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Smartphone user with phoneOur phones are basically tethered to us. We use Alexander Graham Bell’s invention for so much more than calling these days. It’s really part phone, part messaging device and a whole lot of portable computer.

All the apps and multimedia features we use now can take a big toll on battery life, but when you’re on the go, you don’t want to be chained to an outlet with your phone charger. You could wear one of those fashionable wrist charging bracelets – I think I can pull off that look – but they don’t appeal to everyone.

Here are some tips to help you save your smartphone battery.

Figure Out What’s Draining It

This sounds obvious, but many users don’t realize they can see exactly which apps are putting the most strain on their battery. Let’s take a look.

On the iPhone, you can find these battery indicators by going to Settings >General >Usage >Battery usage. When you get there, you should see a screen that looks like this.

iOS battery life

This is my personal phone. I know there’s no way the home and lock screen could possibly be accounting for 28% of my battery usage. Like most people, I only look at these screens when switching between apps. I think this is the iPhone’s catchall for power that’s being taken up by the display and the system itself.

On Android, you access this menu by going to Settings >Battery. In addition to apps, Android has much more visibility into power usage by the actual operating system and display.

Android screenshot

On Windows Phone, by going to Settings >Battery saver, you can check out which apps are using the most power and tweak the battery settings.

In any case, your phone will show you which apps are taking up the most juice. In my case, some of the apps make sense. I spend more time every night than I care to admit in Facebook Messenger. What doesn’t make sense is YouTube making the list. The night before this screenshot was taken, I had spent a grand total of four minutes in YouTube looking up a song reference. Video is a bit of a lift for your phone apparently.

Games also tend to put stress on the computer and graphics chips in your phone. This means they tend to eat battery power for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Closing Out Apps

Once you’ve found the offending app, you can close it. Just exiting the app and going back to your home screen doesn’t get it done. The apps still run in the background.

To close apps in iOS, quickly tap the home button twice. This will bring up a menu with the screens of all the apps currently running. In order to quit an app, simply drag the screen up and flick it away.

In Android, bring up your recent apps gallery. Unfortunately, this may be in different places on different phones, but check the bottom of your screen. You should be able to tap and hold an application and swipe to the right to force it to quit. You can also stop processes by going to the apps tab in Settings.

Windows Phone probably has the easiest process for this. To close an app, you just press the back button. Pressing the Windows button causes the app to be dormant but not closed. To close dormant apps, simply hold down the back button and swipe the app down off the screen.

Turn Down Brightness

Turn down for what? To save battery power, of course.

The single biggest power sucker on your phone is probably the display. Turning the brightness down and changing the amount of time it takes for your phone to shut the screen off will help you save battery if you get in a bind.

Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Tips

Phone manufacturers realize you don’t want to burn through your data plan. Therefore, there’s often a feature turned on that searches for public Wi-Fi networks. Unfortunately, the constant scanning in between networks can really drain your battery. If this is a concern, you’ll want to go into your Wi-Fi settings and make sure your phone only joins networks that you’ve already been on or searches for networks only when you ask.

You can also turn off Bluetooth to save battery if you don’t use it.

Location Services

All the major phone platforms allow you to restrict which apps can ask for and report on your phone’s location. In addition to the potential privacy implications, the reporting on location requires constantly accessing the GPS, which will drain your battery quickly if you’re not careful. While it makes total sense for your map program to have access to your location, your friends don’t necessarily need to know where you are when you use Facebook Messenger.

Sink the Sync

All the major smartphones are constantly syncing information for backup and other purposes. Set it up so that your phone only does this when you’re ready or when you prompt it to do so.

The bottom line with a lot of these strategies is that the fewer connections you have to maintain with your phone, the better the battery life will be.

What’s the longest you’ve been able to go without charging your phone? Any tips for our readers on how to squeeze more juice out of a dying handset? Share them with us in the comments.

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