I think we all get to the point, at times, where daily life can feel a bit repetitive as we go about our normal routines. Given that (and the fact that we experienced our first snow during last weekend’s soccer games), when an opportunity arose for Thirtyseven4 to sponsor a major church/technology event in Southern California, I immediately saw the personal…eerrr professional benefits! I knew it was a fit for our business, and my soul needed a little Cali sunshine. I was all in. I’ve taken numerous business trips to the San Francisco area over the years; however, this would be our first business travel to the Los Angeles region. And because this was new territory and a family friendly conference, we made the decision to travel together as a family. I will say that the conference provided me (and my family) an opportunity to temporarily get away from the norm, and it re-energized my passion and appreciation for my job and the talents God has given me to share with the world.
Now, that being said, the re-charging of the soul was slightly delayed. I am a person who likes direct flights, but sometimes given the Departing and Arriving airports, it simply isn’t possible. This was one such case…we had a connection in Denver with a small layover. Our flight took off on time (5:00 AM EST), however, when our plane was 70 miles out from reaching our Denver destination, the flight attendant alerted us to the fact that there was dense fog at the Denver airport and that our plane would be doing “donuts” in the sky until the fog lifted. 2 hours later (Yes, two hours later!), the flight attendant made a new announcement that our plane only had about 20 more minutes of fuel (Yikes!), so the fog either need to lift within the next five minutes or we were going to be re-directed to the Colorado Springs airport to re-fuel. (Is anyone else hyper-ventilating?) Praise the Lord we eventually landed in Denver. Every passenger’s connections on the entire plane had been missed, and we were told that the quickest route to Orange County was for our family of five to board a new plane (headed to San Jose: Northern California), hangout for a 3 hour layover and then hop on an express jet to head to our final designation. To say it was a long day of travel is an understatement (arrived after 7PM PST), but the important thing is we got there safe.
As I mentioned, my wife and three children (age 8 and under) accompanied me on this trip. My wife is amazing at preparing “things to do” to keep the kids busy and happy on flights (i.e. School work, travel surprises—have you seen those “blink watches”?, tiny crafts and of course markers and crayons.) And though we try our best to keep it at minimum, plane activities for the kids (especially in desperate situations) can include mobile devices, and as you know it may seem impossible at times to keep those gadgets juiced. With minutes turning into hours, and hours morphing into many more hours, planned activities dry up, and school work is finished. My article this month will focus on getting the most out of your smartphone battery in case a situation like our west-bound flight happens to you. As much as we all hate to admit it, sometimes these devices come into handy.
Before we begin, I think it is important to differentiate between two common terms regarding smartphone batteries: Battery Life and Battery Lifespan. Battery Life can be thought of as how long a device can work on a single charge before needing recharged. Battery Lifespan is how long your device battery lasts until it dies or needs to be replaced.
Let’s start with some obvious performance suggestions to maximize your devices Battery Life-
1. Turn down the Brightness of your screen. The brighter the screen, the more drain on your battery.
2. Utilize a Wi-Fi connection rather than your device carrier’s data plan when possible, as accessing data over your cellular network increases the strain on a battery opposed to a Wi-Fi connection. However, please note past articles, where we outlined security risks of keeping a Wi-Fi connection available on public locations.
3. Make sure that high-usage, power draining apps that utilize GPS, etc. are turned off when not in use. There have been times when I use an app like Maps for navigation, arrive at my target designation and forgot to turn the app off.
4. Avoid using or storing your device in extreme temperatures. Research has shown that mobile devices work best and at peak performance at temperatures ranging from 32 F to 95 F. I understand that sometimes, especially during harsh Ohio winters or even an October weekend in Orange County (can you believe temperatures topped 104 degrees for two days of our visit to Cali!), that isn’t always possible. But when applicable, having your device in a safe temperature zone will certainly help preserve your battery.
5. Lastly, while it may seem like a hassle and ‘one more thing to do’, installing manufacture suggested upgrades can help as well, as the upgrade may include energy saving / performance updates integrated within the upgrade.
Btw- Many of the manufacturers of mobile devices now incorporate a ‘Low Power Mode’ or similar feature. This type of feature will automatically do many of the things (i.e. brightness, turning off some app functionality, etc.) listed above for the user to conserve battery life.
With the general performance tips covered, let’s move on to maybe some not so obvious methods for maximizing both Battery Life and Battery Lifespan. Let’s first start with the idea of “convenience” over “long term health”. Let me explain what I mean by this regarding our mobile device battery…how many of us after a long hard day (and I am totally guilty of this one!) plug in our phones right before we call it a night so that by the next morning the phone is fully charged and ready to go? Did you know that leaving a mobile device continually plugged in after it has reached a full charge can (and often times will) shorten the overall Battery Lifespan? The complication here is that when the battery reaches a full charge it continually receives small dose electric charges keeping it at 100%. These tiny charges place excess and unnecessary stress on the battery of the device. My son found this out the hard way as it occurred not with a smartphone but with his Wii U GamePad. Excessive charging damages batteries.
Keeping with the idea of “convenience” over “long term health”, another sure way to limit your Battery Lifespan goes hand in hand with the plugging in your battery at night- that is- waiting until the end of the day to first begin your battery charging process when the battery charge has dipped below 10%. While it may be inconvenient to continually plug in your phone at short intervals through the day, it will save life on your battery. Many times we wait until the charge has dropped below the 10% mark or even more detrimental the 5% mark. Charging a battery from these extremely low levels up to 100% is very harmful to the battery. Instead don’t wait until the battery is about dead before charging. Charge the battery at intervals throughout the day and disconnect the charge before it hits the 100% fully charged mark.
And finally, in addition to everything else mentioned, you could also invest in a couple power banks to have on-hand to keep your devices charged. But in the end, it is also one more thing to remember, to plug-in (…and un-plug!), and to carry about with you.
In summary, it’s possible that some of our basic tips may be fresh to you (dimming screens, utilizing a local Wi-Fi (responsibly!) instead of connecting to your carriers, and turning off unnecessary apps. And I hope the tip about not over-charging can shed some light (or longer-lasting light!) if you have questions about why you lose a charge so quickly.
Phones have become such an essential and personalized accessory that we all have a vested interest in keeping them powered up and useful for as long as possible. I learned many things through our California trip, and it’s uncanny how many parallels I began to make concerning me and cell phone batteries as I made the comparison:
•Don’t wait until your battery is almost totally drained to recharge!
•When you are fully charged—get back out into the world and do your job. Don’t just keep sucking energy.
•Embrace technology. Get the “latest updates” on the world and for your device. It will make you a more informed person and positive changes are always being made.
And my last tip: Take direct flights. Okay, so this isn’t a direct correlation, but this one relates to mobile devices because if you are delayed (our trip out to California lasted 17 hours of travel), your battery will die, your kids will cry, your wife will sigh.