Despite rapid advancements in mobile technology in the past decade, there’s a good chance you’ve been caught in a situation where you wish you had a little extra battery life.
That’s not to say batteries haven’t improved. But as technology improves, it demands more of batteries and as a result, battery life has stayed mostly the same.
The batteries we use in phones, tablets, laptops, and just about any other rechargeable device were invented in the late 90s. But they’re still the most efficient option available.
So if you’re looking to get the most out of your battery, these tips offer simple ways to both reduce battery drain and extend the life of your battery.
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for 2020
Why Batteries Drain
While most of today’s phones include power saving features designed to help minimize battery drain when the phone is idle, many still struggle to reach the end of the day with a charge remaining.
Everything that happens when your phone is on will impact the battery…
But what are the big causes of battery drain?
Culprits typically include:
Apps with greedy permissions
Operating system (OS) and app updates
Data- or graphics-intensive apps
Background data and processor use
So to reduce battery drain, your best bet is to minimize the things your phone is trying to do at any given time.
Not sure how? Keep reading...
14 Tips to Keep Your Battery Running Longer
Always find your battery running low just when you need it most?
This list includes some of the most common ways you can avoid draining your battery and ensure your phone is ready to
go next time you need directions, you’re waiting on that important call, or you want to squeeze in one more round of
your favorite game.
Optimize Your Screen Brightness
The backlight on your phone’s display is one of the biggest reasons for a battery draining fast.
You’ll see that most online reviews test batteries with screens around 50% brightness. This is the sweet spot on a lot of displays between visibility and battery use.
There’s a good chance that your phone includes an auto-brightness setting. This uses a sensor on the front of your phone to adjust the brightness of the screen based on your surroundings.
Keeping your phone on the lowest brightness will yield the most battery life.
But if you don’t feel like changing brightness every time you go outside or into a brightly lit room -- or you don’t want to be blinded when you check your phone in the middle of the night -- the auto setting can help.
Disable Your Phone’s Vibration
Every time your phone’s vibration motor goes off, it sucks a little off your battery. In terms of battery life, a quiet ringtone is far better than a vibration.
The same is true for haptic feedback -- those tiny vibrations made when touching your screen or pushing buttons on your phone.
Most phones will allow you to set vibration settings both when the ringer is turned on and when it is muted. Set both to off for maximum battery savings.
For haptic feedback, you typically cannot adjust the vibration strength. It’s either on or off. So disabling it is the best option.
Limit Data and Wi-Fi Use
While faster mobile data speeds make it quicker to browse the web, stream video, or download new apps, that speed comes at the cost of battery life.
Your phone has to process all the information coming in and out of your phone. So the less data you can use, the longer your battery will last.
If you absolutely must download a file or transfer large files, doing so over Wi-Fi can save over using mobile data. But in most cases, wait until you’re near a charger before doing any serious data transferring -- such as updating apps or binging on your favorite TV series.
Use Airplane Mode When in Areas with Weak Signal Strength
Weak signal strength isn’t just frustrating for you, it also causes your phone to search constantly for a better signal.
The result is faster battery drain.
If you’re in an area with spotty reception, enabling airplane mode will stop your phone from looking for a better connection and save you some serious battery life until you can get to a better coverage area.
Disable Features When Not in Use
GPS location, Bluetooth, and fast mobile data are all convenient when you need them. But if you’re not using them, they’re just chipping away at your battery.
Not to mention that leaving location services enabled might mean your apps are collecting information about where you are and what you’re doing all day.
Bluetooth has had a few vulnerability scares recently as well. So unless you’re connecting to a wireless speaker or other accessory, it’s best to just leave it off.
Lower Your Ringtone and Speaker Volumes
Increasing volume requires increased power to your speakers or headphones. So if you’re looking for a simple way to save battery life, lowering the volume can help.
If you’re struggling to hear a call or a video in a noisy environment, Bluetooth headphones can help provide a better listening experience without having to crank up the volume.
Skip Those Fancy Screensavers and Wallpapers
While they add visual pop to your phone, those fancy animated backgrounds or pretty screensavers run every time you activate your screen. In the case of screen savers, they may even prevent the screen from ever turning off.
This means your phone’s battery never gets a rest -- and your battery life will show it.
Keep Calls Short (And Video Calls Shorter)
While calls might seem like one of the more basic features of your phone, they use many different parts of the phone to work smoothly. You’re using the microphones, the data connection, the speakers and -- with video calls -- the cameras.
