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My phone battery lasts often less than 3 hours. How do I get more life out of it?

FYI, it's a 3 year old Apple iPhone 5.

  • Since my suggestion already exists, though not for my reasons, I'll add it as a comment. If you are in a cell service dead spot or roaming frequently your phone is constantly searching for a better network signal, and this can kill a brand new battery in a couple of hours. If you know you are in such an area then definitely use airplane mode to save your battery for when you have signal. – Doug Watkins Feb 23 '15 at 23:16
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    <pedantic>iPhone 5 wasn't released until Sept 2012, which means your phone cannot be 3 years old.</pedantic> – Chris Farmer Feb 24 '15 at 8:12
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    @ChrisFarmer Let's just say more than 2 years (2 years 111 days at the time of writing) – Coomie Feb 25 '15 at 7:14
  • You've got a lot of good suggestions, but depending on how many charge cycles the phone has, you might well need to replace the battery. It's not trivial to replace it, but there are numerous options for getting someone to do it. – Tom Harrington Feb 25 '15 at 22:47
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A few things I always do to try and preserve my battery life:

  • Reduce Brightness
    I always have the brightness as low as possible while not having to strain my eyes to see the screen - the dimmer the screen, the less power it uses. Also turn off auto brightness as this usually takes more battery than needed.
  • Turn off WiFi and Bluetooth
    Always have these off when not in use (i.e. out and about) as it will always be looking for a connection when not connected which will take more power.
  • Put in Airplane Mode
    If you are in a WiFi zone and you do not need cellular network (i.e. all messages are through iMessage or whatsapp or others) and you have no need for calling people, you can just connect to the WiFi network while not using your phones network which would draw more power than necessary if it's not needed. This will also help the phone to charge more quickly when you are trying to recharge the battery.
  • Turn off Location Services
    Make sure than none of your apps are using your location while not in use (even while in use if you don't need them too) this can be configured in your settings and the less location services being used, the less power you'll consume, thus preserving battery life.
  • Do Not Disturb
    Put it into do not disturb mode as this will stop it vibrating or going off if you get messaged - unless you always need to know when you receive a message.
  • Don't Close Apps
    Force quitting all your apps regularly can actually be more power consuming so this method of battery saving is a total myth. There's a video about it here with more detail but in short - unless the apps are doing any of a few specific tasks, the phone suspends the task until it is re-opened, this means it uses zero processing cycles which means basically no power usage.
  • Don't let it overheat
    I used to find my iPhone would get very hot when playing games or watching videos and this would reduce battery performance so if you ever find the phone getting hot then perhaps stopping what you are doing would be a good idea in order to improve battery life.
  • Don't fetch emails
    If your phone checks for new emails every so often you can turn this off or reduce the frequency of it in order to conserve battery - turning fetch off will mean you have to go onto the emails before it will look for new messages.
  • Turn off Parallax
    This fun new feature from the update last year does cause your battery to drain more than it needs to, so unless you're totally in love with this feature then turn it off.
  • Don't auto-update apps
    This will firstly use a lot of data and will also draw lots of power when updating apps so only do this when you have a WiFi connection and you have a power source nearby.
  • Turn it off
    If you are not going to be using your phone for a long time then turning it off would be a great power saver as it will reduce the battery consumption to near zero which is naturally very good. Also turning it off while charging will help to charge it more quickly.
  • Recharge ONLY when needed
    Avoid putting the phone on charge while it still has a fair amount of battery remaining, doing this actually reduces the amount of charge it is able to hold so allowing the battery to get down to a lower percentage (>10-20%) would be better before you connect it to power.

You can always check what is using the most battery if you go to Settings -> General -> Usage -> Battery Usage and then you can think about using that feature less or getting rid of it completely.
One thing to keep in mind is that the most power consuming thing is having the screen on, so having it off as soon as you stop using it and not checking it every 5 seconds will help big time.

