15 Easy Ways To Extend Your Phone’s Battery Life

iStock
iStock

If you’ve had the same smartphone for over a year, the battery probably isn’t what it used to be. And no, you’re not just paranoid. According to two 2014 Nature Communications papers, the lithium batteries used to power our devices wear down over time. Apple even admitted to slowing down older iPhones to compensate for degraded batteries.

Sure, you could always pony up for a new battery (or buy a new phone altogether). But if you’d rather save your cash, there are plenty of ways to get some extra juice out of your current device. Try these 15 tips and tricks to extend your battery life.

1. SWITCH ON BATTERY SAVER MODE.

low battery on phone
iStock

This might seem obvious, but most people don’t think about using battery saver mode until their phone is already about to die. Apple’s “Low Power Mode” switches on automatically when you hit 20 percent, but you can head into Settings > Battery to switch it on whenever you want or add it to your Control Center for easier access. Most Android phones offer a similar feature that can be toggled on at any time, which should help your device conserve some power and keep you going all day.

2. CHARGE SMART.

charging phones
iStock

When you do have to recharge your phone, there are some precautions you should take to make sure you don’t degrade the battery any more than necessary. First, only use fast charging when you’re in a rush. While this feature can quickly top off your battery, it also wears down the battery faster than regular charging. If you have time to spare, it's better to use a regular old charger. Second, don’t charge your phone overnight—it only takes a few hours to get a full charge, and the rest of the time spent plugged in will only hurt your battery life in the long run.

3. TURN OFF BLUETOOTH AND WI-FI WHEN NOT IN USE ...

iStock

If Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are enabled, but you’re not connected to anything, your phone will waste battery trying to find a new connection. Instead, the next time you’re out of the house, try switching off Wi-Fi to keep your battery going a little longer. The same goes for Bluetooth. Whenever you’re not connected to a wireless speaker or headphones, just toggle it off. You can control Bluetooth and Wi-Fi from the quick settings menu on most phones, so extra battery life is just a swipe away.

4. ... BUT USE WI-FI WHEN IT IS AVAILABLE.

Free wi-fi sign
iStock

On the other hand, if Wi-Fi is available, you should be using it. Not only does Wi-Fi save data, it uses less battery life than a cellular connection. Don’t forget to switch on Wi-Fi at home, and don’t be ashamed to ask for the internet password if you’re at a friend’s place or a cafe.

5. TURN ON AIRPLANE MODE.

Airplane mode
iStock

If your battery is starting to run low you might want to consider switching on Airplane Mode, which will turn off a bunch of features that use up power. That includes Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, but if you need either of those, you can always turn them back on manually without leaving Airplane Mode.

6. LOWER THE SCREEN BRIGHTNESS.

Bright iphone screen
iStock

When it comes to using up smartphone battery life, one of the worst culprits is the display: Whenever it’s on, you’re losing precious power. One way to get around that is to lower your screen brightness from the quick settings menu. Most phones adjust the brightness automatically depending on the current lighting, so you may have to do this every time you switch on the screen. Still, it’s worth it if you get even a few minutes of extra phone time as a result.

7. DELETE THE FACEBOOK APP AND USE YOUR BROWSER INSTEAD.

Facebook on phone browser
iStock

Facebook’s app is one of the biggest battery hogs around, but there’s an easy way to get rid of the app without missing out on your aunt’s latest status update. You can access Facebook from your smartphone’s browser for a nearly identical experience. (You can even get notifications.) For quick access, try bookmarking Facebook.com and setting it as a home screen icon to replace the app.

8. TURN OFF LOCATION TRACKING FOR APPS THAT DON’T NEED IT.

google maps on smartphone
iStock

Some apps (like Google Maps) really do need to know where you are to function, but others (like Facebook) probably don’t. Besides the issue of privacy, turning off location services for apps that don’t need it can help extend your battery life, since your phone won’t be working overtime to track where you are. On an iPhone, just go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services to see which apps are tracking you and toggle off the ones that shouldn’t be. Android offers a similar feature, just head to Settings > Security & Location > Location.

