How To Make Your Phone Battery Last Longer

Experts share their advice for preserving battery life when you don't have a charger handy.

We’ve all been there: You’re out of the house for most of the day, or exploring a new city on a trip, and you realize you didn’t bring a phone charger with you.

This realization often comes around the time you notice your battery is running low. And sometimes, buying a new charger isn’t an option. Having your phone battery die is hardly the end of the world, but it can certainly pose challenges if you need to navigate an unfamiliar place or keep in contact with people.

Fortunately, there are ways to extend your battery life and buy yourself some time before you can reach a charger. Below, tech experts share their tips.

Turn on low power mode

“Most phones nowadays have a battery-saving feature, and iPhones specifically have a feature called ‘low power mode,’” said technology reviewer and journalist Elly Bailey, aka Elly Awesome. “This reduces or alters many features to save battery life, such as your phone’s display brightness, automatic downloads, background app refresh and more. So, if you can toggle this on, it’s a no-brainer.”

While iPhones automatically ask users if they’d like to turn on low power mode once the battery falls below a 20% charge, turning it on even sooner can help save more power. You can find the “low power mode” option under the Battery tab in Settings on iPhones and the analogous “battery saving mode” feature in the same place on Android phones.

Disable location services

“Some apps keep close track [of] your location, even when you’re not using them,” noted Jessica Naziri, founder of the technology and lifestyle blog TechSesh. “They do this through a process called Location Services, and although it’s meant to be unobtrusive, it can take up precious amounts of battery power.”

Naziri advised going into your settings and turning off location tracking for all your apps at once, or going through them one by one and making choices. Turning off location services means those apps will use less power.

Bailey made a similar recommendation: “If you’re really desperate to keep that last bit of charge, I would suggest going into your location services and turning it off ― if this isn’t a safety issue for you.”

Reduce screen brightness

“Your phone’s display is one of its most power-hungry components, so if you’ve got the brightness slider pegged at maximum, it’s going to drain your battery in no time,” said technology writer and video creator Michael Fisher, aka MrMobile. “If you’re not outdoors in broad daylight, bumping that brightness down a little ― or a lot ― is a great way to conserve battery power.”

Naziri noted to “make sure the ‘auto-brightness’ is turned on, so the screen will automatically dim if you’re in a dark setting.”

Go into dark mode

Reducing screen brightness isn’t the only display adjustment you can make to help extend your battery life.

“If your phone has an OLED screen (most modern high-end phones do), switching your software to dark mode can save battery, since dark pixels on an OLED panel take no power to illuminate,” Fisher said. “They’re just off.”

Dark mode is available under Display & Brightness in iPhone settings and under Display in Android settings.

While having your phone battery die is hardly the end of the world, it can certainly pose challenges.
Xavier Lorenzo via Getty Images
While having your phone battery die is hardly the end of the world, it can certainly pose challenges.

Turn off Wi-Fi

Many features that make smartphones such a great convenience ― like Wi-Fi access ― naturally use a good bit of battery power. So if your goal is to prevent reaching 0% before you can get to a phone charger, disable those functions.

“Turn off extra features like Bluetooth or Wi-Fi if you’re not using them,” Bailey advised.

Close battery-draining apps

If you want to preserve battery, pay attention to the apps you have open on your phone and what they’re doing.

“Those apps that suck up our time are also the biggest battery-drainers,” Naziri noted. “I’m talking about social media apps including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, YouTube and WhatsApp. And if you’re low on juice, this is your reminder that FaceTime and playing games can kill the battery much faster than you can reach a charger.”

Watching videos and playing games are taxing on batteries, so keep this in mind if you’re trying to preserve power. Turn off push notifications for apps and close them strategically.

“Make sure background apps aren’t performing power-intensive tasks ― e.g. Spotify downloading a new playlist, or Google Photos performing a backup,” Fisher advised. “Note that this doesn’t mean you should go on a swiping spree, closing out all your apps. That might feel good, but it causes more harm than good by interfering with your phone’s automatic background management. The preferred approach here is a precision strike, not carpet bombing.”

Turn on airplane mode

“If you’re using your phone for offline features, or otherwise don’t need constant connectivity before you can find a charger, toggle airplane mode,” Fisher suggested. “This disables all the wireless radios, which saves a fair amount of power.”

Turning on airplane mode preserves power and serves as a good reminder to stay off your phone until you can plug it into a charger.

“Personally, when I put my phone on airplane mode, I only remove it when I need to do an urgent or necessary action,” said Marie-Philippe Gill, creator of Girl Knows Tech.

Don’t skip app updates

In addition to the above steps you can take in the moment to preserve battery, there are more general ways to promote longer battery life.

“Don’t skip app updates,” Naziri advised. “If you’ve been putting updates off, this is your sign ― improving efficiency and battery management along the way. In fact, you should probably just turn on auto-update if you can.”

Be mindful about charging

It’s also important to keep overall battery health in mind when you are able to charge your phone.

“Fast charging is convenient, but it reduces the overall longevity of your battery,” Fisher noted. “If your phone has a ‘smart charging’ or ‘healthy charging’ mode and you’re not in a rush (say, if you’re sleeping and charging overnight), use it. It will charge the battery slowly and prolong its life.”

He also advised carrying an external battery pack, or asking a friend if you can use their phone to charge yours through the “power share” or “reverse wireless charging” features, if that’s an option.

“I usually try to follow Apple’s guidelines on battery health,” Gill said. “For example, I try to minimize the amount of battery cycles that my devices go through.”

