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Smart phone battery blues

By Roman Verzub

March 1, 2012

Technology is astounding, and this is evident to the largest number of people in just how much they can do with the tiny smartphone that fits in their pocket.

But it is not without its caveats. The battery on old cell phones last days, if not weeks at a time, but smartphones sometimes barely last a day because many smartphone owners, incorrectly think about their devices—they are not cell phones, they are portable computers that can also make calls.

How long do portable devices last? The battery on notebooks doesn’t last for weeks at a time, so why should portable calling-capable computers?

To get a longer battery life you need to turn your smartphone into more of a telephone and less of a computer.

Fortunately, Android—the operating system found on numerous mobile devices—has a built-in widget for that, it’s called “Power Control.”

Turning off features like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS when you’re not using them saves a lot of battery, but there’s a further step.

Mobile data networks are either 2G, 3G, or 4G, and are the ways that most applications download and upload data from and to the Internet. Turning off this mobile data is the key to better battery life.

One can, for example press the “menu” button, press settings, go to wireless and networks, then scroll down to mobile networks, and there’s the checkbox to turn off mobile data.

Keeping 3G and the other services off increases battery life significantly.

But apps are nice, after all, and fun (and sometimes even informational). There needs to be a way to turn off and on data.

A free app called “JuiceDefender” on the Android market promises to “Reclaim your battery! Save power and extend battery life.”

Running all the time in the background, “JuiceDefender” attempts to, among other things, turn off 3G when you aren’t using your phone and to turn it back on when you are.
That’s one idea, but giving up personal control and responsibility is not for everyone.
“JuiceDefender” has a great widget however called Mobile Data Toggle and allows for two-touch access to turning off and on mobile data.

The only thing remaining is a little bug—maybe it’s from the operating system, maybe it’s from the carrier.

When turning mobile data back on sometimes it doesn’t actually go on, usually requiring a full reboot of the phone.

The solution to this is on the Android market as well, in the form of the small, free application called “Restart Connections.” With one touch the phone will attempt to do the same kind of reconnecting it does when the phone is turned on.