater, recently, and she was texting (before the previews began, mercifully) on a keyboard that had all sounds locked and loaded. The cacophony was not only annoying but sounded like she was reenacting a scene from War Games. Don’t be that person. Or I’ll write about how annoying and inconsiderate you are, online.

4. Write, don’t call.

I know that being “the person who texts all the time rather than making calls” can make you feel and look like a uber-nerdly teenager but if you engage in frequent calls (no matter how long they last), your cell phone battery will die relatively quickly – it’s a hurdle we just haven’t been able to completely clear, as of yet. A boatload of text messages will take some of the charge out of your phone, of course, but it will be some time before you’re looking for a charger.

Additionally, even if you rarely use the basic telephone function, it’s still worth getting to know your phone’s battery situation when it comes to calls. Let’s say you use text messaging 98% of the time — don’t fool yourself into thinking that a five-minute phone call won’t have an impact on the battery – it absolutely can. Look into these things so that you don’t accidentally kill your phone on a meaningless call, at an important time (i.e., don’t be the guy who says “my battery’s running low” and then continue to chat for another eight minutes).

3. Bad vibrations.

In conjunction with #4: if you convert your mobile personal communications arsenal largely to text messaging, you’re obviously going to get a lot more activity on your phone, each minute. Because of this and because you’re a person who understands the annoying nature of ringtones going off every 39 seconds, you’ll probably make the decision to turn your phone’s alert system to ‘Vibrate’, more often than not. Great. I do that, too. It’s very kind of us.

But it’s an accepted fact that the motor used to create this vibrating feeling is a huge drain on the phone’s battery and thus, in “power conservation crisis” mode, it must be disabled.

The drawback here, of course, is that you are undoubtedly going to find yourself in situations wherein you want your phone to be non-vibrating silent yet you also need to be made aware of any messages or calls, instantly. If this happens, then you just need to turn off all sounds and vibrations and merely check the phone every few minutes, for messages or missed call notifications. It’s a little more work for you but if you want your battery to last through that meeting, you’ll do it.

2. Knock out the Bluetooth.

I rarely use the Bluetooth connectivity feature available on my phone but that doesn’t stop it from running at all times, by default, after powering up (most new phones are the same way). Like an unruly child, the Bluetooth program(s) are going to start up without asking and run until you tell them to stop.

There are two good reasons to heed this piece of advice. First, the obvious: disabling an application that constantly hums along and sweeps the immediate area for devices with which it can connect will undoubtedly save you some electric juice. Secondly, many people are unaware that their Bluetooth connectivity is constantly on and that the continued operation of this program means nearby phones and/or laptops can potentially connect with their mobile devices.

In short: it’s not just an issue of power-saving but also a security and privacy risk, if you’re not paying attention.

1. Turn it off.

This may be a difficult concept to grasp in the year 2009 but I’ll give it a shot: turning off a device can conserve quite a bit of power. Crazy, right? Most people do not NEED to be in touch with the rest of the world, at all times. Examples: while working on a project, while in the bathroom, while sleeping, while in a movie theater, while eating, etc.

Any myth about “well, turning it off and then back on will use up more power than just leaving it idle for a little while” is not true. Leaving a cell phone on when you do not need to do so is using up power you do not need to use up. It’s that simple.

Justin Brown is a writer and artist living in Virginia. He channels most of his mind's molten river of creativity into his blog Esteban Was Eaten!. For even more information about him, check out his website.