So, you have that shiny new iPhone 3G or iPhone 3GS, and you’ve enjoyed playing with all of the really cool new features. You now have it all spec’d out with the killer apps that makes your life easier (and perhaps more fun), and you feel confident with the pocket power you now possess.
But somehow along the way your pocket power is, well, running out of power. Yes, your iPhone has now introduced you to the Kryptonite of the iPhone (and all mobile devices for that matter) – iDrain. The iPhone, thanks to its expanded capabilities, gets used more – and this additional use over a standard cell phone leads to faster battery depletion.
But fear not. There are steps to take that will prolong the run time for your iPhone, allowing you to have your cake and look it up on the web too. While some power saving tips are common sense (don’t browse the web and/or talk all day long), some things could easily be overlooked. So, as a service to our readers, we present a list of tips to help the road warrior in all of us get the most out of an iPhone charge.
1. Turn down the screen brightness. The iPhone has a nice, bright screen, but driving that backlight takes battery power. I usually keep mine at around 25% brightness, but you can easily experiment with the settings to see what works best for you, To adjust the screen brightness, go to settings/brightness and slide the control down to a setting that is acceptable
2. Adjust your poll time to check for email less frequently. The amount of time to wait before checking for new email is adjustable, and the less often you check, the less power you will use in the process. The iPhone offers settings of 15 minutes, 30 minutes, Hourly, and Manually. I usually set it for 30 minutes, with the knowledge that I can also always pull up the email client and manually check whenever it is convenient for me. However, you can set it for what works for you. It might be good to note that a longer polling period cuts down on potentially distracting email notifications as well as saving power from the notifications themselves (especially from the vibration alert). To adjust this setting, go to settings/mail and adjust the fetch time. Now, if you use a push email service, this will not be an option for you. But it has been reported that push services end up using more power, since they keep a connection open. This may be a tradeoff for the end user to decide.
3. Turn off the WiFi. Sure, it makes browsing faster to be connected to a good WiFi data source, but it uses more power in the process. Not only that, but leaving the WiFi on continues to burn through power even when you are not actively connected to a source. My advice – turn off the radio until you are in a location that has a fast WiFi connection and plan to use it for a bit. Otherwise you are writing a tiny power check every few minutes, and cashing them out hits your battery fairly hard. To adjust, go to settings/Wi-Fi and select off.
4. Turn on Auto-Lock for the screen. The iPhone has a beautiful screen, but if you don’t have Auto-Lock on it will be happy to keep that screen shining brightly until you manually turn it off. Not only is this not battery friendly, but it could lead to unexpected calls to Timbuktu thanks to a little accidental screen contact. You can adjust how long the phone will wait before Auto-locking, but the shorter the duration the greater the battery savings (and potentially the more secure the iPhone is, especially if you select an easy to remember but quick to type passcode while you are at it). To adjust this, go to settings/general and select a value for Auto-Lock.
5. Turn off the Equalizer. If you listen to music a lot, this one may be helpful. By turning off the equalizer you can save power over the entire listening session, and depending on the type of music you listen to this could be beneficial over time… Apple has suggested this for the iPod for some time now. To adjust this, go to settings/iPod and turn off the EQ.
6. Pack more juice. Just because you are on the road does not mean that you can’t have a backup power source for your iPhone. Several third party solutions are available that give you an easily pocketable power up to keep you running. For example, the 3GJuice gives you an additional 1800 mAh battery that will charge up your phone to 100% in relatively short time.
7. Take advantage of the commute time. Keep a mobile charger in the car, and plug up the phone when out for lunch or getting to a meeting location. Make it very convenient, and the action soon becomes habit, giving you a battery boost when you get to your destination. The same thing goes for keeping an extra USB cable handy when you are working – most devices now have USB ports, and installing iTunes is not required to charge the iPhone from a port.
8. Kill the vibrate. A vibration alert requires a physical process to drive it, and as you would expect this takes a chunk of power to make it happen. You can save some power by being judicious with its use. You can find this (strangely enough) at settings/sound.
9. Turn off Bluetooth. Let’s be honest, Bluetooth is great when it is in use. Wireless headsets are sweet, no doubt about it. But that connection requires an active radio to be on and listening for the headset to connect in and that requires power. By turning off the Bluetooth radio when not in use for extended periods of time you can save a little juice. This can be found at settings/general/bluetooth.
10. Update the phone often. Apple engineers are always working hard to tweak their flagship product to provide the best user experience, and these tweaks come to us through updates via iTunes. (For example, the latest 3.x update is already in beta and expected out soon.) So, if you typically do not sync via a desktop iTunes make it a point to do it on occasion and check for a new iPhone update – you may save power by doing so.
By following these tips and using a little control in the iPhone usage, you should find that getting through a typical day (or two) without a dead battery is not difficult at all. The most important thing to remember is that you are on a limited amount of power reserve when using any mobile device, and weighing your usage goes a long ways to having your device handy and charged when you need it most.