We live in a world of portable technology, which gives us access to information at the tap of a keyboard or the touch of a finger. Which is great when you need GPS directions in an unfamiliar city, need to check your work email for a vital document or simply want to confirm who the actor was in the terrible 1960s Doctor Who cinema movies.
It’s not so great, however, when your laptop, tablet or mobile device indicates that it’s about to plunge into darkness because you forgot to charge it, or because it’s been used so much today between charging opportunities that it’s going to go flat quite soon.
It’s an incredibly common complaint, especially as manufacturers have tended towards devices that are thinner and lighter. That gives them less space for batteries to be packed in, with less overall power as a result.
There are no real hard and fast “wins” in battery life, but if you’re constantly vexed by low battery woes, try out the following tips to give you that bit more power endurance:
- Disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth: This is contentious, because without Wi-Fi, you’ll be using mobile data, which can be pricey. Still, if you don’t need it (or you’re outside an area where you can easily hook into free Wi-Fi, or you don’t use Bluetooth accessories such as headphones often, disabling those radios can save serious power. That’s because both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are quite “chatty”, constantly seeking out new connections if none are present.
- Dim your display: Again, circumstances such as working outside can make a brighter screen a necessity, but where you can, work with a screen with as low a brightness setting as possible. The larger the screen the more power it uses, and you can’t cut down your screen size easily. Dropping the brightness can save serious power — and afford your screen a little more privacy along the way.
- Close apps and browser tabs: Again, it’s very common in the always-online world to have a number of tabs open in your browser of choice. When you’re plugged into a wall that’s no issue, but for mobile use, those tabs are all burning power just maintaining themselves. You’ll not only save system resources such as processing power by shutting them down, making your system run faster, but also power as well. The same is true for apps you’re not using consistently; while they may take a little power to relaunch, if they’re left open, they’re using up your power.
- Make sure you’re patched and secure: Most modern operating systems do a pretty decent job of power management, and many laptops and phones have special “low power” modes that limit performance to keep them going as long as possible. If you’re using a laptop, however, you should also make sure your anti-virus software is up to date. Malware doesn’t just try to get at your bank accounts, but also the processing power of your system, and with it, your overall battery performance. A clean system isn’t just safer — it’s also one that has optimal battery performance as a result.
- Consider replacements — for batteries or devices: The reality of battery chemistry is that, no matter how careful you are, your battery performance will degrade over time. For some laptop models, you can see that off with a replaceable battery that you fit yourself, but for most mobiles (and some ultrathin laptops) you’ll need to get it properly fitted by the manufacturer or specialist. It’s always worth weighing up the costs of such a replacement versus any benefits you might get out of a newer or faster system, but as a simple way to boost your battery power, a replacement battery is usually much cheaper.
It was Peter Cushing in those Doctor Who movies, by the way, if you were still curious.