How to increase the battery life of your iPhone or Android smartphone

Increase smartphone battery life

The longevity of smartphone batteries seems to be the one thing that manufacturers just can’t get right, no matter how advanced technology becomes. The battery of a new phone may be great for the first few weeks after you get it, but then it starts to decline.

While we may accept the fact that smartphone batteries are just not meant to be awesome (yet), there are some tricks you can try to get more juice from your iPhone and Android smartphone batteries.

For iPhone*

Signal strength

A weak signal can drain your battery, as it is constantly searching for a better one in the background. To temporarily avoid this battery drain you can switch on Airplane Mode (simply go to Settings > Airplane Mode to do this), which will block all cellular signals from coming through. Keep in mind that this blocks both phone calls and messages, and your WiFi will also be switched off in this mode. There is the option of switching on WiFi after enabling Airplane Mode, so you could do that if having WiFi is essential to you. Airplane Mode is great for when you’re certain that you won’t be using your phone.

Notifications

Getting constant notifications is not only annoying – it also saps energy. To switch off app notifications go to Settings > Notifications and turn off those you know you do not need to receive.

Display

Anything to do with one’s display can cause battery life to decline. Set your auto-lock function to lock within the shortest amount of time available (go to Settings > General > Auto-lock).This will ensure that your phone isn’t on when you’re not using it.

Another tip is to turn off the auto-brightness setting (Settings > Display & Brightness). This may affect how well you can see in bright or direct sunlight, but rather adjust the brightness manually should you need to.

Running apps

You may not realise it, but every time you open an app on your iPhone it stays open in the background even when you’re not using it any more. This can ruin battery life, so make sure to regularly double-tap the iPhone Home button and swipe the apps you’re not using upwards to close them.

App refresh

Many people like to know that when they open an app the latest information is immediately at their fingertips. This is why the background app refresh feature exists. But – you guessed it – this is another drain on your battery. Many of the apps that are constantly updating in the background will be apps that you don’t even use regularly.

Go to Settings > General > Background App Refresh, where you can see all of the apps that use this feature. Simply turn off the ones that you know are not essential to your everyday phone use. You can even turn the feature off completely, but this will mean that you need to refresh every app manually.

Tracking

There are various features on an iPhone that track what you do on and with your phone, all of which impact on battery life.

The Healthkit application was introduced when the iPhone 4S came out. It monitors your daily activity levels and amount of steps taken (amongst other things). To do this it uses special sensors at all times. This can be a destroyer of battery life, especially if you’re not using it daily as part of your fitness routine. To disable it go to Settings > Privacy > Motion & Fitness and turn off the Fitness Tracking setting.

Spotlight is a feature that regularly scans and indexes your iPhone’s contents to provide you with the best search results and suggestions. It doesn’t make a lot of difference to battery life – but every bit helps. Select the areas you want Spotlight to index and remove the ones you don’t by going to Settings > General > Spotlight Search.

Another feature that is quite helpful on the iPhone but a potential hazard to your battery life is Frequent Locations. iPhone keeps track of places you have been as well as how often and when you visited them. This helps to create personalized services such as predictive traffic routing. To turn it off go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services > Frequent Locations.

For Android*

Do some detective work

Find out which apps or features are consuming the most battery power by going to Settings > Battery. It will display those which sap the most energy first. Often there are apps running in the background even when you’re not using them. If something is taking up too much energy, make sure to close it regularly, or simply adjust the settings if it’s something necessary like your screen.

You can even uninstall apps if they are really being a pain. Just a tip here: the Facebook app is known for being the worst culprit when it comes to depleting battery life. Uninstall it to see whether this is the case for you, and then simply visit it from your phone’s browser. You can always reinstall it later.

To close apps that you have opened previously but are still running, go to Settings > Apps, and swipe to the left (to see the “Running” tab). Tap on the app you want to view and force stop it if you don’t want it to run any more.

Screen brightness, sleep time and wallpaper

Try to set your screen brightness to 50% or lower, as screens are often a big energy drain (Settings > Display > Brightness). You may also need to turn off Automatic Brightness or Adaptive Brightness as it is known in Lollipop (simply untick the box).

Sleep time is the amount of time the screen waits during inactive periods before it turns off. Most Android phones are automatically set to sleep after 30 seconds of inactivity, but if you can do so reduce it even more (15 seconds is ideal).

Remember to always use wallpapers that are dark, as lighter colours require more energy to be displayed. Also, avoid dynamic (animated) wallpapers.

Power saver

If your Android phone has a battery saver mode (most Samsung, HTC, Sony and Motorola models do), why not use it? Simply go to Settings > Battery > Battery Saver to activate it or swipe down to see your notifications bar at the top to switch it on.

Syncing up

Apps that constantly sync in the background can be a big drain on one’s battery life. Having syncing occur automatically isn’t necessary, as you can sync apps manually when you open them by swiping down when they are open (Gmail is one such example).

First off, manage the syncing that has already been turned on. Go to Settings > Accounts and Sync. There you can select which accounts and apps are allowed to sync in the background and turn off those that you don’t want to sync.

You can also manage the frequency with which apps and accounts sync. Go to Settings > Accounts and Sync (as above) and tap on the item that you want to set the sync frequency for. There should be a Sync Frequency option (not all accounts or apps have this).

You can also turn off all syncing temporarily (great when you’re sleeping or not going to be using your phone at all) by simply swiping down your notification bar and deselecting the Sync option.

Bad vibrations

It takes more power to vibrate your phone than to play a sound when it rings or receives a notification. Turn the vibrating feature off if you absolutely don’t need it for awareness, by going to Settings > Device > Sound and Notification (or Sound, depending on which version of Android you have). If you have Android 4.4 or lower uncheck the “Vibrate when ringing” box. If you have Android 5.0 or higher, enable or disable “Also vibrate for calls”.

Haptic feedback can also be a battery drain. These are those little vibrations you feel when you tap on something or use the Android keyboard. To turn this off go to Settings > Language and Keyboard > Touch Input > Text Input. Uncheck the box that says “Vibrate when typing”. Also turn off “Sound feedback” for extra battery-saving power.

* System upgrades and different phone manufacturers mean that not all instructions will be identical to those explained here.