If you need to ensure your phone’s battery lasts until a specific time and you’re running low, switching to text messaging can help squeeze that extra bit of life out of your phone.
Use the Built-In Power Saving Options
Most phones now offer a range of power-saving settings. Even the most basic phones often offer a toggle for turning power saving on and off -- though you won’t find many ways to tweak the options to your liking.
On more high-end devices, you’ll often find a full range of power-saving modes that allow you to choose a balance of reduced performance and features and power savings.
Some of the most extreme options turn your phone into a basic phone but can make a single charge last for days.
Wrangle Those Notifications
Every time a notification comes through, your phone must process the information. Then, depending on your notification settings, it might play a sound, vibrate your phone, or even turn your display on to get your attention.
Both Android and iOS offer full control over notifications.
By disabling notifications for any non-essential apps -- like those games you love to play or that video streaming service that tells you about every new release -- you can trim your battery usage and reduce distractions. Sounds like a win-win to us.
Tame Those Apps
Many apps use background data to keep track of updates and send data back to their developers.
While it’s nice to know immediately when you get an email or your friend’s post pictures of tonight’s dinner on Instagram, it could cost you some serious battery life -- especially if you have a busy inbox or lots of social media connections.
Disabling background data or syncing for these apps stops them from constantly chipping away at your data allotment and battery life.
Reduce Your Screen Timeout
Even when you adjust your brightness, having your screen on has a major impact on power usage. If your phone sits idle for long periods with the display on, that’s wasted battery life.
Check in the display settings to set a reasonable time based on how you use your phone or tablet.
For most people, 30 seconds to 1 minute is plenty of time. But if you’re using your to read or display recipes while you cook, you can always bump it up to something a little longer.
Just don’t forget to lower it again when you’re done.
Keep Up With Your Updates
While some app updates add a shiny new feature or something big, the majority of updates are bug fixes.
If your battery suddenly starts losing battery life fast -- and you haven’t installed anything new recently -- you might find an update will fix the issue.
Just Turn the Phone Off When You Don’t Need It
Finally, the best way to make sure your phone is available when you need it is to turn it off when you don’t need it.
Not to mention, with your phone off, you’re less likely to spend hours watching Vine compilations on YouTube, browsing recipes on Pinterest, or playing games until the wee hours of the night.
Phone Charging Myths Debunked: How to Really Protect the Long-Term Health of Your Battery
Your battery creates energy using a chemical reaction. When the reaction goes one way, the battery stores energy. Reverse the reaction, and it releases energy powering your device.
Lithium-ion (LI-ION) batteries are the most common battery type used in mobile phones and tablets today.
These use a series of thin films and an electrolyte to create the reactions needed. Over time -- and through routine use -- these parts degrade and battery capacity drops.
So in some ways, your phone battery losing capacity is inevitable...
In fact, most are good for about three to five years before things head downhill no matter how well you take care of them.
But over time, a lot of myths have appeared about keeping your battery running better for longer. Most of these involve older battery types and simply aren’t true anymore.
Myth #1: Always Deplete Your Battery Before Charging
Early forms of rechargeable batteries had a trait which people referred to as a memory.
If you didn’t fully discharge and then fully recharge your battery from time to time, capacity suffered in a big way.
With the lithium-ion batteries used in today’s phones and tablets, this is no longer a concern. Charge as little or as much as you’d like.
In fact, most lithium-ion batteries last longer if you don’t discharge them all the way. So the moment you hit 25% or so, go find a charger.
Myth #2: Always Charge Your Battery to Full
This is another throw-back to older battery types. Newer lithium-ion batteries aren’t as picky.
In fact, many experts recommend only charging your battery to 80% or so if you can. This can extend the life of your battery and keep capacity higher for longer.
But if you can only spare 15 minutes to charge your phone, a quick extra 15% or 25% here or there will not hurt anything.
Myth #3: Leaving Your Phone to Charge Overnight is Dangerous
This one is more complicated. Technically, if you overcharge or overheat a lithium-ion battery, it will burst into flames -- as seen in the 2017 recall of Samsung’s Note 7 phone.
But, when properly designed, all lithium-ion batteries include safeties -- such as a charge controllers and voltage limiters -- to help keep things nice and cool no matter how long you charge your phone.
Many phones also now use software to change how quickly the battery charges. Manufacturers often call this fast charging.
