12 ways to make your phone battery last longer

The apps you love may be hammering your battery

Does your phone run out of juice too quickly between charges? Do your battery bars drop like a credit-crunched housing market? You may sometimes curse your mobile for its lack of staying power, but a few simple changes in how you use it could boost battery performance and cut down on your charging...

1. Close unnecessary applications

It's easy to leave power-sapping applications, such as a music player, running in the background, particularly on a smartphone where there are plenty of functions you can flick between. It's usually straightforward to check which applications are open, and to close ones that aren't needed.

2. Switch off Bluetooth

You may think it's less hassle to leave it on, but Bluetooth nibbles away at your battery power. So whether you use Bluetooth for a handsfree headset, transferring music or images, or one of many other Bluetooth applications, the rule is the same: when you're not using it, go into the menu system and turn it off.

3. Unplug the Wi-Fi

Similarly, if your phone is one of those high-end handsets with Wi-Fi connectivity, don't leave it running in the background - it will devour power.

4. Dim the screen

Whenever the screen's on, battery power is being used up. Adjusting your phone's out-of-the-box display settings can save power. Dim the brightness level to the lowest you need, and change your backlight-on and screen timeout to the minimum settings you require. You can find the display adjustment or power saver options in your phone's settings menu.

5. Don't fiddle

The more you have the screen on, the more battery power is consumed. So don't keep checking for messages or missed calls, looking at your phone clock, checking out old messages, looking at pics or generally fiddling with the phone - it may pass the time, but you're also sucking away your battery life.

6. Turn off 3G

Although 3G adds extra multimedia functionality, mobiles use more power maintaining connections and making calls on a 3G network than on 2G/2.5G GSM networks. If your 3G phone has the option in its network settings menu, you could temporarily switch from automatic network selection (or 3G/UMTS option) to an appropriate GSM option and extend your battery life significantly. Switch back when you want a faster data connection, or want to use other 3G functions.

7. Watch out for poor signal strength

The poorer the signal strength, the more power your phone will expend trying to connect to the network. While you can't control network coverage in your area, try to avoid keeping your phone on standby somewhere where signal strength is known to be non-existent or very poor, such as in a basement, on the Underground/Metro, or even in a room in your home where you get bad reception.

8. Manage your music

When it comes to playing music, some mobiles are more power-hungry than others, but all will use up extra battery life. When playing tunes, be aware that you're reducing your calling and standby time - and if you're interrupted and have to take your earphones out, make sure you stop the music.

9. Switch to flight mode

In some situations where you want to listen to tunes or play games but don't need the phone connected - travelling on the Underground/Metro, when you're out of network coverage, or perhaps at night - you can save power by switching to 'flight mode'. This automatically turns off the mobile phone's radio transceiver and Bluetooth, reducing power consumption, but allowing you to use other functions. This means, though, you can't make or take calls or receive texts, so remember to turn it back to 'normal' mode when you need to.

10. Reduce mobile internet browsing

Avoid unnecessarily long bouts of random mobile internet browsing; while it may be reducing your boredom levels, using a data connection will also be draining your battery.

11. Limit email checking

It's great to stay connected with email on your mobile, but you could be unnecessarily eating up your battery life. With most mobile email apps, you can set how frequently your phone checks for new messages - but every data connection that takes place when your phone checks for email uses up a little more power. Think about how often you genuinely need to check for emails, and adjust your settings accordingly.

12. Know where your GPS is at

If you have a mobile with a GPS receiver built in for on-board satellite navigation, be careful that you don't leave it active when you don't need it. Also, be aware that using GPS-based satnav applications on your phone can rapidly reduce your juice, so use prudently.