Over the past few years, we all have acquired a certain dependency on our cell phones. Not only are they a means of communication, but a source of navigation, endless entertainment, information and much more. The capabilities of the run-of-the-mill smartphone are truly amazing and far beyond what we ever could have imagined back when we were all rocking our Moto RAZRs. There is a catch, however. While phones are getting bigger and faster, batteries are getting smaller and OEMs don't seem to care.
I was spoiled back in the day with a slew of BlackBerry handsets, most of which could last two or three days per charge with moderate to heavy use. But I've recently lost hope as even RIM has given battery technology less consideration as they struggle to keep their head above the water. The change is only subtle, but it's definitely noticeable to a BlackBerry veteran. The Bold 9930, which I've been using for a few weeks now has been no better than the iPhone, with roughly the same usage between the two. It's not horrible, but it definitely isn't the battery life I've learned to expect from BlackBerrys.
With powerful, compact processors, great cameras, large displays and mind-blowing network speed capabilities, battery technology has become an afterthought. It's as if OEMs feel it's okay their superphone only gets five or six hours per charge with minimal use. Nonetheless, it seems pretty futile to sit and complain about waning battery life in smartphones. Making it a full day on a single charge is an increasingly difficult thing to do. So how does one cope? There are a few different options, and I've tried them all. None of them are quite as nice as the phone simply lasting the entire day on its own. But hey, times are rough and a man has to do what he can to get by.
This is probably the easiest way to make it through a day when carrying a phone with less than stellar stamina. Charge up a spare battery or two before a long day out and when one battery drains, pop in a spare for another full charge, instantly. The obvious drawback to this is the extra luggage and the fact that not every phone has removable batteries. If your phone does have a removable battery, you can usually purchase them through your carrier or online from anywhere from $15 to $40.
Extended batteries are also a great way to get an extra few hours out of your phone. These will usually add a little more bulk, but it's worth it to many for those spare few hours. Extended batteries generally run from $40 to $80. Yeah, batteries are not cheap.
Battery packs are the only truly portable way to recharge your battery while on the go, and there are several different options to go with like the Mophie Juice Pack, ZAGGsparq, etc. Charge the block up before you leave and you can have anywhere from one to four full recharges. This methoed has three huge caveats, though: the chargers are expensive (usually around $100), the blocks are fairly bulky and you have to wait for the phone to charge. If you have a backpack or bag and can throw the phone in it for a nice long charge, this is the best path to take as they will typically work with nearly any phone.
If I were to guess, this is the method of choice for most people. Carrying a spare AC charger, USB cable or a car charger with you at all times makes for an easy way to refuel when you're near an outlet or USB port. But again, it's slow and the chances of you coming across a power supply may be slim depending on where you are. Lucky for us, some adverts at bus stops around major cities have begun integrating refueling stations along the streets. Take what you can get.
I wonder how long this will last before they start charging – "Insert $1 for a half hour of charging."
When all else fails you, there is always a sure shot way to squeeze a little extra juice out of your phone. Data usage, voice calls and your phone simply talking to the nearest towers are the cause of a large portion of your battery drain. If none of the other methods are available to you, turning on airplane mode (or turning off mobile data) and using the phone on an as needed basis can increase your phone's battery quite dramatically. The obvious problem with this is in airplane mode, nobody can contact you in case of an emergency, so toggling the data connection as you need it may be the best route if you can't totally sacrifice communication.
As always, I'm interested in hearing what you ladies and gents have come up with to make it through the day with your phone. Being a huge advocate of long-lasting batteries, I've tried a million different techniques. Some work, some don't. And a lot of them are more trouble than they're worth. I'm always open to new ideas and techniques. This is why I'm asking you for your input. What are your preferred methods of making your phone last through the day?