9. TURN OFF BACKGROUND REFRESH.

Hands using phone
iStock

Background app refresh is another potential battery waster to consider, though it’s not the worst offender. This feature lets apps update in the background so they’re ready to go when you need them. That might sound bad but it only happens at ideal times, like when you’re already on Wi-Fi. Still, if you want to disable it just head to Settings > General > Background App Refresh to switch it off. Pulling this off is a little trickier on Android depending on your phone model, but you should be able to find the option by heading to Settings > Data Usage and then poking around.

10. TURN OFF AIRDROP.

iPhone control center
iStock

This one is for iPhones only. Apple’s AirDrop feature is a useful tool for quickly sharing pictures and files with the people around you, but it can be a battery waster too. To turn off AirDrop, just swipe open Apple’s Control Center and tap on it to the feature off. You can also find it in Settings > General > AirDrop.

11. TURN OFF SPOTLIGHT.

woman checking phone
iStock

Another iPhone-only trick for saving battery life is to turn off Spotlight, Apple’s intelligent built-in search. Spotlight tracks your activity to show you the best possible results when you search for something on your phone. That’s useful, but it’s also a battery waster. Turn it off by heading to Settings > General > Spotlight Search. From there, you can uncheck items from a list of activities Spotlight tracks (Apps, Contacts, Music, etc.), or just remove them all.

12. TURN OFF “HEY SIRI” AND “OK GOOGLE” HOTWORDS.

Siri on the phone screen
iStock

Being able to activate your phone’s AI assistant with a voice command is great, but it comes at a price. If your iPhone or Android device is always listening, that means it’s always wasting battery power. To turn off Hey Siri, head to Settings > Siri & Search and then toggle off “Listen for ‘Hey Siri.’” On Android, open the Google app and tap the menu icon in the top left corner. Then select Settings > Voice > “Ok Google” detection. You should see a toggle labeled “‘Say Ok Google’ any time.” Switch it off and you’re done.

13. TURN OFF VISUAL EFFECTS, LIVE WIDGETS, AND LIVE WALLPAPER.

smartphone screen
iStock

Widgets and moving wallpaper are great for sprucing up your smartphone, but they also waste a bunch of battery life. If you’re worried about making it through the day without running out of juice, switch to a simple still background image and delete any widgets that update automatically. On an iPhone, you can also remove any visual effects by heading to Settings > General > Accessibility > Reduce Motion. Android has a similar option for in-app animations, too: Just head to Settings > Developer options and then disable “Window animation scale,” “Transition animation scale,” and “Animator duration scale.”

14. TURN OFF AUTOMATIC APP UPDATES.

Close-up of apps on smartphone
iStock

It’s hard to remember a time before automatic app updates, a time when you had to manually update each app as improvements rolled out. But if you’re serious about extending your battery life, killing those automatic updates may be your best option. Switching off automatic app updates reduces the amount of activity happening in the background on your phone, which means less power is wasted on non-essential actions. To turn it off on your iPhone, head to Settings > iTunes & App Store and then toggle off Updates under Automatic Downloads. On Android, open the Google Play Store and tap on the menu icon in the top left corner. Then, hit Settings > General > Auto-update apps and switch it off.

15. CHECK BATTERY USAGE TO SEE WHICH APPS WASTE THE MOST POWER.

woman checking phone
iStock

Finally, if you’re still not getting enough life out of your smart battery, one power-hogging app may be to blame. You can sniff out the culprit by checking your smartphone’s battery usage and then deleting the worst offenders. On iPhone, head to Settings > Battery and then scroll down to see which apps are using the most power. Android works the same way. Go to Settings > Battery > Battery Usage and you’ll see a list of the apps and services that are wearing down your battery.

