• Greg Baker

Living at 3%

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure to see Cirque de Soleil in Atlanta.  The show is spectacular!  If you don’t have plans to see it, you are missing an opportunity.  The show runs through May 8th.  If you can get tickets for this weekend, go see it!  You’ll love it!

But this column isn’t about Cirque.  It’s about the trip to Atlanta.

Specifically, a common scenario plays out on a regular basis.  I suspect that many individuals and families experience something similar.  Basically, it goes something like this – After getting into the car, one or both of my daughters hand us their phone while saying,

“Mommy, please plug in my phone.  I’m at 3%.”

Several questions occur to me when I hear this request; foremost among them is “How?”  We are 10 years into the age of mobile devices.  By now, I would think that everyone understands that these devices run on batteries, and that to work effectively, the batteries need to be charged.  Common sense would imply that if you want to use your phone on a 2-hour car ride, maybe you should start with a fully charged device, yes?

Apparently, though, many folks prefer to live on edge.

OK, granted.  This isn’t really a fair scenario.   The car is a well-known power oasis.  However, this doesn’t negate the fact that many folks still haven’t learned to manage their battery life.  Just ask yourself, how many times to you have to plug in every day to stay charged?  If it’s more than none, you either need to lay off Facebook or take a look at some common battery saving techniques.

Stay Cool – Battery capacities decreases as the temperature rises above 72 degrees, and exposing batteries to temperatures greater than 95 degrees may cause permanent damage.  While an inconvenient truth for us Southerners, heat damage to batteries is a fact that we must acknowledge.  Keep your phone cool!

Don’t Push Me – Have you noticed that every app wants to send you notifications?  Why?  If something is really important, someone will call.  Everything else is a distraction.  A distraction that lights up the screen, vibrates the phone or makes an electronic beep.  Why waste your valuable battery on annoyances?  Turn off all push notifications.  If a notification is truly needed, use fetch.

Save Your Screen– The largest power drain on most phones is the display.  A few techniques exist to reduce the display power usage.  If you are on an Android with an AMOLED display, use dark wallpaper.  The AMOLED technology uses less power to illuminate a dark pixel than a light one.  And all mobile device users should reduce their screen brightness.  A bright screen requires more power and will quickly drain the battery.

Track Location Services – Location services is another power sucking feature used by app developers.  Every time an app reaches out for your location, additional power is used.  While it’s nice to have your pictures tagged with location, not every app needs your location.  Only enable Location Services for those apps with benefit you.

Know Your Wi-Fi – Personally, my largest power issues occur when I forget to turn off Wi-Fi.  This is counter to most advice, since in general, Wi-Fi consumes less power than cellular.  In my case, I’m often in environments with unknown networks, and I find that my phone uses more power trying to connect to those unknown hot spots.   Since I’m not a big data user, I can simply leave my Wi-Fi turned off.  Device manufactures will suggest using Airplane mode.  Either way, you should be aware of your radio environment and connect accordingly.

I’ve found that by implementing these techniques I am able to go almost 2 days on a single charge!  Of course, your results may be different, but I hope that you can increase the amount of time you go between charges.  Good luck!


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