Q: What can I do to get better battery life from my smartphone? It doesn’t even get me through the afternoon on most days. — Ed
A: Smartphones are an amazing bit of technology, but all those features come at a high cost: battery life.
Understanding which features eat up your battery and only using them when or if you need them is the best way to extend the life.
One of the biggest drains on the battery is powering those big beautiful screens, so always turn the brightness down to the lowest tolerable setting and turn off the auto-brightness so you can manually control when the screen gets brighter.
Turn off the ‘push’ setting for your e-mail so that mail is not constantly being sent to your phone whether you are reading your e-mail or not. The ‘fetch’ setting determines how often your phone checks for new mail, so set it to the longest possible interval or better yet, set it to manual so that the only time you will get new messages is when you manually tell it to fetch them.
Location services can be used by many apps, so having the GPS circuit constantly updating your location as you move around will also drain the battery. Turn it off unless you need it (if an app needs it, you’ll be alerted) and start saying no to apps that ask to use location services when you first install them.
Having your phone constantly scanning for a wifi signal or a Bluetooth device can also add to the drain, so turn them off until they’re needed.
If you are constantly getting notifications from lots of apps, you probably aren’t paying attention when you are installing apps. You should turn off notifications for all but the important ones (you’ll probably be more productive as well!) and start saying no to apps asking to send you notifications when you install them.
Using your phone as a hotspot for other devices is a super handy feature but you can kill your battery very quickly by using it. Try to avoid turning on the hotspot feature unless you are plugged into a power outlet.
If you do turn on the hotspot while on battery power, remember to turn it off as soon as you are finished or your phone will be on fumes in a relatively short period of time.
Start getting into the habit of routinely checking for any apps that are running in the background and shutting them down, especially those free games that are constantly loading in the ads that support the app.
Newer Android phones have a power-saving mode that does a really great job of managing your phones resources based on the way you use your phone, so try turning it on.
You can also see which apps are eating up the most power on Android devices, which can help you decide if its time to get rid of some unwieldy apps.
One last major thing to remember: heat is a major killer of batteries and will reduce the batteries ability to hold a charge. Avoid direct sunlight especially in the hot summer months and avoid using the phone until it cools down if it’s hot to the touch.
• Ken Colburn is president of Data Doctors Computer Services and host of the Data Doctors Radio Program, noon Saturdays on KTAR 92.3 FM or at www.datadoctors.com/radio. Readers may send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.