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Sep 26 2012

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How to improve battery life on smartphones

I recently jumped the ship from BlackBerry Bold 9900 RDE71UW to Samsung Galaxy S III SGH-I747. One of the major issues I ran into (other than missing out on BBM and physical keyboard) is battery life. It is hypocritical to blame it on Samsung because Bold 99xx run on 4G/HSPA+ network with BIS connection which in comparison to GS III run on faster true 4G/LTE network. With the added speed of LTE network and large Android apps repository, no wonder GS III use more battery power than RIM’s flagship Bold 99xx. Here are tips and tricks to save the juice on your smartphone without giving up on performance.

Brighter screen

Under low-light conditions such as inside a building, you don’t need a bright screen. In fact, this is the most battery draining component of the phone. As long as you can clearly read what is on the screen, by lowering the brightness, you can increase the battery life significantly in two different ways. First it will increase the short term(daily) battery life and second it will increase the longevity (how long the battery can hold charge over a period of 3/4 years) of your battery by reducing the number of change cycles(aka lower rate of battery degeneration).
In addition, you can set the screen brightness settings to Auto allowing the OS to automatically reduce the brightness when the phone is not in use.

Reduce auto-sync

There are a lot of apps use background sync for backup. With the increased use of cloud services such DropBox and GoogleDrive by third party apps, the battery drain and data usage also increase significantly. You should customize settings on each app to sync only when the app is in operation. In addition make sure that each time you exit an app, it is complete closed and not running in the background.

Radios are evil

Having too many radio files open is bad for the battery. To reduce the battery drain turn off wifi, Bluetooth, hotspot and NFC connections whenever it is possible. If you are in an area with low to no 4G/LTE coverage, you can also go to settings of most phones to select 3G network instead(this will not work on certain service providers such as Telus due to they only supporting LTE on certain devices). With respect to 2.4GHz and 5GHz channels on wifi, most experts believe that 2.4Ghz use less energy. You can select which bandwidth to use from the wifi advance settings.

Timeout settings

Change the auto timeout settings for the following to minimum or 2 min or less;

  • screen backlight
  • searching for available wifi networks
  • auto sync connection on apps
  • unresponsive connections on Bluetooth, wifi, NFC, etc.

Polling intervals(NOT applicable to BlackBerry phones on BIS/BES)

With exception to BlackBerry devices all other smartphones are really dumb when it comes to pulling data off of STMP/IMAP/POP email servers. Even with Exchange systems often iOS, Android and Windows Mobile will request data from email servers in pre-determined intervals. I have set mine on my Samsung GS III to every 15 min because I heavily relied on my phone for email. However, if you are not critical about time of retrieval(time between the email sent to the server and time it get loaded to your phone), I would set the polling to 1 hour intervals. You can always poll manually by opening up your email program and choosing either “sync” or “check mail” (may have different variation on different OS platforms). BlackBerry phones don’t have this issues because they have a BIS/BES push notification where as soon as an email hit the mail server, it get forwarded to the phone in real time.

New user, HOLD ON to your nerves!

Final advice I can give to any new user to any type of electronic gadgets is that Li-ion and Li-polymer batteries takes several charge and drain cycles to get settled in to the device. So if you buy a new laptop, tablet, phone or anything electronic, give it a week or so before judge the abilities of the juice. It took five days for my new GS III to give out an output of 8 hours in 40% drain from horrible 8 hours in 70% drain.

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