Smartphone battery life: 20 ways to juice it up

Smartphones perform more tricks than ever, but battery technology hasn't kept up. Try these tips to keep your phone powered up for longer.

Manage your software

Many of us are loyal to a specific mobile operating system. And applications make your smartphone useful and fun. But both the operating system and the applications drain the battery, so manage them so they sip, not gulp, power.

5. Update your operating system. "The biggest battery drain is the operating system," notes Kristi Lundgren, Motorola's product manager for the company's Q smartphone. She said that vendors tend to improve power consumption from version to version, so update when you can.

6. Use simple ringtones. "Musical ringtones use the phone's processor, which uses more battery," says Derek Meister, who has the title of double agent with Best Buy's Geek Squad. Simpler, standard ringtones don't require such processing power.

7. Push less. Perhaps the most popular smartphone application is push e-mail, which requires your device to check for messages nearly constantly. That guzzles juice, but settings are available on the server side (you'll need to talk with IT) and, often, on the phone itself that enable your phone to check for messages, say, only every 10 minutes or half hour. Admittedly, this will require an adjustment for those who are used to constant communications, but it's worth it in terms of battery savings.

Besides push e-mail, many other applications and Web services such as instant messaging, navigation tools and stock, news, sports and weather checkers periodically update information. "You may not realize that ESPN, if it's set to update every five minutes, will drain your battery," says Motorola's Lundgren. Close these apps and sites when you're not using them.

8. Ease off alerts. Do you really need your phone to vibrate when any old message comes in? Turn off visual or audible alerts for newly arrived messages or, at the very least, be selective so you are notified of messages from only your boss or spouse, for instance.

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