By: Margy Eckelkamp
Previously on Farm Journal’s Ag Tech
It’s a mix of urban legend and science—how to maximize the battery life of your smart phone. iPhone, Android or other, all phones have their limits, and long-days in the field put the devices to their test—particularly when you forget the charging cord.
Here’s a curated list of some ideas to help give you that extra five minutes for a phone call.
1. Research in how your phone uses its battery
Look to see which of your apps use the most battery power. On iPhones and Android phones, open “Settings” and in the Battery menu, you’ll find a sorted list of apps by the amount of battery power they use.
Then, you can disable the background activities of apps. Here’s a summary from this article in the NY Times: On an iPhone, go “Settings”, select “General”, and then “Background App Refresh.” From that list you can disable the background activities, which consume battery reserves. On an Android phone, go to “Settings”, select “Data Usage,” choose an app, then select “Restrict Background Data.”
2. Keep your phone out of the sunlight.
Avoid putting your phone in the direct sunlight or even warm surfaces as it will drain your battery faster.
3. Set your phone to automatic lock
Most sources cite that a smartphone’s screen consumes the most energy of any component. Enabling auto-lock minimizes the time your phone screen consumes battery while you aren’t actively using it.
4.Turn off the vibrate function
Unless the vibrate function is the only way for you to know when your phone is ringing, consider disabling it.
5. Turn down the brightness of your screen or use the auto-brightness feature.
This idea comes with some discussion. The debate comes from whether to use auto-brightness, or to operate with minimum brightness whenever possible.
One report conducted by The Wirecutter found using auto-brightness saved a good amount of battery life. That report also showed in an hourlong test, an iPhone 6s used 54% less battery power with the screen brightness at minimum as compared with maximum brightness. An Android test phone used 30% less.
While some sources advocate you operate your phone at the minimally required brightness, that gets tricky out in the middle of a corn field in the full sun.
6. Play music downloaded to the phone, rather than streaming it.
In the same above mentioned Wirecutter series of tests, streaming music over a Wi-Fi connection for two hours used 10% of an iPhone’s battery. Streaming the same music stored directly on a device over two hours consumed only 5%.
7. It’s okay to use chargers not made by the phone manufacturers.
Charging equipment from reputable vendors is just as effective and safe. As this article explains, internally the phone contains all of the circuitry that charges the battery—so charging equipment can’t hurt your phone’s battery. That said, some budget models of chargers can be poorly made or use low-quality components. A poor-quality charger may damage your phone or expose you to dangerous currents.
8. There are two other tactics worth experimenting with.
Some say to close all unused apps from the background. Others say it doesn’t matter and you can leave them all open. In fact, if you close them only to restart the app, it may require more power from the phone battery.
Some sources say to turn off and disable GPS, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi. But, say you are in range of a strong wi-fi signal (which isn’t in the middle of a most corn fields) your phone will use less power with a good wi-fi connection. So if you are working in the shed, next to the farm office, you could save battery by relying on wi-fi.