OnePlus 8 with charger
(Image: © Future)
Those of us who are old enough to remember the ‘brick’ phones of days gone by will recall that those handsets could last for weeks without needing to be recharged; and while we may be looking back through rose-tinted spectacles to some extent, it’s certainly the case that your modern smartphone will rarely last as long as you’ll want it to.
Most phones these days will last for a day of use, and in some cases possibly two, but the days of your handset lasting for a week between charging sessions is long gone. However, there are some things you can do to keep it running for longer, so that you’re not reaching for the charger quite so often.
We’ve come up with some tips that you can use to make your Android phone last longer. These tips won’t work for iPhones, and some will be more effective on certain Android phones than on others, but based on our years of testing hundreds of Android devices we can say that most of these will work for most handsets.
How to save battery on your phone at a glance:
- Watch what you’re watching
- Jump into the settings
- Close unused apps
- Turn down the brightness
- Change your displays
- Get disconnected
- Go dark (mode)
- Battery saving modes
- Use some Lite-r apps
How to save battery on your Android phone
1. Watch what you’re watching
Our first piece of advice is the most obvious, but it’s something you can easily forget if you use your smartphone as a multi-media device.
Watching movies and TV shows, or playing games, can drain your smartphone battery really quickly, so if you’re looking to keep your device ticking for as long as possible, you might want to avoid hitting up Netflix every time you’ve got a free five minutes. Maybe read a digital book instead?
If you’re a gamer, perhaps download a few lighter games like puzzlers, instead of jumping to Rome: Total War or Stardew Valley every time you’ve got a break, as games like this that aren’t as intensive won’t drain power as much.
2. Jump into the settings
If you’ve got a smartphone with a great display, you might find this screen is also your Achilles’ Heel when it comes to keeping your phone going over a long period of time. No matter, if you hop into the Settings menu, then the Display options, you’ll find ways to tweak it.
High resolution screens can drain battery, so if you’re in 4K, 2K or HD+ it’s likely possible you can downgrade these settings to a lower resolution to keep the phone lasting longer. Of course, content won’t look as good, but that’s a small price to pay for battery stamina.
New smartphones sometimes have 90Hz or 120Hz displays, which refresh the screen that many times per second instead of the ‘standard’ 60Hz, however these settings also sap your power pack’s charge super quickly. Such phones let you change that though, so step down to 60Hz to extend your use time.
3. Close unused apps
After you’re done using an app and press the home button or swipe up to return to your phone’s menu, you might think it’s out of sight and out of mind, but it’s actually still drawing power from your phone.
Lots of apps have background processes that run even when the app isn’t even active, and if you’ve got lots of apps all running in the background this can siphon your phone’s battery life that could be pretty noticeable.
It’s easy to close background apps simply by finding the previous apps menu – this can be found by pressing the on-screen or physical button marked by a square, or by swiping up and holding if you’ve got gesture controls. Now simply swipe up on the apps to close them, though there’s usually an option to close them all which is quicker.
4. Turn down the brightness
This is another seemingly-obvious piece of advice, although it’s one that you can forget seeing as Android phones on Android 9 or 10 are meant to fix this automatically.
Brighter displays use more power, so turning your brightness down can keep your phone chugging along for longer, and this can be pretty noticeable if you turn it down a lot.
However, modern Android phones have automatic brightness, which changes how blinding the display is to match the environment. This is super useful, but if you’re in a bright area it’ll make your screen brighter, therefore ruining your efforts to keep this low. We’d recommend turning off automatic brightness then, if you want your handset to last as long as possible.
Turning off automatic brightness is easy: simply swipe down from top, and alongside the slider to change brightness, there should be an option to toggle this feature.
5. Turn off display tricks
Display settings aren’t limited to resolution and refresh rate. There are different types of display modes that can affect battery drain, which you should turn off if you value your handset lasting longer.
Always-on displays on smartphones have been around for years on smartphones, and some are complex while others are pretty basic, but no matter what your always-on display is showing you, it’s going to be draining quite a bit of battery. If you want your phone to last as long as possible, turn it off!
Some phones have live wallpapers, which are basically backgrounds for your phone which move – these can be simple patterns which fluctuate, or actual moving images, and these can drain plenty of battery, especially if you spend a lot of time looking at your phone’s main menu. Changing your wallpaper to a static image will keep your phone lasting much longer.
6. Get disconnected
A phone is meant to connect us to the wider world, but apparently connectivity drains the battery, so if you want to keep your phone lasting longer you’ll switch off such settings.
Mobile data, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity all take a bit of battery to maintain, especially Bluetooth if you’re connected to lots of different things, so it can be worth switching off one or several of these if you’re not using them.
If you need to take the nuclear option, Airplane Mode automatically switches these all off as well as making other tweaks, and short of specific battery-saving modes, this can be an easy toggle to keep your phone lasting as long as possible.
7. Go dark (mode)
Depending on which phone you have, and if you can stand looking at it, dark mode can be a way to keep your phone lasting longer.
If you’ve got a phone with an LED-based screen like OLED or AMOLED, your device shows black by turning off the LEDs, which obviously saves power, so using dark mode (which comes as part of Android 10, as well as in plenty of the most popular apps) saves plenty of battery.
This isn’t the case as much in LCD displays as black is created by turning on every different color, so it can actually be more battery-intensive in that case.
8. Battery saving modes
Most Android smartphones come with a battery saving mode, which you can easily turn on to switch off select options. This usually turns off fancy display tech, and reduces background processes, so basically it combines some of the previous steps we’ve already mentioned.
However different battery modes on different phones do different things, so we’d recommend going through this list anyway. You can easily toggle the battery saving modes on by swiping down to access the options panel and selecting it there, or going into the Settings menu to do so.
Some phones even have ultra-battery-saving modes, which almost transform your phone into a feature ‘brick’ phone of old in reducing it to calling and texting, which obviously is rather extreme, but it can keep your phone lasting ages as a result.
9. Use some Lite-r apps
Some of the most popular apps have Lite or Go versions – apps from Google and Facebook are some of the most popular examples of these. These apps are created for people with weaker phones that can’t handle big apps, as they’re often a bit more basic.
One side-effect of these lighter apps is that they’re much less battery intensive, so if you use them for some or all of your social media or connectivity apps you’ll find yourself saving lots of power.
There are a few downsides to these apps, as they’re often slower to use and less powerful, but the battery saving may be enough to offset this.