iPhone Battery Saving Tips

Smartphones are a part of the overall emergency response.

iPhone Battery Saving Tips
By: Yesenia Salcedo

Cell phones have come a long way from being tucked away somewhere in a car or a work bag and only being used for emergencies. Today, they are practically glued to our hands and almost never leave our sight. With smartphones bringing the Internet to your pocket, and with iPhones also serving as iPods—cell phone batteries have a big job to live up to.

Smartphones like the iPhone are very likely always turned “on” and you probably use it frequently. Whether you are checking e-mail, accessing a map, or making a call, you are using up major battery power that you might need for an actual emergency. I have to charge my iPhone at least once a day. And although I always have access to a charger (home, office, car, battery pack protective case), I still always want to make each charge last as long as I possibly can.

According to Apple, the iPhone5 offers up to eight hours of talk time on 3G, eight hours of Internet use on 3G, 10 hours of Internet use on Wi-Fi, 10 hours of video playback, or 40 hours of audio playback on a full charge at original capacity.

In addition, iPhone5 features up to 225 hours of standby time. Of course, actual results vary for every user. Awareness of how you use your iPhone and knowing how long your battery typically lasts can help you improve its life. Here are a few tips to help you make each charge last a little longer.

Constant Search for Network

Although you may never think about it, if you are on a plane, or in an area where there is no cellular coverage for that matter, the iPhone will boost its signal searching for a tower. Since your iPhone always tries to maintain a connection with the cellular network, it will use more power in low- or no-coverage areas. This desperate attempt to connect uses a lot of power for nothing.

Yet the iPhone will continue to use more and more power to connect—and continue the effort to connect until the battery is dead. You can set your iPhone to airplane mode to increase battery life (Settings > Airplane Mode > On). Turning on Airplane Mode can increase battery life in these situations—however, you will be unable to make or receive calls. Of course, with no or poor coverage, you wouldn’t make calls, but you could still text. Airplane Mode shuts down the send/receive text ability, too.

Wi-Fi Service

Turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when you are not using it. Everyone knows that using Wi-Fi drains your iPhone’s battery, but most people aren’t aware that one of the most intensive processes that iPhone’s Wi-Fi chip has to do is search for an available network. So if this happens in regular intervals, it’s going to have a noticeable impact on your battery. Disabling this feature will increase your battery life noticeably (Settings> Wi-Fi > select “Off” on the “Ask to Join Networks” option to disable it).

Note that by disabling this feature, your iPhone will join known Wi-Fi networks automatically, but you will have to manually select a network if no known networks are available. While it can be convenient to leave these on, and Wi-Fi assists in location detection, they are also both massive idle battery drains because they are constantly scanning in the background. Disable both of these features when not using them (Settings >  Bluetooth > Off; Settings > Wi-Fi > Off). 

Notify Not

Turn off Notifications and reduce background data usage. Getting a lot of notifications can greatly drain battery life as the screen constantly turns—not to mention that the device is constantly polling the Apple servers for notifications. While there is no easy way in iOS6 to turn off all notifications, at least turning off certain applications’ notifications can help.

To disable push notifications, go to Settings > Notifications and select the application you want to disable. You should note that this does not prevent new data from being received when the application is opened. Also, the Notifications setting will not be visible if you do not have any applications installed that support push notifications.

Notify Manually

If you don’t want to turn off all of your notifications, at least change your settings to “manually” or “fetch” new data less frequently. Applications such as Mail can be set to fetch data wirelessly at specific intervals. The more frequently e-mail or other data is fetched, the quicker your battery may drain. To fetch new data manually go to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars  > Fetch New Data > select Every 15, 30, 60 minutes or Manually.

Dim the Screen

Dimming the screen helps to extend battery life. You can either lower the default screen brightness based on your preference or turn on Auto Brightness to allow the screen to adjust its brightness based on current lighting conditions (Settings > Brightness & Wallpaper > Auto-Brightness > On).

LTE or Not LTE

If you have an iPhone5, turn off LTE if it is not available in your area (Settings > General-> Cellular > Enable/Disable LTE).

GPS Location Services

Social media addicts—you know who you are. You have 10 social media apps like Facebook and Twitter that you are always using and you have enabled Location Services for all of them. Anything using GPS to find your location is a major battery drainer. Turn off (or only use when needed) Location Services for all of your apps (Settings > Privacy > Location Services > then toggle through the ones where you want to turn that service “Off”).

Update iOS

Apple recommends that you always update to the latest software because engineers may find new ways to optimize battery performance. If your iPhone is running iOS5 or later, you can wirelessly update it to the latest version by going to Settings>General>Software Update, then follow the onscreen instructions.

You also can update your iPhone’s software through the latest version of iTunes by connecting your iPhone to your computer. Select your iPhone from the top-right corner (beneath the search bar). In the Summary pane, click “Check for Updates” to see if there’s a new version of the iPhone software available. Click Update to install the latest version, which is currently 6.1.3.

Lock the Screen

It may seem obvious, but you should lock your iPhone when you aren’t using it. You will be able to receive calls and text messages while it is locked, but nothing happens if you touch the screen (Settings app > General > Auto Lock > select 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 minutes).

Charge Regularly

Use your iPhone regularly and charge it regularly. For proper maintenance of a lithium-based battery, it is important to keep the electrons in it moving. Be sure to go through at least one charge cycle per month (charging the battery to 100 percent and then completely running it down).

Heat Kills

Also, charging your iPhone while in certain carrying cases may generate excess heat, which can affect battery capacity. If you notice that your iPhone gets hot when you charge it, take it out of its case first. Heat can degrade performance of your iPhone’s battery. So it is important to keep the iPhone out of the sun or a hot car—including the glove box.

External Battery

If all else fails, just buy an external battery to increase the time you can go between charges—there is a plethora of battery charging cases for the iPhone4 and iPhone5 from which to choose. (See Mophie Juice Pack Pro at www.hendonpub.com, Resources, Article Archives.)

Keep these tips in mind and see if you can make it through the day with only charging your iPhone once. Or even try to go more than 24 hours without plugging it in—it’s possible.

Yesenia Salcedo is a technical editor for LAW and ORDER and Tactical Response magazines. She can be reached at senny_x@yahoo.com.

Published in Law and Order, Sep 2013

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