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6 easy ways to extend the battery life of your smartphone

Photo courtesy of Samsung

by Marc Saltzman

Summer is in full swing, and the last thing you want is for your smartphone to conk out before you do.

This is especially true if you rely on your mobile device for keeping in touch with those who matter; capturing photos and videos with friends and family; navigating city streets; calculating your steps and estimated calories burned; and keeping you entertained with music, videos, games and ebooks.

In other words, your phone has evolved into a digital Swiss Army Knife, of sorts — but the more these devices can do, the more pressure it puts on the battery.

Regardless of the brand of phone you’ve got, consider these tips for squeezing more life from it between charges.

1. Adjust screen brightness and time-out

Dimming your screen is the best thing you can do to prolong your phone’s battery.

You don’t need the brightness cranked all the way up, as it’s a massive battery drain. Try to reduce the brightness down to about half, or even one-third. You’ll get used to it.

Once you’ve made the change, you should also set your screen to turn off after a few seconds of inactivity. After all, if you’re not looking at your screen, there’s no reason for it to be on. Reduce the time it takes to turn off after it’s left idle by going into your Display or Power settings (depending on your operating system).

2. Reduce wireless features

If you’re not using them, disable as many of your smartphone’s wireless radios, such as GPS, Bluetooth, NFC (near-field communication), and Wi-Fi. These can be found in the Settings area of your phone. If you have an iPhone you can also find them by swiping up from the bottom of the screen, while Android users can swipe down from the top.

On a related note, unless you need to use your device while it’s charging up, turning on Airplane Mode — which disables all radios, including cellular access — will make your phone charge faster.

3. Turn off push notifications

You can also save your phone’s battery by disabling or at least reducing “push” notifications for all your apps. Push notifications include things like email alerts the moment a message arrives in your inbox, sports apps that deliver real-time scores, or Instagram notifications for whenever someone comments on your pics. For you to get this info in real-time, your phone needs to constantly “ping” a server, which can drain the battery.

4. Be app savvy

Your smartphone’s battery will drain faster if you’re using apps that are more demanding on the system’s resources such as streaming Netflix, using Google Maps, playing an online game or shooting 4K video versus less taxing tasks, such as typing notes or reading an ebook. Multitasking, such as listening to a podcast while browsing the web, can also contribute to faster battery drain.

Contrary to popular belief, background apps don’t contribute to battery drain much at all. In other words, all of that swiping you do to close them won’t actually extend the life of your device between charges.

5. Enable power-saving mode

While you might not know your phone has this feature, many new devices — including the iPhone 6S, Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, HTC 10, LG G5, and Moto G — offer some form of power-saving mode accessible via their settings menus. Power-saving mode often turns a phone’s screen to black and white, darkens the display, and turns off non-essential wireless features to reduce battery drain.

6. Keep a spare battery pack

While it can be a bit of a pain, you’re better off carrying a portable battery pack with you so you don’t have to hunt for an electrical outlet like those miserable-looking “wall huggers” at the airport.

Battery packs can range in price anywhere from $10 to $100. The larger the battery the more times it can charge a smartphone without needing to be recharged itself. The smaller, less expensive models can usually charge your phone once before needing to be charged. It’s a trade-off, so buy what’s best for you.

Some smartphone cases have a built-in battery, but that adds bulk and weight, even when you don’t need a boost. A few smartphones let you swap out the battery, so buying a spare isn’t a bad idea.