The real reasons your phone battery is rubbish - and how to solve them

Stay charged for longer

If you tend to run apps in the background rather than closing them completely (pressing the home button, rather than the back key, on Android phones for example) then it's worth keeping an eye on your task manager even if you're not noticing shorter than normal battery life, just so you can see what's actually running.

6. Activate your phone's battery saving mode

Many phones come with some form of built in battery saving mode, such as the 'STAMINA' mode found on Sony Xperia handsets which stops apps from syncing or checking for notifications and messages when the screen is off, then lets them work as normal as soon as you turn the screen back on.

battery saver

Sony's method also maintains your IP address so that you will instantly have internet access once the screen is turned on again.

Other phones take a different approach, for example the Samsung Galaxy S4 has a 'Power Saving' mode which limits the maximum performance of the CPU, turns the screen brightness down and turns haptic feedback off.

Windows Phone 8 handsets have 'battery saver' which only lets apps run when you open them and turns off email auto-sync.

7. Charge your phone efficiently

When it comes to charging you should always try and use the charger that comes with your smartphone, as at it will be a smart charger that can monitor the battery level and ensure that the phone is charged efficiently and safely.

Beyond that, there are ways that you can further optimise the charging of your phone. Different batteries have different behaviours. While nickel based batteries should be run down to zero and then charged to 100% to ensure that they use their full capacity, the same isn't true of lithium-ion batteries, which smartphones use.

Thankfully the effects of charging patterns on lithium-ion batteries are pretty minimal. That said, if you want you want to maximise the usefulness of your battery then in general you shouldn't let it drop below around 20%. Once you do charge it you should charge it to at least 80% rather than doing lots of little charges. However there's no need to charge it right the way to 100% .


You also shouldn't let it run down completely too often as this puts extra stress on the battery. It can be worth intentionally draining the battery completely and charging it to 100% once every month or so to calibrate it, so that the battery reading on the phone remains accurate, but don't do it more than that.

It's best not to leave a lithium-ion battery plugged in once charged as it can cause it to overheat and degrade. Most chargers stop the battery from charging once it's reached 100% anyway but it's still best to unplug it.

Don't let your phone's battery stay flat for an extended period of time as it can become unstable. Lithium-ion batteries have a built in fail safe which causes the circuits to be destroyed if you try and charge a dangerously unstable battery.

This means that it isn't particularly dangerous but it will destroy your battery, which is a serious problem if it's sealed in your smartphone.

8. Don't use live wallpapers and reduce the motion effect in iOS 7.

The movement from a live wallpaper uses your phone's graphics processor as it has to process motion and potentially visual effects. A static wallpaper on the other hand has none of that and so is much friendlier on your battery.

live wallpaper

The parallax effect in iOS 7, which causes the icons and background image on your screen to match the movements of the device, tasks your phones graphics processor in much the same way as a live wallpaper.

The effect can be minimised by going into 'Settings', then 'General', then 'Accessibility' and then switching 'Reduce Motion' to 'On'.

Additionally, if your phone has an OLED screen (like the Samsung Galaxy S4) it's worth switching to a dark wallpaper, as OLED screens light pixels individually rather than lighting the whole screen.

So a wallpaper with a lot of black won't require as many lit diodes as one with a lot of white and will therefore use less battery.

9. Prevent apps from syncing in the background


We asked a Samsung spokesperson about the impact of apps constantly synchronising on your battery and they replied with the following:

"Smartphones are becoming more and more efficient at maintaining data connections to the internet.

"However the reality is that every time your phone makes a data call to the network this uses battery power, therefore if you minimise the frequency of these calls by syncing less, you make less calls and therefore save battery too."

It's also best to only have apps sync over Wi-Fi, as 3G in itself is a bigger battery drain than Wi-Fi.

10. Use a battery saver app

Depending on your phone, it might be worth using a battery saver app to eke as much life out of your battery as possible.

Juice Defender

There are loads of these available from app stores, for example 'Juice Defender' is a popular Android one which can control whether Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and other connections are enabled based on the time and your location.

It also has options to automatically disable all connectivity when your battery is low and a bunch of other tools besides.

Having said all that, many phones already have built in battery management, such as the battery saving modes detailed above. A combination of those and a task manager to close apps when needed will in many cases be all you need.