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How to make any smartphone's battery last longer

Family Minister Manuela Schwesig uses a smartphone prior to the weekly German government cabinet meeting on April 8, 2014 in Berlin.
Family Minister Manuela Schwesig uses a smartphone prior to the weekly German government cabinet meeting on April 8, 2014 in Berlin.
Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

As people become more accustomed to using smartphones for work, fun and everything else, battery life is a continuing concern. While smartphone batteries may last all day with light usage after charging at night, people who use their phones extensively without the ability to plug in and recharge often find the battery is low by mid-afternoon. Here are a number of things a user can do that will reduce the smartphone's rate of battery consumption.

These tips will extend the life of most smartphones including Droids, iPhones, Windows Phones and Blackberrys.
Susan J. Walker

Consider dimming the screen. In most cases, lighting the screen is the number one user of battery power. Most smartphones give you the option to choose a brighter or dimmer screen; the dimmer you keep it, the less battery the phone will consume.

Reduce the amount of time the screen stays lit when not in use. For example, iPhone lets you choose to have the phone lock and go dark after one, two, three, four or five minutes without being used. Android offers a 30-second option. If you can put up with the shortest available setting you may notice an improvement in battery life. Incidentally, it's not a good idea to default to the "Never" option; not only does this reduce battery life but it also leaves the phone and data unprotected in case of theft.

Turn off location services anytime you're not intentionally using them. Anything on the phone that is automatically sending or receiving location data when you aren't using it is wasting your battery as well as your cellular service.

You can save more battery power by placing the phone on airplane mode anytime you know you're traveling through an area where you can't receive calls or texts. The phone will normally search for a carrier as it moves in and out of coverage areas. Anytime you're traveling this searching action uses battery life.

Change email settings. You have the option to set the phone so that you only receive email when you choose to ask for it from the email server, rather than allowing your phone to poll the email services periodically.

Turn off any apps that you are not using. You can turn them back on when you need them. Particularly if you have apps that measure your speed or share your location, turn these off anytime you are concerned about saving battery power. An easy way to turn off all the apps on the phone is to shut down the phone then restart it.

Consider turning off cellular data services and WiFi when not in use. Your phone will still ring when called and you'll still receive texts. When you get ready to check your email, to surf the Internet or to use an app, you can quickly turn on cellular data or WiFi from the settings screen.

Make sure the phone is not set to backup or synchronize automatically during the day. Handle backup and sync operations manually when needed, or schedule them to happen at times when the phone is plugged in to a power source. Avoid automatic synchronization during the day, for example, with Google, iCloud or mail servers.

Turn off "Background App Refresh" or anything else on your settings menu that allows apps to be updated automatically. There's rarely any reason for to apps to update themselves on the fly. You can either handle app updates manually at a time the phone is plugged into a power source, or you can turn on the background refresh option to allow updates at night while the phone is charging. "Background App Refresh" appears on the "General" menu of the iPhone.

Turn off Bluetooth when not in use. Bluetooth is the service that allows your phone to connect wirelessly with a headset or with your car's sound system. It's one more thing that consumes some of the battery's stored power and there is no need to have it running when you're not using it.

Turn off any alerts and notifications that you don't want. This may include notices from calendars, reminders, EBay, banks, email, text, and many more. Undoubtedly you want some of these apps to alert you when things happen, but nearly every app is capable of sending you alerts and you probably don't need to receive them all.