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Smartphones & gadgets

What’s draining your battery once and for all

If you’ve been following our regular free tips here at, you’ve most likely read that you can be charging your smartphone wrong.

To squeeze more out of your smartphone battery, it is recommended that you wait until a certain percentage before plugging it in, unplug when it’s fully charged, resist charging it overnight and always store it at 50 percent.

We know, it doesn’t matter how fancy or current your smartphone is, it is quite useless if its battery runs out of juice. With all the things we can do with smartphones nowadays, making it last one full day is always a challenge.

If your smartphone’s battery keeps getting red-lined before the day is even over, there are a few tweaks you can do to help it along.

Here are functions in your smartphone that are constantly draining your battery. Most of these features you don’t necessarily need and turning them off can do wonders for your battery life.

Turning on location services for every app

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Using your phone’s GPS radios for location tracking is a big battery hog. You can disable your phone’s location services altogether but that may limit the functionality of a number of apps.

Obviously, location sensitive apps such as mapping/traffic guides, outdoor running/hiking workout trackers, and social media check-in apps like Facebook, Yelp or Foursquare will require location services to be turned on to take advantage of their specialized tracking features. If you don’t really care for or rarely use any of the location-based functions of these apps, then go ahead and turn off your phone’s general location services to save juice.

Another not too drastic method is to limit location services depending on the specific app. Most apps don’t need location tracking turned on all the time and some apps don’t need location tracking at all to function properly.

We recommend checking through your phone’s Location Services settings and select and deselect apps according to your needs.

On iOS, you can limit apps’ location access to “Never,” “While Using The App,” or “Always.” For most apps, “While Using the App” will be the best setting but you can always restrict it to “Never” if you feel that a particular app doesn’t need location info. With that said, having each app’s location set to “Always” will be one big battery killing mistake you want to avoid.

To check and modify an iPhone’s Location Services, open Settings >> Privacy >> Location Services. From here you could turn Location Services completely off by toggling the switch or scroll down and set the setting for each app.

For Android users, it depends on your Android version and device model but typically you can check an app’s location service by going to the Settings app >> Personal >> Location >> “Recent location requests.” To control your device’s location tracking go to Personal >> Location >> Mode >> then toggle “Location” to Off.

Excessive screen brightness

Your phone’s screen brightness actually plays a huge factor in prolonging your battery life. If you are a power user and you have it on full brightness all the time, then you’re probably losing two to three hours compared to having it on half brightness.

Setting your screen brightness to as low as you can go while preserving viewability is the best way to go for getting more usable hours from your phone. Turning on your smartphone’s Auto-Brightness so it will automatically adjust to the current ambient light is also recommended.

On iOS, adjust your brightness setting by swiping up to access the control center then set the slider to the desired setting. You can also set the Brightness and turn on Auto-Brightness by going to Settings >> Display & Brightness.

On Android, go to Settings >> Display >> Brightness. You could slide to the desired setting here and also turn on “Automatic Brightness.”

Background activity apps

Another setting that you need to check is background apps that are allowed to refresh even when the app is not in use. This allows certain apps to occasionally check your location, send push notifications, or automatically update its status. With all this background activity enabled, your battery life will surely take a big hit because of all the processes running hidden from plain view.

Similar to Location Services, it is advised that you review your settings and turn off Background App Refresh for apps that you don’t need to be constantly refreshing. Keep in mind that apps that may need background refresh include cloud backup services, step/activity tracking apps, and instant messenger apps, so be careful when selecting which ones you turn off. In general, though, turning off background activities for most apps will squeeze more life out of your battery.

To check Background Refresh on an iPhone go to Settings >> General>> Background App Refresh >> then either toggle the general Background App Refresh setting to Off or better yet, scroll down to select which apps you want it enabled.

On Android, without third-party apps, there’s no general toggle to stop background apps. To stop apps from running in the background, you can try force stopping an app by accessing Settings >> Apps >> Apps Manager >> then select the app to force stop it.

Push email


Another reason why you’re going through battery power so quickly is having your push email enabled. This is especially true if you have multiple email accounts on your phone and they are constantly trying to get email updates as they come.

Push is when email is dropped to your phone’s inbox whenever a new message comes in so your phone is constantly listening to the email server. This can drain your battery significantly faster if you receive numerous emails on various accounts set up on your phone.

For more efficiency, it is recommended that you turn off Push for email and set your phone to fetch manually or at set intervals.

To change this setting on an iPhone go to Settings >> Accounts & Passwords >> Fetch New Data >> then toggle Push to Off. On this same page you can set each account to Fetch according to a set schedule or manually. (For best battery savings, set the Fetch schedule to Manual.)

Note: On older iOS versions, Fetch New Data is under Settings >> Mail.

On Android, again it depends on your Android version and device. Typically you can go to Settings >> Accounts >> Choose email account you want to modify >> Change Sync settings.

Long screen timeout

A quick setting you could tweak is your screen timeout settings. The longer your screen is on when it’s idle, the more battery life it consumes. Try shortening your phone’s timeout setting to better efficiency since this will turn off the screen quicker when you’re not using your phone.

To set your Auto-Lock settings on an iPhone, go to Settings >> Display & Brightness >> Auto-Lock >> then set your auto-lock duration. The shorter, the better.

For Android, again it depends on your device, but try going to Settings >> Display >> Screen Timeout to shorten your times.

Avoid extreme temperatures

Due to how a lithium-ion battery’s cathode, electrolyte and anode chemical reactions work, it’s vital that users avoid extreme heat or cold as much as possible.

Never leave your phone in a hot car or under the sun because the heat speeds up the chemical reactions that make batteries lose their capacity. These reactions break down the electrolyte and reduce the number of accumulation of lithium ions on the anode, meaning the battery will have less capacity every time it’s exposed to higher temperatures.

Cold exposure is not as bad but it can also temporarily shorten your gadget’s battery life and even shut it down. When exposed to low temperatures, the liquid inside your battery may actually freeze!

Battery life will return to normal when the device is brought back to higher ambient temperatures.

Don’t drain it down to zero

To make your smartphone’s lithium-ion battery last longer, do not drain it down completely.

The lithium-ion batteries don’t have the “memory effect” that older nickel batteries were prone to have. Nickel batteries had to be drained completely because they tend to forget part of their total capacity if they’re not down to zero before recharging.

In lithium-ion batteries, it’s the exact opposite. If you drain a lithium-ion battery down to zero, you are actually diminishing its capacity so they advise to just manually turn your phone off before it “dies.”

Always store at 50 percent charge

If you’re storing your phone unused for an extended amount of time, keep the battery charged at 50 percent before turning it off for storage.

For even longer periods, they recommend turning on the phone every six months or so and plugging it in to charge it back to 50 percent.

Lithium-ion batteries apparently have a tendency to destabilize if left discharged for a period of time. If destabilized, a lithium-ion battery could exhibit the thermal runaway effect and explode.

Fortunately, modern lithium-ion batteries have built-in self-destruct mechanisms that will kick in before destabilizing. If the self-destruct circuit is triggered, however, the battery will never be usable again.

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