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Tech Q&A: How to Maximize Your Smartphone’s Battery Life

Feel like you’re plugging in every five minutes? Follow these no-fail power-preserving tips.

Humans are evolving—we were born with hands and fingers, and over the past decade, a new appendage has sprouted from our fingertips. Essential for completing life’s most basic tasks, the smartphone is as much a part of our bodies as anything else.

Well, not really. But it certainly feels that way—and we’re kind of lost without the thing when the battery drains to zero in the middle of the day.

Unfortunately, you can’t power your phone with a protein bar (well, not yet at least). Those digital devices burn through battery like a match in a haystack, and if you’re not careful, they’ll die in front of your eyes. To prevent that tragedy, you’ve got two options: toss your power cord in your backpack and pray that you’re never too far from an outlet or learn to maximize your battery life. We suggest the latter, and to help you do it, we tapped Greg Sullivan, senior marketing manager at Microsoft, for seven never-fail tips.

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1. Don’t keep apps running in the background

Once you’re finished with an app, close it. It takes power to run a program, and the more you have open, the more energy you’re going to be sucking from your battery. “Poorly written apps can actually zap 30–40% of a phone’s battery life because of energy inefficiency,” Sullivan says. Think of it like a desk drawer—open it when you need to get stuff out, close it when you’re finished. 

2. Shut off Wi-Fi and data

Your phone is constantly searching for a connection, and looking for a signal takes a lot of juice. If you’re in an area with no service, your device is still going to do its darnedest to find it. If you know you’re not going to be able to make any calls, switch into airplane mode.

3. Use a map

Watching that little dot slowly move up and down the blocks will knock out your battery life—fast. Instead, go old school: Write down directions before you leave.

4. No pushing

Every one of those push notifications that comes through by making a sound or vibration and turning on your screen is eating at your battery life.

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5. Dim the lights

This one is easy. More light requires more energy. Less energy used means more time to text.  

6. Adjust your e-mail

You can change how often your phone searches for new e-mails. Most of us leave our settings on default—“as they come in”—but you can adjust your in-box to update less often. If you’re really looking to save the battery, opt for manual updates.  

7. Carry a power pack

These new devices are (battery) lifesavers. They can give you up to five additional hours of phone time. But a power pack’s not worth much if it’s not juiced up, so make sure you charge it before going out for the night. Not sure which one to buy? We're a big fan of the mophie.

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