It’s a Friday night. You’re meeting your friends for a drink, then you’ll figure out the next step. The last thing you want to worry about is your phone’s battery dying. You could carry around one of those heavy wall chargers (yuck) or, better yet, a lipstick-sized portable charger—but even that could run low on juice over an evening. A better option is to have a plan for conserving your cellphone’s battery life before it dies, so you can still call Lyft for that critical ride home at night. Here are some tips for extending your phone’s average battery life.
Configure Your Phone for Low Battery Usage
Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: Most smartphones now have adjustable settings that are specific to conserving the phone’s battery life. Depending on the phone, selecting one option can enact a whole slew of settings intended to help save power.
For Android, look under Settings > Battery, or just under the main pull-down menu. If you have an iPhone 9 or later, this is called “Low Power Mode” and is also available under Settings > Battery.
Use Wi-Fi Over Cellular Data (Most of the Time)
When your phone is constantly searching for a network, as it does when Wi-Fi is turned on, it’s scarfing down battery power like crazy. But when your phone is on a cellular network, it’s also working hard (switching between towers, pausing while you text). So, which is better? Here’s the right way to manage your connection:
Use Wi-Fi if it’s available, since it uses less juice than cellular data.
Use cellular data if there is no Wi-Fi.
In this case, disable Wi-Fi since to stop your phone from continually searching out a Wi-Fi connection. For iOS, enable “Wi-Fi Assist” on newer model phones, which automatically switches to cellular data if a Wi-Fi connection is weak (this can use up a serious amount of data though, so watch out).
Enable Airplane Mode if there is no cellular network or Wi-Fi available. There’s no point in your phone continuously scanning for a connection that doesn’t exist.
If your battery is low, use Airplane Mode liberally. Yes, it’s painful and you won’t get any texts or calls, but if the night is winding down and you still haven’t called for a Lyft or Uber, it’s best to switch to Airplane Mode until you absolutely need to contact someone. That way, you’re more likely to have a little battery life to spare when you need it.
Turn Off GPS Tracking
GPS tracking, also called “location services” is critical to the functionality of certain apps, of course. This includes any map-based app such as Google Maps or the iOS Maps app, but this also applies to many other common apps such as Uber, Google Play, and Yelp.
On Android, turn off GPS tracking through Settings > Location. (Note that Settings > Google > Location takes you to the same place.) On iOS, you can turn off GPS through Settings > Privacy > Location Services.
Dim Your Screen
Whatever you do, don’t use your phone’s . While this setting might sound useful —and some people do recommend it for saving your battery—it’s almost always better to manually control your screen’s light, especially if your goal is to conserve power, because the automatic setting will often make the screen brighter than it needs to be.
Another screen tweak: If your phone’s screen has a very high resolution, you can decrease it to reduce the strain on your battery.
Hibernate Your Apps
Turn off Background Refresh, which anticipates when you’re mostly likely to use certain apps and updates their data in the background. This uses a lot of power behind the scenes and simply isn’t necessary most of the time. When you open Facebook, WhatsApp or your Twitter feed, they’re going to update on the spot anyway.
To fix this on iOS, navigate to Settings > General > Background App Refresh. On Android, if your phone is running OS 8.0 (Oreo) or higher, take advantage of the default “Background Execution Limits” option. For earlier Android OS versions, control automatic app refreshing via individual app settings under Settings > Apps.
Don’t Share That Video…and Hold Off on the Gaming
It’s not a myth that gaming sucks up battery power faster than Alto on a snowboard.. The same goes for viewing, streaming or sharing videos. All that screen use and data transferring demand a lot of your phone, so it’s best to post that video you just took after you get home.
If you really want to game, you might consider purchasing the app rather than putting up with ads. Rumor has it that Angry Bird’s ads suck up more juice than the game itself.
Shelley Hoose is a writer and editor with a background in tech and the environment. Find her at http://theagilepen.com.