Your smartphone battery is the subject of many myths and much misinformation. But even though we know that there are some easy ways to make our phone batteries last longer and get more out of a single charge, we still find ourselves panicking over a dying smartphone more often than we’d like to admit.
We’ve all been there. You use your smartphone to find the quickest route to the office in the morning. You text with your friends all morning, exchanging GIFs and emoji and photos of your cats. Then you use an app to scout out a great spot for lunch, scroll through Snapchat while you’re eating your food, and check out the options for your after-work plans. After you leave the office, listen to a podcast on the subway, and exchange a dozen texts to make plans with friends, you’ve realized that there’s no way that your phone is going to make it.
You probably already know that you can preserve what’s left of your smartphone’s battery by turning off background app activity, avoiding resource-intensive apps, or even enabling a low power mode. But what are the things you shouldn’t do if your phone battery is dying? Read on to find out.
1. Turning the brightness up
Maybe you had the screen brightness turned down in the office, and just stepped out into an unexpectedly bright late afternoon. But if you’ve already noticed that your phone battery is dying, one of the worst things that you can do is to crank up the screen brightness. Sure, you’ll be able to more easily watch your phone counting down percentages of battery life if you make the screen brighter. But a bright screen is a major battery drain, so keep it as dim as possible if you want the battery to last.
2. Playing a resource-intensive game
We get it: Even if your phone is dying, you need something to occupy you on that monotonous subway ride home or while you wait in line for an afternoon pick-me-up Starbucks. But do yourself a favor and opt for something a little less resource-intensive than Minecraft or Pokémon GO if you need a distraction. Apps and games that are heavy on the audio, video, and animation will drain your battery much more quickly than an app that’s mostly text. Consider catching up on news stories before opening a game or looking at Twitter before loading YouTube. Better still, plug in headphones, and listen to music or an audio book stored on your phone, and turn the screen off and turn airplane mode on.
3. Using location-dependent apps
Sometimes, you need to know how to get from point A to point B, even when your phone is dying. But if you can help it, avoid using location services and location-dependent apps when your phone is already on its last legs. Instead of searching for the nearest Starbucks so you can plug your phone in, take a quick walk around the block to see if you can locate it yourself. Instead of keeping your navigation app on as you locate your subway stop and wait for your train, just pull up the information you need, make a mental note of it, and close the app. Or, if you need turn-by-turn directions, request them, screenshot the route, and close the app. Having a navigation app tracking your location will only kill your battery faster, so do your best to minimize your use of them when your phone battery is already dying.
4. Keeping your Wi-Fi on
Every time you have your phone’s Wi-Fi turned on, your device is searching for a network to connect to. So if your phone battery is dying and you still need to run some errands or make the commute home, turn off Wi-Fi. Letting your phone constantly search for a Wi-Fi network can be a big battery drain, so turn it on only when you actually need it instead of walking around with it always enabled. Similarly, if you know you’ll be somewhere without service, like the subway, you can switch your phone onto airplane mode to prevent it from searching for a signal you know it’s not going to find.
5. Getting tons of notifications and alerts
You don’t have to put your phone on airplane mode if you need to save battery (though it would definitely help the cause, whether you’re headed into the subway or not, to avoid calls and texts, and silence the distractions of the web). But if you aren’t turning airplane mode on, you should make sure that you won’t be inundated with notifications and alerts, which will light up your screen and drain your battery faster. Make sure that you’ve enabled push notifications only for the apps that are actually important, so that your efforts to save your phone battery aren’t sabotaged by constant alerts.
6. Forgetting to check on what your apps are doing
Sometimes, your phone is dying because you’ve been a little too enthusiastic about your favorite games or messaging apps in a given day. But other times, there’s a buggy app that’s working too hard in the background or an app that’s simply checking for updates all day without your knowledge. Always remember to check out what’s going on with your apps to determine whether there’s something wrong. Check out which apps are using the most battery power, and make sure that you enable background activity only for the apps that have a real reason to need it.
7. Panicking about your phone dying
Whatever you do, there’s no need to panic when you realize that your phone is going to die. Sending out a half-dozen texts altering your friends to the fact that your battery is almost depleted will just further drain your phone, and manically closing apps, checking settings, and messing with your phone won’t make the situation any better. If you really can’t be without your phone, find a charger, buy a portable battery pack, or locate a charging station. Your phone may die, but it won’t be the end of the world. We promise.