When I became the proud owner of a Nokia Lumia 920, I was delighted to learn that I would be the lucky beneficiary of a free wireless charging pad, apparently worth about £100. Although there were a few hoops to jump through, the pad eventually came a few weeks later, enabling me to simply put my phone down to charge it, rather than struggle working out which way the USB cable connects to my phone.
As wonderful as this advantage in charging is, of course, I suspected early on that it had led to me charging my phone more than before. Presented in a white finish to match my phone, the charging pad became the de facto spot on my desk for my Windows Phone, meaning that from 9-5 every day (and often beyond) the phone was being charged.
In order to minimise the actual charging that was taking place, I therefore came up with a strategy to save money (electricity is cheaper in the evening) and minimise the need for charging.
- I would use the wireless charging pad less.
- I would keep tighter control over battery usage.
The following apps and tips have worked for me and will hopefully work for you too.
Use Battery Saver
The first thing you should check on a Windows Phone to keep on top of your power management is the Battery Saver tool, found in the Settings menu.
Via the initial screen you can toggle Battery Saver off and on. When switched on, calls and texts can still be received but email must be manually synced. A heart symbol appears on the battery indicator when Battery Saver is in use, and details about the remaining battery life and time remaining are displayed near the bottom of the screen.
At the bottom of the screen you will see the Advanced button. This controls the behaviour of Battery Saver, allowing you to choose between battery conservation options When battery is low, activate Battery Saver Now until next charge and Always – this last option is not recommended.
With all of this covered and understood, the next thing you should be focusing on is how often and how long your phone is connected to the Internet.
Whether it is wireless networking or your carrier’s mobile Internet connection, persistent or overuse of either will naturally result in lower batteries as data is transferred to and from cyberspace. Sure, some of it will be minimal – the emails and social networking, for instance – but there will also be larger amounts such as apps and games, audio and video data streamed to your phone and perhaps some file transfers.
The best approach for longer battery life is to make sure your mobile Internet and Wi-Fi connections are disabled when not in use.
You can use shortcut tiles to increase accessibility to these screens.
Keep An Eye On Your Battery Level
In the top-right corner of your Windows Phone 8 display, the time is displayed while your phone is unlocked. With the lock screen displayed, a small battery icon is shown, relating an approximate level of power. You can display the same icon by tapping the top of the screen when your phone is unlocked.
The icon is sadly rather approximate, which is why it is a good idea to look into the power levels in more detail. The first thing you might try is open the Battery Saver tool as mentioned above, but you could also try installing one of the many battery level indicator apps. I use Battery Level for WP8 which is available from the Windows Phone Store with a free trial or $0.99.
Use The Correct Brightness On Windows Phone
Your phone’s display can impact on the battery life too, especially if the phone is used constantly without being put into standby (a single tap of the power button).
The limited background colour choices don’t help here; if you use a white background, switching this to dark in Settings > Theme will make a difference, as will opening Brightness in the Settings menu and switching between Low, Medium and Light brightness. You might also use the Automatically adjust option.
Having your phone setup for reading in sunlight might also affect battery life. You can toggle this and Battery Saver brightness restrictions in Settings > Display+touch.
Ensure You Have Closed Power Draining Apps
One final check is to make sure that you have closed apps that might drain power while running in the background. With Windows Phone 8, Microsoft’s mobile platform has better options for dealing with task management.
For games, for instance, you might hold the back button, select the game and then exit it fully. Although open tasks are “tombstoned” (meaning that they are frozen in state until reselected) there are some that will keep running in the background.
You can check these by opening Settings > applications > background tasks, where a list of apps with permissions to run as background tasks will be listed.
To toggle, tap the Block button. If you only wish the app to be temporarily disabled, check the Turn background tasks back on for this app the next time I open it box.
Conclusion: Save Battery, Charge Less!
On a day-to-day basis using a mobile phone probably doesn’t cost all that much in terms of electricity, and while there are there documented advantages of discharging your device every so often, as a society we have come to rely heavily on charging our smartphones so that we can remain connected.
The steps I take are largely for personal benefit – if I am called out somewhere to pick up family members I don’t want to find that my phone is low on battery as I might miss a work related email. As a self-employed blogger and technology writer, this is something I would rather avoid.
However, it is interesting to consider that while a single person reducing the amount of time they allow their phone to be recharging might seem like a drop in the ocean, if we all gave our recharging behaviour more consideration we could all make a difference – whatever smartphone platform we use.