Save Your Cellphone Battery

If you lose your charger or are in a situation where you’re away from an outlet, you might want to use some of these tricks to reduce your battery drain:

1. Turn the phone off if you’re not expecting calls, particularly if it’s in roaming mode. Searching for a signal uses up more juice.
2. Don’t use vibrate mode, it uses more electricity than a ringtone
3. Adjust the settings so the backlight is on for as short a time as possible
4. Turn off Bluetooth, WiFI or GPS reception if not needed
5. Store the phone at room temperature

Could come in handy during a hiking trip or a long car ride, or, one of those never-ending meetings.

[via TRACNotes]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Buran says:

    Why would roaming use more power? It’s just what network the phone is “on”, not a different mode … right?

  2. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    6. Have a popular phone.

    I learned my lesson when I ordered a cool unlocked Samsung a while back and found that not only did it need an international adapter for the charger, I couldn’t even get tech support for it in the USA. Got a lot of compliments until the charger malfunctioned and I couldn’t find another one any closer than Portugal.

    I bought a Motorola Motokrzr K1 (or whatever they’re called), and now whenever it starts beeping for a charge, three people within earshot ask if I need to borrow their charge cable. Not to mention that I can pop into practically any cell phone dealer, variety store, or office supply store and pick another one up in minutes.

  3. Tristan Smith says:

    @Buran: this is just a guess, but maybe it’s consuming more energy because it’s not only maintaining an active roaming connection, but also looking for a home network. If anyone know the real answer I’d really like to know as well

  4. qwickone says:

    Instead of just turning it off, remove the battery. Even when it’s off, it’s using some battery. If you remove it, the phone obviously can’t use any battery.

  5. Buran says:

    @speedwell: Slightly better version: get a phone with a USB port. There’s a standard for how much power USB needs and for the connectors, too. I had a Razr V3 before my current iphone and it has a standard mini-USB port on it. (Still have it, actually, plan to unlock it at some point for international travel in the future). You can plug it into a computer or an AC adapter to charge.

  6. theirishscion says:

    @Buran: Well, back in the day (the last 10 years), roaming often meant a modern digital phone that was out in the countryside, away from any of its digital ‘home’ towers, roaming on old analog towers. Analog cell reception pretty much always has substantially higher power consumption than digital service (it’s actually part of what made the digital switch desirable). This was a laws-o-physics thing rather than an engineering thing. You’ll see a similar effect nowadays if you leave your phone in a spot with marginal reception, it has to effectively ‘shout louder’ to be heard, thereby consuming more power and running its battery down far faster.

  7. ColoradoShark says:

    @Buran: Once upon a time roaming meant you could drop into the old analog (AMPS) mode. It did indeed take a lot more power.

  8. Amy Alkon says:

    I bought a Motorola Motokrzr K1 (or whatever they’re called), and now whenever it starts beeping for a charge,

    Why should any of us ever have to hear your cellphone — ringing, beeping, or playing the Stars & Stripes or some other ringtone idiocy?

    It’s audio litter. Somebody who’s thinking or reading the paper or just trying to lead their life without constant obnoxious noises doesn’t need to hear the fact that your phone needs a charge or your office is calling you or anything else.

    My phone is always, always on vibrate, because I’m concerned that I might disturb somebody. And if I go to a play or a movie, it’s on silent.

  9. Yankees368 says:


    BINGO. I was at a kinkos in NYC when my HTC Mogul was about to die, so I simply unhooked one of their scanners and plugged the very same cable into my phone. Let it sit there for about 30 minutes and got a free charge. I love that.

  10. ptkdude says:

    @Buran: You are correct. Roaming does not use more power. Even when you’re on your home system, your phone will scan for other networks and cell sites every few minutes. This serves several purposes, including saying “here I am” to the network so it can more quickly route any incoming calls to you, and helping the network effectively manage traffic.

  11. @Amy Alkon: Well, from what I know of my old E815, you CAN NOT silence the charge beep. I tried on many occasions. It’s worse than Verizon’s Call-911 Siren. I would sometimes get stuck at work, and it would beep for a charge, and drive my boss insane. Even stupider is the fact that when it beeps, it activates it’s backlight, which uses more power.

  12. The Porkchop Express says:

    @Amy Alkon: thanks for contributing to the topic. Oh you didn’t really did you?

    Anyway, I think I agree with the roaming thing still. It seems that when I go somewhere that puts my phone into a network search, the battery gets eaten up a bit more quickly than usual.

  13. DeeJayQueue says:

    if you’re in a low-signal or no signal area, shut the phone off. If it has to search for a tower it puts out more power than if it’s got signal.

    @Amy Alkon: Oh right, forgot that you have an inalienable right to privacy and peace and quiet in public. I guess next you’ll ask everyone to not talk while you’re “thinking or reading the paper”. And those pesky birds, always twittering away in the trees. What the hell are they thinking? You don’t need to hear that, they should develop some sort of silent telepathy so that you never have to listen to them again.

    I’ve got a suggestion, how about the next time you’re forced to listen to something that bothers you, try one of these simple things:
    -ask the person to stop, turn down or off, or otherwise silence the offending device.
    -remove yourself to a quieter area
    -repeatedly jab sharp pencils into your ears so that you puncture your eardrum and never have to hear any undesirable sounds again.

  14. jamar0303 says:

    @speedwell: Eh… aren’t all Samsungs supposed to have the same charging adapter?

    I may run into a similar problem- Toshiba apparently doesn’t sell phones in most of the world, making support kind of hard to get.

  15. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @jamar0303: yeah, that’s what I thought, and what all the cell phone dealers tried to tell me until they actually had my phone in their hands. LOL.

    @Amy Alkon: My phone beeps quietly every so often, not constantly. God forbid you should be inconvenienced. See this? (rubs forefinger against thumb) It’s the world’s smallest violin playing “My Heart Bleeds for You.” Go live in a bubble.

    @Buran: It does have a mini USB port like yours. My brother has a RAZR and he borrowed my charger one when we were stuck someplace. I carry a monster purse with a large cosmetic case full of chargers and adapters, because I am a geek. :)

    I have a powermonkey explorer ([]). I charged my PDA off of the solar panel stuck to the airplane window last time I was on a long flight. I can leave my phone hooked up to it in my purse and it will shut down by itself when the battery is fully charged. It is well worth the cost.

  16. bohemian says:

    I lose charge much faster when I am in areas with bad reception or lack of major carrier towers. Our LG phones have one of those less than common connection jacks. The next phones we buy will have that standard USB jack, it makes much more sense.

  17. Smitherd says:

    You can also turn down the brightness on the screen. I keep mine on the lowest setting all the time, and my battery lasts for two to three days, 24/7. You rarely need the extra brightness; the only time it creates a problem is if you’re out in a sunny area. Inside and in moderate-light outdoor settings, you can keep it all the way down and still see it without any problems.

  18. azntg says:

    I guess the RAZR must be different. My L2 uses a standard mini-USB cable, but it doesn’t charge unless a special driver is installed on the computer nor does it charge with any regular AC adapter with a mini-USB on the other end. *shrug*

  19. @jamar0303: Actually, I have the A900 Blade, and my boyfriend has the newer version – I don’t remember the model number. Totally different charging ports :(

  20. SOhp101 says:

    Roaming itself does not use significant amounts of extra power, but if you’re in an area with a weak signal, your cellphone will use extra juice to try and get some sort of signal possible. Most do go into sleep mode but then it will try every minute or so to look for a signal again, so if you’re in an area with really bad reception and you’re not expecting any calls you’re better off turning it off.

  21. Buran says:

    @theirishscion: Except analog service doesn’t exist anymore at all.

  22. Buran says:

    @azntg: I’ve never heard of needing a “special driver” to accept power over the power pins. For software functions, yes. Power? No way.

  23. ElizabethD says:

    The little coffin photo is brilliant.

  24. kable2 says:

    My W810i from sony comes with a data cable that goes to usb, and if the driver isnt installed it will not charge via usb. With this cable it will only charge to about 85%, need the wall charger for the last 15%.

  25. Verdigris says:

    Roaming DOES require more power. When you are in your home area, your phone only communicates with the network every 6 hours. While you are roaming, the phone tries to communicate every 15 minutes. (That’s CDMA technology, I don’t know about GSM)

    I know this because I work for a major cell company and can literally see this happening with a program I have access to.

    Also, if you have a smart phone, disable the email push, that saves at least a couple of hours.

  26. If Ive learned anything by often winding up with a dead phone while at conferences, invest in a second battery. Preferably an extended life one. You can find them on Amazon (or a dozen other sites) or under $10. Throw em in your desk, your purse, your briefcase, whatever, and suddenly youve got double the talk and standbye time.

  27. enascar88 says:

    Dont leave your cell phone in the car during the winter. From what I was told the deep cold eats batteries.

  28. I’ve got a few solar chargers for mine as well, just in case, plus they store the juice internally so even if it is cloudy it should still have a charge.

    I also got a second phone charger from ebay for about 4.99, keep one at home, one at the office, one in the car…

  29. jhuang says:

    @speedwell: too bad having a Motorola defeats the purpose because it needs to be charged every five seconds. (;

  30. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @jhuang: LOL. Mine is OK.

  31. Buran says:

    @Verdigris: If your phone only checks in with the network every 15 minutes, then how come calls get through instantly no matter when they’re made?

  32. mike1731 says:

    @speedwell: Or, have a phone that uses a USB connector as it’s charger. I can charge my Blackberry in a pinch by hooking it up with a short USB – mini USB cable (same one I use for an external hard drive and camera) to my PC, and it charges like a charm

  33. jdame says:

    @Buran: My razor would not charge when connected to a pc until I installed the right drivers for it.

  34. Woofer00 says:

    Searching for a signal definitely consumes battery power at an absurd rate. My Moto KRZR’s battery will last for a few days on standby while sitting on standby on my desk in my home area, but will be totally depleted after 3-4 hours in a NYC subway where there is little to no signal present, or when driving where signals are sparse. My battery is old (1 1/2 yrs) and probably failing, so it might not be the best example, but I can definitely say that it consumes power at an increased rate when searching for a signal.

    One nice thing is that I always have my laptop and can simply plug in the mini-USB to charge through the laptop.

    Another tip that is actually more useful IMO, is to disable additional signals that you don’t use. In addition to disabling bluetooth, disable EVDO/EDGE/other data transmit systems through your phone’s hidden systems menu. This requires a bit of time and a modicum of technical knowledge (many popular phones have guides that remove the knowledge requirement), but can significantly boost the total battery life.

  35. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    That’s why I stick with phones that use a mini-USB port. The Motorola RAZR is a crazy popular phone. Someone around you will have a charger you can borrow. If not, then just carry around a mini-USB cable and connect it to the nearest computer.

    Also, you can buy one of those Energizer chargers at your local drug store or supermarket.

  36. scoosdad says:

    @jdame: Ditto for my Blackberry 7130e from Verizon. It has the mini USB, can charge from that provided the host computer has the Blackberry drivers installed, but uses the same jack for charging from a plug-in AC charger, without the drivers.

    There’s actually a trick to getting the charging drivers installed without installing the whole Blackberry management suite on your computer; it involves extracting and renaming some .cab files off the install CD that comes with the Blackberry. My company (who provided the Blackberry) would not allow us to install the management suite on our company laptops, but I did the .cab file hack and got the USB charging working.

  37. AD8BC says:

    @Buran: Roaming doesn’t use any more power when it is actually talking to a network. But if it is in a position that it can’t see a compatible network, and it is constantly pinging for a network, it does tend to use more juice.

    I think the poster used a bit of incorrect terminology.

  38. bunch.of.wackos says:

    @Amy Alkon:
    the mosty efective trolling i’ve seen in a while… good for you… i
    guess some people can be advocates for sound peace and within the net
    turn a dark self and enjoy flamewars…

  39. TechnoElf says:

    @Buran: I think he meant to say that the phone checked who the service provider is. But, none the less phones actually check in very often depending on the RF technology (CDMA or GSM). Phones now can check in less often, using less power than phones before, though that power savings has been negated by all the features added to the phones.

    Another random fact, and CDMA only random fact at that, is even if you are in good coverage, if you are in the serving area for multiple cell sites you are then in a soft handoff area where your phone has to talk to multiple towers. The power drain isn’t as bad as if you were far away trying to talk to a tower but, it’s still something.

  40. shortergirl06 says:

    So, is it draining more power when it makes those weird crackling noises when put near a speaker? What is really happening there?

    I have noticed it happens just before I get a call, I can tell when I’m getting a call up to 5 seconds before it even rings. But what about the other times? Is that the phone checking in? Am I the only one that gets that? Am I going crazy? Is the phone trying to talk to me?

  41. Mr. Gunn says:

    All of those tips, combined, make a very small difference. I have seen it in the 5% range. We really need better batteries, yes the phone manufacturers continue to put small batteries in phones for aesthetic purposes.

  42. abofh says:

    @Buran (et al.)

    As I understand it, it does not take more power for your phone to be roaming than on another network (as others have pointed out.)

    What others have not, and I have come to believe from my own experience and analyzing what I know about cell phones, is that if your cell phone is “bonded”, or (associated) to a home network [sorry, I use verizon, so I’m not 100% on if this applies to every cell tech, or just the ones they and sprint use], then your phone will always /prefer/ the home network.

    If it has a satisfactory connection to the home network, then it has no need to search, and thus longer battery. If it has a bad connection, or any connection on a non home network, it would really rather want an “Ok” connection on the home network, then a “great” connection on the roaming network.

    They do this mainly because its cheaper if you don’t have to pay a competitor to carry your phones bits. Your phone is (supposed to be) smart enough to just “do the right thing”, and give you roam if it must. But the cell carriers /really/ want that extra nickle, so….

    Of course, I could be making all this up, but it seems to make sense with my understanding of the world.

  43. abofh says:

    (Doh, just saw @Verdigris’s post, much shorter :-) )

  44. parnote says:

    @jdame: My Razr also would NOT charge when attached to my WinXP computers … until I downloaded and installed the appropriate drivers.

    BUT … when I connect the same phone, via the same USB cable, to my Linux Kubuntu computer … Viola! Linux will charge my Razr without the installation of ANY additional drivers! Now if I could only figure out a way to get my Kubuntu computer to access and download the files on my Verizon-crippled phone …

  45. parnote says:

    … that is, short of popping out my microSD memory card and dumping it via a direct file transfer.

  46. iguanoid says:

    Is an unused cell phone ever used as a relay for other calls? That would be kinda badass, like if your phone was roaming just outside an area, and someone 5 miles further into the roaming area was making a call, and their call relayed into your phone wihtout you knowing it. Maybe that is where dropped calls occur….as soon as your zombie phone is awoken, it drops the parasitic call.

    I have no idea how cell phones work, can you tell?

  47. Difdi says:

    How does keeping the phone at room temperature help save battery power? Wouldn’t cooling it down, to reduce electrical resistance, make it last longer?

  48. oakie says:

    @shortergirl06: this is normal for GSM phones (if you’re in the US, that would be AT&T or T-Mobile). just a slight bit of electrostatic interference as the phone transmits and receives when getting the initial signal of an incoming call.

  49. DeafLEGO says:

    Turning the vibrate mode off for Deaf people wouldn’t work but the other suggestions are no brainers.