Naziri said she generally avoids charging her phone to a full 100% when possible.

“A lithium-ion battery doesn’t like to be fully charged or warm,” she explained. “The lithium-ion batteries in our phones last longest when we keep them charged between 30% and 80% throughout the day — not just topped up to 100%, then down to zero. Also, wireless charging is so convenient, but batteries prefer a slow and steady input. Consider using a standard charger when you can.”

If you do need to charge on the go, here are a few of the most highly-rated phone chargers on Amazon, including a solar-powered option:

A two-pack of chargers
Each of these compact and slim devices holds multiple charges for iPhones, Galaxy phones, Pixel phones and more. They each have two USB output ports and feature a grippy design that makes them easy to hold. These chargers have 4.6 out of 5 stars and 56,018 five-star ratings on Amazon.

Promising review: "I bought this 2 pack to replace my old power bank which was struggling to fully charge my phone more than once. I wasn't expecting too much cause these costed less per unit than other power banks with the same 10000mAh capacity, but I was pleasantly surprised after using them. Both colors look sleek and I can charge my phone up to 3 times from dead or critical battery when the power banks are fully charged." — Fernando Xavier Padilla
A solar powered portable charger
This solar-powered charger is ideal for people who love going camping. Not only is it powered by the sun, but it's waterproof, shock-resistant and has an LED flashlight and a compass as well. This reliable, durable and easy-to-use charger is compatible with iPhone, Samsung, HTC, Nexus, Go-Pro cameras, tablets and other USB devices. It has 4.3 out of 5 stars and 5,883 five-star reviews.

Promising review: "We got three of these for camping. Charged them up via USB when they arrived. It's been 12 days, and we've charged our phones 5x off one of them, without having to recharge it at all, except for letting it sit out in a sunny window for a few hours each afternoon. Based on how many phone charges we got out of a single USB charge plus a little sunlight, I feel very happy with this product. They're pretty lightweight, the included carabiner makes it easy to hang from a backpack or in a window, and the included flashlight is a nice touch. I also appreciate dual USB ports, so you can charge two devices at once. My only tiny issue is that the power button for the flashlight feature is small and hard to distinguish from the rest of the colored bits on the edges of the charger. You sort of have to memorize where it is for quick access should you need a flashlight. Now that I know where the power button is, it's not an issue. Many of these solar chargers are WAY more expensive than this model. Why pay more when this one works so well? Glad I chose this brand and model. Superhappy with this purchase!" — Amazonmasterz
A high-speed charger that doubles as a flashlight
This ultra-thin power bank holds multiple charges and is compatible with a range of smartphones, tablets and other devices like AirPods, fitness trackers, smartwatches and headphones. It has 4.7 out of 5 stars and 12,351 five-star reviews on Amazon.

Promising review: "My family and I just went to Disney world for a week and this really helped all 3 of us keep our phones charges while we used them all day at the parks. I have an iPhone and my parents both have androids and it charged two phones at the same time without any issues. Also, I was able to fly with the charger which is great! I just didn’t pack it in my suitcase or use it on the plane. I like how the paw print on the front lights up blue to tell you how much of a charge you have left and I also like the book light that came with it but will probably never use it. We used the mesh bag it comes with to stack our two different charging cords then when we needed to charge we had everything we needed in the bag. If you’re on the fence, get it. It was worth it." — Kimberly
A charger with a smart LED display
This quick-charging device has insanely high charging capacity with the ability to hold more than eight charges for an iPhone 12, while the LED display screen makes it easy to know how much you've got left. It has 4.3 out of 5 stars and 8,011 five-star ratings.

Promising review: "Very handy. I bought this for my son who uses a tablet at school. He has special needs so he is unable to write. Having a low battery could derail him for the entire day. This is super easy to use and charges quickly. I'm also impressed with the size. Although it is heavier, it's actually smaller than my phone. I also appreciate that I can use it to charge my phone wirelessly." — Darling Nikki
An ultra-high capacity and super-fast phone charger
With the ability to charge two phones at once, this fast-acting charger will get you out of any pinch. It's compatible with a range of devices like an iPad, smartwatch, Airpods, Samsung Galaxy, most other smartphones, tablets and more. It can charge devices up to eight times, so you can go about your day with peace of mind. It has 4.5 out of 5 stars and 15,244 five-star ratings.

Promising review: "I dont write reviews much but, this needed to be said about this product. I have had it about a year now and goes everywhere with me. 2 weeks ago im charging my phone and bluetooth speaker while walking in the woods with my dog on our property, as i lift many 16ozer's During the day and night I dont realized that i misplaced it, until morning after a Long day of cold rain. Couldn't find it in camper so I assume i dropped in the woods. well 2 weeks later after many days of rain ice and snow, with temps between 29f and 40 f I was walking though woods again when my dog happened upon it, frozen but still able to produce 1 led light. brought in camper, warmed it up for a while and charged it up. i Can honestly say that it is charging my phone right now while righting this review. great product." — urbanmusher
A lightweight slim external charger
This wildly popular charger is incredibly slim and lightweight compared to other options and is compatible with most smartphones and devices. It has 4.6 out of 5 stars and a whopping 47,621 five-star reviews.

Promising review: "I like the solid and sleek construction. Fits easily in my pocket. Most importantly it works! Fast charging, enough capacity to charge my phone multiple times over multiple days, and withstands plenty of me dropping it and yanking the cord out awkwardly and accidentally. This is the 4th Anker charger I’ve owned. I share them with my family and use all 4." — Joe Hull

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