This holiday season, your smartphone is going to be an important companion. The GPS will guide you over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house, comparison-shopping apps will help you check if that Black Friday deal is really all it’s cracked up to be, mophie will keep your phone alive through epic calls with family across the world, and a few rounds of Fruit Ninja will distract you from Aunt Edna’s probing questions about your love life.
Since you’ll be asking a lot of your pocket computer, you’ll want to stretch your battery life as far as possible to avoid begging store owners to let you plug in behind the counter. Here are a few tips for maximizing time between charges.
These extra functions can really chew through the battery, GPS in particular. Everything from Facebook to the Camera app wants to use your location data, so if you aren’t specifically using an app that needs location services, shut it down. On iOS 7, flip the Location Services slider in Settings > Privacy, on Android use the toggles on the pulldown menu.
If you’re visiting family on a farm in the middle of nowhere, your phone will work overtime to try to acquire a signal. The added transmission power needed to reach a far-off cell tower, coupled with the phone constantly looking for a better signal, will wreak havoc on your battery life. If it looks like your phone’s sitting at one to two bars and you don’t need to call or text, put it into airplane mode — this will turn off the cell radio and keep the battery alive a little longer.
That big, beautiful screen is a battery destroyer. Many newer phones have an ambient light sensor that tries to automatically adjust the screen to your conditions, but it usually ends up too bright. Shut it off and turn down the brightness if you’re in a bind — a little squinting is a worthwhile trade-off for that last bit of power, especially when you’re trying to snap a photo of your niece opening her presents.
Apps, particularly email programs, love to push updates in the background, meaning your device is frequently using the cell radio to grab data even if you don’t explicitly ask it to. Your coupon deal notifications and dubious offers of money from deposed royalty overseas don’t need immediate attention, so switch email and app updates to ‘Manual’ and go get them when you’re already plugged in.
Even the best need a little outside help sometimes. Battery-case combos, like the cleverly-designed mophie juice pack air, provide protection as well as a little extra oomph to get through a long car trip or coordinate surgical shopping strikes. In exchange for a little extra weight, the cases can double your phone’s battery life: just flip the switch when your device’s battery is running a little low to top it off. Because of how your phone’s lithium-ion battery works, activate the backup when you see it drop to about 20%, then switch it off when it hits 80%. Between 0-20% and 80-100% take a lot more power to charge, so just using it for a boost will give you the best results.
And after all the shopping, driving, and coordinating are done, the best way to extend your phone’s battery is to turn it off, throw it in your bag, and be where your feet are. Enjoy food, drink, and being with loved ones during the time of year that’s about family and friends.
Unfortunately, we live in communication-reliant times where shutting down isn't so easy. To learn more about keeping your battery alive with the help of mophie, head here.
Justin Levinson is the Online Editor at Makeshift. He's also an expert on the future of work.