15 Easy Ways To Extend Your Phone’s Battery Life

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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
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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.

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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 ...

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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
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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.

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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
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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
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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.

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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
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

10 Simple Tricks for Charging Your Smartphone Faster

Makidotvn, iStock via Getty Images
Makidotvn, iStock via Getty Images

Smartphones always seem to reach low power at the least convenient moments possible. If you've ever urged your device to charge faster in the minutes before a phone interview or when you're about to board a plane, you can relate. While the easiest way to avoid this scenario is to plug in your device before the battery dips into the danger zone, if you've already reached this point, there are simple ways to speed up the charging process.

Some hacks for charging a phone faster involve steps you can take in anticipation of the next time you're surviving on minimum energy. Certain gadgets, like special chargers and battery packs, will power-up your device more efficiently than others. For moments when your phone is dying and all you have is your regular charging cable, adjusting your phone's settings to minimize the power it consumes also works in a pinch.

You can find some specific ways to charge your phone quickly below: 

  1. Plug it into a wall outlet instead of a USB port.
  1. Use a portable battery pack.
  1. Buy a special "fast" phone charger.
  1. Switch to low power mode.
  1. Switch to airplane mode.
  1. Let your phone drain completely on its own once a month to the extend the battery life.
  1. Close any background apps.
  1. Stop automatic app updates.
  1. Don't check your phone while it's charging
  1. Keep your phone out of the heat.

For more tricks for making your phone usage more efficient, check out these tips for typing faster.

Does Pushing the Button at a Crosswalk Actually Do Anything?

Pressing this crosswalk button may or may not do something.
Pressing this crosswalk button may or may not do something.
David Tran/iStock via Getty Images

Since crosswalk signals rarely seem to give you the green light (or more accurately, the white, human-shaped light) right after you press the button, you may find yourself wondering if those buttons actually work. The potentially exasperating answer is this: It depends.

First and foremost, it’s important to understand that crosswalk buttons aren’t designed to have an immediate effect; they’re just supposed to tell the system that a person is waiting to cross. As CityLab explained, some systems won’t ever give pedestrians the crossing signal unless someone has pressed the button, while others are programmed to shorten the wait time for walkers when the button has been pressed. No matter what, the system still has to cycle through its other phases to give cars enough time to pass through the intersection, so you’ll probably still have to stand there for a moment.

During busy traffic times or under other extenuating circumstances, however, cities can switch the system to what’s known as “recall mode,” when pedestrian crossings are part of the cycle already and pressing the button quite literally changes nothing. Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell if a particular button is in recall mode, short of calling your city officials and asking an expert to come inspect it.

But if you feel like a button isn’t doing anything, there’s a pretty good chance it’s been permanently deactivated. As congestion has increased and the systems to manage it have become more advanced over the years, cities have moved away from using crosswalk buttons at all. In 2018, for example, CNN reported that only around 100 of New York City’s 1000 buttons were still functioning. Since actually removing the buttons from crosswalks would be a costly endeavor, cities have opted to leave them intact, just waiting to be pummeled by impatient pedestrians who don’t know any better.

What about 'close door' buttons on elevators, you ask? That depends, too.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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