Essentially, it charges the battery faster when your battery is low then slows things down to a trickle as the battery fills. The added perk is that you’re not hammering your battery if you leave it on the charger all night.
Sure -- it’s more energy efficient to charge your phone to full and disconnect it. But in the vast majority of cases, it’s not any more dangerous to leave your phone on the charger overnight while you sleep.
Myth #4: Any Charger Will Do The Job
In the early days of phones, it was all about finding a charger with the right adapter.
These days, most phones use micro USB. But that doesn’t mean you should hook just any charger to your phone.
Many cheaper off-brand chargers are low amp chargers. This means your phone will take forever to charge.
Worse still, cheap chargers could damage your phone or void your warranty.
And if your phone supports fast charging, you might need a special charger which supports the same charging standard -- even if the power ratings match.
So in most cases, it’s best to stick to chargers from your manufacturer or carrier to ensure optimal results.
If you must use a third-party accessory, consider a charger one from a reputable company such as Anker. They might cost a little more than the ultra-cheap options… but you’ll get your money’s worth in reliability and performance.
Myth #5: Don’t Use Your Phone While It’s Charging
As long as your charger and USB cable is of decent quality and they are not damaged, it’s perfectly safe to use your phone while charging it.
We’d recommend picking up a longer charge cable if you charge and talk often because it can be awkward with a shorter cable. But otherwise, there is little to worry about.
Just keep in mind that your phone will charge slower if you’re playing high-end games or streaming video while you charge.
Does closing background apps help save battery life?
As odd as it might sound… no.
Once considered one of the leading ways to save battery life, both Apple and Google have spoke out against closing all your apps constantly.
Everytime you close an app completely, your phone must relaunch it completely. So with the optimizations in the newer version of Android and iOS, it’s often far better for your battery to let them idle in the background doing nothing.
The details are more technical than that though. So if you’d like a deeper dive into things, check out this great article from Wired.
Should I let my phone battery die before charging the first time?
There’s no need to do this anymore. It’s a tip recommended for older batteries but is no longer true today. The moment you get your new phone, plug it in and let it charge as soon as you want.
At what percentage should I charge my phone?
Experts recommend letting your phone’s battery dip to between 25% and 40% before charging to get the most out of your battery. While letting it die completely won’t drastically shorten battery life, it stresses the battery so you will see an impact over years of owning the phone.
Does airplane mode save battery?
Most definitely. But it also disables a wide range of features -- including mobile data, Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth -- on your phone. So while it’s handy for saving your battery, don’t use it if you’re expecting an important call, email, or message.
What should I do if my phone battery is draining fast?
If you’re playing games or streaming HD video, that’s probably the culprit. Reducing graphics settings can help if the app allows, but this isn’t always an option.
If you’re in an area with a weak signal, setting your phone to airplane mode can help until you’re in a spot with better reception. This will stop your phone for constantly searching for a better signal.
If it’s been a while since you’ve rebooted your phone and you’re not doing anything when battery life plunges, setting things straight might be as simple as a quick reboot.
How can I tell which app is draining my battery?
Both Android and iOS have battery meters to break down what is using the most battery over a certain period -- often since your last full recharge.
If your iPhone or iPad battery is draining fast, just tap Settings then Battery and look at the list provided.
This will highlight any major offenders and give you ideas of what you remove, disable, or stop using so much to keep your battery fuller for longer.
If your Android battery is draining fast, just tap Settings, then Device, followed by Battery. You’ll then see a list of apps sorted from most battery use to least.
If you feel like your battery life is getting shorter on your phone, you have a few places you can check to see what’s going on.
Batteries typically last between three to five years. So unless your phone is old, there are likely a few steps you can take to help reduce the amount of power the features and apps on your phone consume.
Have a newer phone? Following safe charging methods and using reputable chargers will ensure your battery remains
healthy for years to come.
P.S. If you’ve done everything listed here and still don’t have enough battery life, that doesn’t mean you have to run out and drop a huge sum on a new phone. External battery packs are an excellent way to keep hours of additional battery life in your pocket. Our battery pack reviews compile information from leading sources across the web to help you find the best options for your needs and budget.
Disclosure: You should know that in some cases, we may receive a referral fee (at no additional cost to you) for products purchased through the links on our site. These links help support our work but they do not influence our content. Our editorial recommendations are always genuine and we try to feature only the best products and services. Why trust us?