When your phone’s battery runs down inexplicably fast, certain apps and settings are likely to blame. A recent report by AVG actually pinpointed the top battery-draining apps on Android, which included Facebook, Spotify, Instagram, Path, and Amazon Shopping. Just knowing that those apps are notorious energy offenders could help you manage how you use them, and thus reduce their battery consumption.
Here are some more ways to make your iPhone and Android phone battery last longer. I cover iPhone first, then Android. At the end, I’ve listed some additional resources for both platforms.
How to Improve Your iPhone’s Battery Life
Assess Battery Usage App by App
In iOS 8, you can see for yourself how much battery power each app is sucking down, as well as some indication why. The Battery Usage screen gives iPhone users a clear way to assess which apps are causing the phone’s battery life to suffer.
How: Go to Settings > General > Usage > Battery Usage. You’ll find a list of your active apps showing the percent of the battery they’ve used over both the last 24 hours and the past week. Beneath some apps, you may see additional information, such as Background Activity, Location and Background Location, or Low Signal. Based on what you find here, you can make more informed decisions about how to adjust your other settings to gain back battery power.
Adjust Background App Refresh
One way to earn back big battery savings is to turn off background refresh for apps that you don’t use avidly and actively, but I do not recommend turning it off completely! Background App Refresh means an app can check for new content and download updates or content when it receives push notifications.
There are many instances when you do want apps to refresh in the background. For example, messaging apps, such as WhatsApp,SnapChat, and Wickr wouldn’t be nearly as useful if you didn’t get a notification when a new message arrived. You need background refresh enabled for that to happen. That said, there are probably some apps that don’t need to refresh in the background. Fitbit users, for example, who have syncing set up via their computer might want to turn off background refresh for the Fitbit app in order to preserve the battery life of their iPhone.
How: Go to Settings > General > Background App Refresh. Toggle off any apps that you consider non-essential.
Disable Location Services (GPS) Until You Need Them
Location Services, or GPS, really drains the battery. Sometimes, like when you get mapped directions, you absolutely need it. But when you’re not using it, switch it off. I really wish there were on/off switch for GPS in the iOS Control Center for easy toggling, but there isn’t.
How: Go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services and toggle the button to off. Toggle it back on when you need directions or “live” maps.
Switch Email From Push or Fetch to Manual
Years ago, I set all my email accounts on iPhone to Manual, meaning I only get new messages in my inbox when I open my Mail app and pull down the screen to force a refresh. I am very happy with this setup, and I think other people will be, too. It not only does wonders for the iPhone’s battery, but it also prevents me from being overwhelmed with notifications of new messages.
If you don’t rely on new email notifications, I highly recommend switching to manual refresh.
If you do rely on email notifications, you still have two options: Push and Fetch. Push means your phone is checking for new email very often, and it is the setting that most drains the battery. Fetch means it checks for email every X minutes, with your options being 15, 30, and 60.
How: Go to Settings > General > Mail, Contacts, Calendar > Fetch New Data. Tap an email account. Select Manual. Go back and repeat for your other accounts.
Alternatively, choose Fetch and select a time interval. The longer the interval, the better for your battery.
Manage Notifications Wisely
Notifications are less of a battery-sucking culprit than Background App Refresh, but they can take a toll if they wake up the screen often. Those little jolts of energy needed to illuminate your phone can add up. Notifications are necessary for messaging apps, Uber and Lyft, as well as other apps that are designed to get information in front of your eyeballs as it happens. But if you’re a stickler for using notifications sparingly, only when they’re really needed, your iPhone’s battery will last longer. I leave notifications off for most apps, and that includes Mail, social apps such as LinkedIn and Pinterest, and games. I’ll play my turn at Words with Friends when I’m good and ready, not the moment my mom is finished creating another 60-point word (she’s good).
How: Go to Settings > Notifications and look under the list called Include. Tap any app, and on the next screen you can turn off notifications entirely, or customize the type and style of notification. If you can live without the notification lighting up your phone when it’s locked, turn off Show on Lock Screen.
Store Your iPhone at 50 Percent
Here’s a tip that comes directly from Apple that I had never learned until now: If you need to store your device for an extended period of time, only charge it to about 50 percent. Charging the battery all the way to maximum capacity can negatively affect the battery’s ability in the future to hold a charge. That’s an excellent and unintuitive tip.
How: About an hour before storing your device, check the battery level on your phone in the upper right corner of the screen. Set an alarm for 20 minutes. Plug in the phone, and when the alarm rings, check the battery level again. If it’s anywhere between about 60 and 40 percent, you’re done, so unplug and power down your phone. If it’s at less than 30 percent, reset the alarm and check again in another 20 minutes.
How to Improve Your Android’s Battery Life
Note: Not all Android phones use the same placement of features, and therefore, some instructions under “How” may vary for your device and version of the operating system.
Find the Battery Hogs
Android users have the delightful ability to see exactly which apps and services are hitting the battery the hardest. With this information, you can assess for yourself whether you want to delete or adjust an app or setting to gain back some juice (see details in the next tip). For example, if the screen is listed first, you might turn down the brightness or adjust apps that wake up the screen with their notifications.
How: Go to Settings > Battery, and you’ll see a list of resources in order of how much energy they consume.
Switch Some Apps for Manual Sync
If you find some apps are using too much energy and want to reduce their consumption, one way is to prevent them from looking for updates all the time. In Android, it’s called auto-sync and background data (developers call it polling). I do not recommend turning off auto-sync and background data for all apps and services, as it’s essential for messaging apps and other apps that put information in front of your eyeballs when you need it most (i.e., as-it-happens updating). That said, many apps and services, including email for many people, work perfectly fine if you only allow them to refresh and pull in new data when you use them. I personally don’t get any value out of leaving syncing enabled for social networking apps, such as Facebook and Twitter, because I don’t need the information to be updated until I’m in the app. People who use those apps for real-time communication with friends (like getting a direct message that says, “I’m running late”) may feel differently, of course.
How: The location of the auto-sync or polling buttons varies, but start looking for them under Menu > Settings > Accounts, or in the settings of each app. I suggest turning off auto-sync for email, Facebook, and Twitter to start (assuming your life or job doesn’t require on-demand notifications for these apps).
Turn Off GPS When Not in Use
GPS is brilliant when you need it, and a waste of battery when you don’t. Turn off GPS when not in use, and your Android phone’s battery life will almost certainly improve.
How: With many Android phones, you can access the GPS on/off toggle by swiping down from the top of the screen. It will appear at the top Notification Bar alongside Wi-Fi and other settings. Alternatively, you can create a GPS on/off widget for your home screen.
Disable NFC and Bluetooth, Especially if You Don’t Use Them
Similar to toggling GPS on and off for only times you need it, you can do the same with NFC and Bluetooth. If you don’t use any NFC or Bluetooth devices or services, then switch these settings off permanently. There’s no need for them to be beaming out and using the battery to do so.
You can also toggle off Wi-Fi for that matter, though I wouldn’t recommend it because if you forget to turn it back on when you do want it, you might only make your battery situation worse!
How: Swipe down from the top of the screen, and toggle the services off from the Notification Bar. You can also reach these settings from a power control widget, if you have created one.
When Nothing Else Works…
If you just can’t seem to get the battery power you need from your phone, invest in a really good add-on battery for your phone, like theMophie Juice Pack (for iPhone 6) or Mophie Juice Pack (for Samsung Galaxy S4).