Battery technology is improving, but we all know that it is easy to be out and about and realise that your phone battery is draining fast...
At first glance, it may seem strange that although battery technology is improving, modern smartphones seem to have less battery life than older mobile phones. We now have to charge them every day whereas, before we all started using Apps, mobile phones were sold on a battery life of a few days or longer.
The reason is simple - the modern phone is a supercomputer in your pocket. The processing power in the palm of your hand is probably greater than a five-year-old desktop PC. Many people will have heard of the famous IBM supercomputer Deep Blue. Its computing power in May 1997 boasted a performance figure of 11.38 gigaflops. Today the ARM chip inside the Exynos-based Samsung Galaxy S5 outputs some 142 gigaflops. (A gigaflop is a measure of computer speed and is a billion floating-point operations per second.)
So by that measure, we are all carrying around a supercomputer with us 24 hours a day. What's more, our trusty smartphones all have colour screens, Bluetooth, GPS and an advanced camera (not to mention a mobile phone in case we ever need it!). It's not surprising that they need a lot of power to keep it alive and available to us at the touch of a button.
And that's the crunch; our smartphones are not only available to us when we need them, but are also carrying out lots of activities in the background so that they are always live and able to give us what we need (even if we are not sure we do need it). The phone will be maintaining the mobile phone signal and checking for incoming calls and text messages, looking for Bluetooth devices and WiFi sources, downloading emails, scanning social media, logging our position, updating our Apps, checking the location of nearby coffe shops and more.
So our first question should be...
How can I find out what Apps are draining my battery the most?
Let's first look at an iPhone (operating iOS 9 or later). To check your battery usage.
Go to Settings > Battery.
To see how long each app has been open and running in the background, tap the clock symbol under each app, you might see these usage types:
- Background Activity means that your battery is used while apps run in the background.
- Audio means that apps play audio while running in the background.
- No or low signal means that your device is searching for a signal or being used with a low signal.
- Backup & Restore indicates that your device has been backing up to iCloud or restoring from an iCloud backup.
- Location and Background Location means that your battery was used when tracking your device.
You can choose individual Apps that you may decide not to Refresh, or simlpy uninstall them. (You can always install them again in the future.)
With Android phones, you get a little more information.
Go to Settings > Battery
You will see an organised breakdown of what's consuming your phone's battery. Applications and features will display in a descending list of battery users. If you see an App you barely use or a feature you never use, you may want to uninstall the App or turn off the feature. But please do be careful. We get contacted by lots of people who say that there is no Blue Dot showing their location on the iFootpath App map, and this is because they have turned Location Services off.
Just a little note before we go further - if you see that the amount of power the iFootpath App using is a high proportion/percentage of the total used by your device - do not worry, this is in fact, a good thing. It means that you are using your phone's battery capacity to power the iFootpath App and it is not being used on other unwanted Apps.
What can I do to reduce battery usage?
This is not an exhaustive list of how to reduce your battery usage, but we know that the following can make a significant impact.
Manage your Social Media and Email Apps. Most of us love Social Media, but those Apps want to keep us in contact all the time and are always looking for new messages. You can turn the refresh off when you out walking (do not uninstall or log out of the App). Indeed you can set all messaging Apps to Manual, and you'll instantly extend your device's battery life by a significant amount. Once you see what a difference that makes, try re-enabling just the most important ones, and possibly reducing their polling frequency in the process. For Android, this can vary from device to device and for the different Apps but for iPhone look at the Refresh settings mentioned above.
Similarly, with email you can switch off the auto collection of email so that your phone only checks for new email when you request it to. On an iPhone, for example, turn off push notifications by going to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars.
- Tap Fetch New Data.
- Select Manual to get the best battery results.
- Access new emails by opening your mail app and pulling down on the screen.
Trim Apps running in the background. It is best to only have those Apps that you are currently using, open on your phone. To close Apps on phones using Android go to Settings > Apps, swipe to the left; you'll see a list of apps that are currently running. Tap on each one to see what they're for; you can stop any apps that you don't need running in the background all of the time. For iOS devices press the home button twice when the phone is open and then swipe unwanted App upwards.
Turn down the brightness and turn off Automatic Brightness. It's probably obvious at this point, but you'll be surprised by how much this one alone helps to improve battery life. For both operating systems you can achieve this through Settings.
Turn off the screen when you are not using the phone. The iFootpath App does not need the screen to be live, on both iOS and Android devices you can tap the power button to turn the screen off. iPhones then lock so that can't then open the phone again when you place in it a bag or pocket. (Some Android phones may not turn off so make sure yours is locked and touching the screen does not re-enable the device.)
Update your Apps. Applications often get updated to use less battery power, so you should make sure your Apps are up to date. Even if you configured the phone for automatic updates, some Android Apps still require that you manually install updates. Check for App updates in Google Play by hitting the menu key and going to My Apps.
How can I keep my battery charged when out and about?
Carry a second device. The iFootpath App can be added to as many devices as you like that have the same App store account at no cost - read more about this at our Help Centre. So one way of saving battery usage on your phone is to also install the iFootpath App on another device. This could be an old phone that you no longer need or a tablet/iPad. When connected to the internet, download your desired walks and save them to your secondary device. You can use the Favourites feature to make finding the walks easier. Then when out and about you can follow the walk directions on your additional device and save the battery on your main phone (as you will not be opening the device and powering the screen). The detailed directions will all be there but if you have trouble with the live GPS map (not all devices have GPS, and the background maps may not download if you do not have an internet connection) Then check the map to see your exact location on your primary phone should you need to. You can read more about managing data by taking a look at iFootpath Expert: How to use less or no mobile data when following a walk with the iFootpath App.
Take an additional battery with you. Add on batteries are also available and we carry one with us when we are out walking. There are three main categories of battery for your phone.
Cheaper boost batteries that can keep your device alive and may also charge it. They can be picked up quite cheaply from phone shops and online stores such as Amazon for less than £10- here is an example of a boost battery.
More expensive batteries with a higher capacity can give your phone a full charge and cost between £10 and £20 - here is an example of a high capacity battery.
Last you can buy a case with a built-in battery. I have found these type particularly helpful if your phone battery is showing some trouble and otherwise you are happy with your phone - here is an example of a built-in battery case.
I hope the above is helpful and you will also find help at our Help Centre and by googling any questions that you may have.