Apple Wants to Show Off Your Best Night Mode Photos as Part of a New Campaign

Austin Mann, Apple
Austin Mann, Apple

Calling all aspiring photographers who nabbed an iPhone 11 for the express purpose of trying out its fancy camera capabilities: It’s time for your night mode photos to see the light of day.

As Travel + Leisure reports, Apple is currently hosting a competition to find the best night mode photos taken on an iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, or iPhone 11 Pro Max. You can submit your photos through January 29, after which a carefully selected team of experts will evaluate all submissions and announce the five winning images on March 4.

Judges include Arem Duplessis, the former design director of The New York Times Magazine; Darren Soh, an award-winning photographer from Singapore; Tyler Mitchell, the first black photographer to shoot the cover of American Vogue (his subject, rather memorably, was Beyoncé); and several other esteemed members of the industry.

golden gate bridge shot on iphone 11
The Golden Gate Bridge, shot on an iPhone 11 Pro.
Jude Allen, Apple

In addition to appearing on Apple’s homepage and Instagram (which has more than 21 million followers), the photos could also be featured in digital campaigns, Apple stores, third-party photo exhibitions, or even on physical billboards. In addition to all the exposure, the winners will be paid a licensing fee in exchange for granting the company complete freedom to use their work for one year.

To submit your shots, you can either share them on a public Instagram, Twitter, or Weibo account with the hashtags #ShotoniPhone and #NightmodeChallenge, or email your images to shotoniphone@apple.com—just be sure to title your files in this format: ‘firstname_lastname_nightmode_iPhonemodel.’

If you’re new to the iPhone 11 and aren’t quite sure how to snap photos in night mode, it’s easier than you might realize. The feature comes on automatically in dim or dark places and decides on a capture time for you (which you can always adjust). And if you think editing your photos afterward will increase your chances of winning the competition, that’s fine, too: Apple will accept photos edited in the app or even with non-Apple software.

You might want to avoid capturing the Eiffel Tower after dark, however—here’s why.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

This Smart Speaker Is Designed to Help You Learn Chinese

Maybe
Maybe

This latest in smart speaker technology isn’t designed to turn on your Wi-Fi-connected lights or help you figure out a wine pairing. Lily, a new smart speaker now available on Indiegogo, can help you learn Chinese writing and speaking “faster than anything on the market,” according to its creators.

The voice-controlled gadget is equipped with artificial intelligence that allows it to engage in real-time conversations, so beginning to advanced students can learn to speak the Chinese language Mandarin. It can correct pronunciation, perform translations, and help you learn vocabulary through interactive games, too. It helps you learn to write with an associated app where you can practice using both Pinyin and Chinese characters. Lily’s curriculum can also prepare you for the HSK Chinese proficiency exams necessary to work or study in China.

A Lily speaker conversation illustrated with text bubbles that read 'Hey Lily, how do I introduce myself?' and '你好,你叫什麼名字'
Maybe

Designed by the language-learning company Maybe—which is based in San Francisco and Shenzhen—with Chinese tutors, the AI is engineered to recognize different accents, even if your pronunciation isn’t perfect.

Language learning is all about repetition, and unless you live in an area with a large Chinese population, you may not have much opportunity to practice your Mandarin in everyday life. A smart speaker like Lily can provide the next best thing by creating an immersion environment for you at home, putting it a step ahead of other language-learning apps like DuoLingo.

It’s currently only in the prototype stage, but it’s scheduled to ship by April 2020. As for other languages, the Lily team says that they hope to release software updates in the future that could give the speaker French and Spanish capabilities. (Once you have the speaker, you’ll be able to download any other languages that are released—you won’t have to buy a whole other language-specific speaker.)

The smart speakers start at $229 for early-bird buyers, which may seem like a significant investment, until you start looking at the prices of even a few weeks of private language classes. Get yourself one on Indiegogo. And don't worry about it matching your home decor—it comes in red, white, black, blue, teal, and pink.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER