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Expand Your Smartphone's Battery Life

The battery in Marjorie Hoosier's smartphone doesn't last through the day. She asked the Cell Phones, Mobile Devices forum for advice.

The battery in Marjorie Hoosier's smartphone doesn't last through the day. She asked the Cell Phones, Mobile Devices forum for advice.

A phone battery should last--even under heavy use--for the 16 or 17 hours from when you wake up until you go to bed. (I'm assuming that you recharge your phone at night.) Unfortunately, a great many phones can't always make it through the day.

But there are settings that can extend the phone's battery life. Try turning off Wi-Fi, and set your phone to not automatically sync email, your calendar, or other cloud-centered apps. If you have an Android phone, consider removing some of your widgets; since their function is to show you live data, they have to be working at all times.

You might also want to remove other power-hungry apps. If you have an Android phone, go to the launcher (what Windows users think of as the "desktop"), press the Menu button and tap Settings>Battery & data manager>Battery usage to identify the hogs.

If that doesn't help, look for places in your daily routine where you can conveniently give your phone an extra charge. If you drive a lot, get an adapter for your car's cigarette lighter and charge while driving. Or plug the phone in when working at your computer. I often listen to music off of my phone while working in the kitchen, with the phone plugged into both a pair of speakers and a recharger.

If none of these solutions seem practical, invest in a backup battery. I occasionally use a PowerSkin--a special case with a battery inside--for this purpose. I find the PowerSkin too bulky for every-day use, but if I'm going to be away for the day, I make sure it's charged and toss it in my backpack. For more details, see my review.

Finally, here are two free Android apps that can help you manage battery life:

GreenPower Free automatically manages WiFi, data-synching, and other power-draining features. Once you've set it up, you can pretty much forget it.

Battery Indicator shows you your power consumption. It can display remaining power in increments of 1 percent, even on phones that otherwise only display 10-percent increments. (For instance, my Droid X currently tells me I have 90 percent, but Battery Indicator reports 86.) It also gives you a quicker route to get to the battery usage screen.

Read the original forum discussion.

Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector writes about technology and cinema. Email your tech questions to him at answer@pcworld.com, or post them to a community of helpful folks on the PCW Answer Line forum. Follow Lincoln on Twitter, or subscribe to the Answer Line newsletter, e-mailed weekly.

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