The biggest problem with Apple’s iPhone 5 is the battery.
Yes, the battery lasts for a long time if you don’t actually use your iPhone. But given that the whole reason to have an iPhone is to use it, having to not use it is a bummer.
Normally, I only have to be away from a power outlet for an hour or two at a time. So, although I experience considerable anxiety as I watch the battery steadily drain away while I’m out and about, I usually make it to an outlet with plenty to spare.
(This is easy when my destination is the office or home. If I’m out in the wild, though, I have to ransack any building or meeting room or restaurant I go into for a socket. And then shamelessly stuff my charger into it.)
A couple of weeks ago, though, I had to navigate around a foreign city checking out museums and riding buses and subways all day. This meant that I not only needed to use my iPhone (Google Maps!), I had to figure out a way to make the battery last 12 hours.
This was a harrowing experience.
The first day, I failed–and my iPhone conked out just when I needed it the most.
But then, necessity being the mother of invention, I experimented. And, eventually, I figured out some simple tricks that allowed me to nurse my iPhone through a whole day.
In case you should ever happen to find yourself in a similar situation, here are those tricks. I’ll show you how to do them below.
1. Turn off “auto-brightness” on your screen and turn the brightness of your screen down to where you can barely see it. That screen is a major battery hog. If you want your battery to last, you need to use it as little as possible, and you need to turn it down so far that it is hard to see when you do use it. Yes, this defeats the purpose of having a bright, sharp screen. But it is what it is.
2. Turn your screen off the instant you finish looking at it. If you’re like me, you had no idea you could easily turn your phone’s screen off. But you can! All you have to do is quickly click the button on the top of your phone that (if held down for a couple of seconds) turns your phone on and off. If you click it quickly, your screen will turn off! Then just click it quickly again to turn the screen back on. Importantly, this does NOT turn your whole phone off. Just the screen. I was astounded when I discovered this trick. So simple and handy.
3. Turn off all your apps the instant you finish using them. If you’re like me, you spent your first four years of iPhone ownership not knowing that you could turn apps off when they seized up or stopped working (or when they drained your battery). But you can! And it’s not too hard to do it. It’s also critical to do it if you want to get through the day, especially if you’re using a “maps” app like Google Maps. If left to its own devices, Google Maps might suck your battery dry all by itself in an hour. So you have to turn that thing off. And while you’re doing it, you might as well turn off some other apps, too.
Now, there are some other truly emergency measures you can take if you need your phone to last, say, a whole weekend (like when you forget the only charge cord in the house that, because of Apple’s cord-switcheroo, will charge an iPhone 5–which I do every other weekend). Basically, in those cases, you’re going to have to use your iPhone only in short bursts and then turn it completely off for hours. But hopefully you won’t ever find yourself in that situation.
Hopefully, you’ll just occasionally need to spend a day away from a power outlet and, therefore, need to employ the basic conservation measures above.
Here’s a pictorial tutorial on how to do that.
HOW TO TURN AUTO-BRIGHTNESS OFF AND YOUR BRIGHTNESS DOWN
First, click on your phone’s general “Settings” app. (The grey app icon with the gears on the front that came installed on your phone).
You will see the screen below. Now click the “Brightness & Wallpaper” section (red arrow).
When you see the screen below, do two things:
1) Turn “Auto-Brightness” OFF. If you don’t do this, you screen will keep getting super-bright in outside light, demolishing your battery.
2) Turn your “Brightness” down by moving the slider to the left. This will be a painful and depressing thing to do, because your beautiful screen will get dim and hard to read. But better hard to read than dead. (And you can always turn it up momentarily if you’re having a really tough time.)
HOW TO TURN YOUR iPHONE SCREEN OFF
This is remarkably easy. Just click the the on/off button on the top of the phone (see below). Don’t hold it down (that will turn your phone off.) Just click it. And when you want to use the phone, click it again.
HOW TO TURN YOUR APPS OFF
This one’s trickier. But it will pay huge dividends in protecting your battery life.
First, click the HOME button on your iPhone twice in succession (The HOME button is the round physical button at the bottom of your phone when you’re holding it upright.)
This should produce a screen that looks like this:
The apps at the bottom of that screen are the ones that are “running.” Sometimes, if you’re like me, you’ll have a dozen or more apps running. Some of those babies are sucking on your battery even when you don’t think you’re using them. So let’s turn them off!
To turn off the apps, first put your finger on any app icon and hold it down. (Don’t tap it. That will cause it to open. Just put your finger on it and hold.)
That should produce a screen that looks like this. Your app icons will now be jiggling. And they will have a little red circle with a line through it in the upper left corner:
Now, tap the red circle of every app you want to close. I’ll close TweetDeck.
Voila! It’s closed! (And gone.)
Close as many apps as you can. And absolutely close your map app the instant you finish using it. That thing will kill you.
So those are some simple tricks that should help you get your iPhone through the day.
Now, we just have to persuade Apple to build a phone with a bigger battery!