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    +1. Although after reading your suggestions, I think you missed this one: Turn off your phone to reduce battery consumption to absolute zero. – Farhan Feb 23 '15 at 15:00
  • @Farhan True, true - I shall add that in now, thanks! – MrPhooky Feb 23 '15 at 15:01
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    Your point 'recharge only when needed' is incorrect for Li-Ion batteries. You're talking about the memory effect, this only applies to NiCd batteries which haven't been used in phones for years. – Hobbes May 10 '15 at 11:09
  • Turning of wifi alone can lead to shortened life, as it will download notification via cellular which costs more energy than wifi. – Agent_L May 10 '15 at 20:50
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  • Make sure that geolocation, bluetooth and wi-fi, 3G are turned off when not needed - they often consume much power

  • Also, when you don't use or don't need cellular communication, turn it off also (this and above can be turned off by enabling "Airplane mode")

  • Quit all the apps you are not using

  • Remove all the apps you don't need or turn off undeleteable default apps (Samsung option), because some apps have background processes which, of course, consume some power too

  • Set auto-turn-on and auto-turn-off when you don't need you phone, or just turn it off yourself and turn on again when you need it

  • Reduce the brightness of the screen

  • If your background on the main screen has a parallax effect, turn it off. Also applies to the transparency of notification center and control panel (which appears when you swipe from the bottom).

  • Don't allow your battery to become completely empty - it will worsen the life time of your battery

  • New Samsungs also have an option to reduce performance, fps, make the screen monochrome

  • Interestingly, Quit all the apps you are not using is stated as opposite in MrPhooky's answer. I wonder what is the real truth : ) – fedorqui May 20 '16 at 11:52
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    @fedorqui I mean, not force close, but use the built-in task manager. Looks like it especially applies to games - I've seen such games that continue running in the background, and they don't just drain the battery, but sometimes even heat the device. – nicael Jan 6 '17 at 8:52
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In addition to the steps mentioned by @MrPhooky, following are regularly usable practices which won't restrict your frequent use of phone.

  • Use a complete black background/wallpaper. Screens when black consume less battery.
  • Switch off any keypad tones/vibration/haptic feedback. They are generally set to full volume from factory.
  • Switch off GPS. For location update, switch to something like battery saving mode in location settings.
  • Switch to adaptive brightness, instead of a fixed brightness setting.
  • If travelling long distances where network state changes frequently, switch to flight mode. That way you can use your phone offline & come back online with a tap whenever need to use network.

Further, avoid overcharging your phone; don't go to sleep plugging the charger. Also, contrary to @nicael, allow your phone to completely drain battery once in a month or two. This helps.

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    Your phone has charging circuitry which monitors the battery. It will stop charging when the battery is full. There is no drawback to leaving the phone plugged in overnight. – Hobbes May 10 '15 at 11:10
  • Don't know about iPhone but my Nexus 5 becomes warm while charging & it remains so even 1hr after 100% charged and plugged in. I know the box comes with overcharge protection label; but this observation led me into that conclusion. – Tirtha R May 10 '15 at 12:50
  • Black background saves battery for AMOLED displays (eg. galaxies and some lumias) while iPhone has LCD with backlight. – Agent_L May 10 '15 at 20:54
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It is a fact of life with current battery technologies that the useful lifetime of a battery is usually less than the useful lifetime of the device it was sold in. If you always buy the latest and greatest and replace your phone every year, you won't notice it. If you get second-hand phones, or change it once per decade, you're likely to need to replace the battery. Three years is a typical timeframe for a smartphone battery to show serious signs of wear.

On an iPhone, replacing the battery is difficult, but not impossible. (Why? Because covers that can open are considered ugly. That this incites you to buy a new phone for $600 rather than replace a battery for $30 is a side benefit.) For the iPhone 5 specifically, Apple has a replacement program, but that's only for a specific series where the battery suddenly gets worse. In general, Apple won't help you. iPhones are popular models, and you can find tutorials online — Ifixit is a good one. There's even a $25 specialized tool for that.

Alternatively, if you really don't want to open your phone, use an external battery pack. For $20–$100 and 100g–300g you can get an external battery pack that's about the same capacity as the internal one or several times that.

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