There has been a lot of talk recently about the new low power mode in iOS 9, which is currently being beta tested by developers. If you are an Android user you may already have this feature. Enable it to make the battery last longer!

Apple’s introduction of a power saving mode in iOS 9 is similar to the features that are already on some Android phones and they enable you to control the CPU, screen, Wi-Fi, data usage and a lot more. Using these features can extend the life of the battery by many hours.

Low power mode

One of the actions that Apple’s low power mode takes is to reduce the CPU performance. It runs more slowly of course, but this means that it draws less power and consequently the battery lasts a bit longer. You can do this on a Samsung phone and here is a Samsung Galaxy S4 running Android Lollipop 5.01:

 Power saving mode 

Go to Settings, tap My Device, scroll down the screen a little and select Power Saving Mode. Ignore the on/off switch for the moment. There are three options and the top one, CPU performance, puts a limit on the maximum speed of the processor.

CPUs these days do not run at a constant rate and they speed up and slow down automatically depending on the demands made by the operating system and apps. So turning this on doesn’t exactly slow it down all the time, it limits the CPU's top speed. The result is that the battery lasts longer.

The phone is slower, but the loss of performance is small and you might not notice it with many of the apps you use. Some apps require very little processing power anyway, so this setting might have little effect on your activities. I run my Samsung Galaxy S4 in low power mode all the time and only occasionally switch it off, such as for playing games. It works fine in low power mode and the battery lasts longer.

Reduce screen brightness

There is an option to decrease the screen brightness to save power. I do not enable this and the reason is that the phone tends to set it too low. I don’t like dim and murky screens where everything is hard to see. I like bright vibrant colours. The screen is hard to see outside on a sunny day anyway and when it is being dimmed by the power saving mode, it is even harder to see. I manually adjust the brightness according to whether I am indoors or outside.

You should try this option because it may be different on your phone and also because screens have improved since my old Galaxy S4 was released.

Turn off haptic feedback

Haptic feedback can also be disabled to save power. This is the vibration and sounds that accompany actions you perform on your phone, such as typing on the keyboard. It not only uses power, it is also irritating and switching it off removes the irritation and prolongs battery life, two very important effects.

Additional power saving settings

There are lots of other settings and these may vary from phone to phone. On my Samsung for example, in the My Device section of Settings is Smart Screen, Air View and Voice Control. Smart screen keeps the screen on while you are looking at it, pauses video when you turn your head away and so on. The trouble is, it must power up the camera to study your face and this adds to the battery drain. Turn it off.

Air View lets you hover your finger over the screen and the phone responds, such as by enlarging photos or showing information. You don’t even need to touch it. Turn it off to reduce power usage.

Voice Control lets you perform common functions by speaking to your phone. This can be useful in some circumstances, such as when driving a car and you can shout “Answer” or “Reject” when the phone rings. You can also control music with voice commands too. The trouble is, the microphone is constantly monitored to listen for commands and this drains the battery faster. Turn it off.

On the Connections tab in settings is NFC, S Beam, Nearby Devices and Screen Mirroring. Turning these off can save battery power and make your phone last longer. You probably don’t use them anyway - when did you last S Beam files to someone?

 Save power on your phone 

Lastly, you can turn off Wi-Fi to reduce power usage and make the battery last longer. This must be combined with settings within apps, however. Some apps have a setting that limits their usage to Wi-Fi only. For example, the Google Play News app has a Download via Wi-Fi only setting.

 Save data on your phone 

Many other apps have similar settings and they use a lot less power when you switch off the Wi-Fi. You do need to check each app though and there isn’t a global setting, one switch to rule them all. I always look for and set this option whenever a new app is installed anyway, because it reduces data usage. One tap to turn off the Wi-Fi puts lots of apps into low power mode when you have done this.

Bluetooth is another wireless technology that many people can turn off. It is essential in some situations, such as when wearing a wireless earpiece, or to connect to the car or other devices. If you are not actually using it, however, turn it off. Only turn it on when you want to use it. It is low power technology, but when it is switched off it is a no-power technology and it makes your battery last longer.

Action points to extend battery life:

  • Enable power saving mode
  • Limit CPU performance
  • Turn off haptic feedback
  • Turn down the screen brightness
  • Turn off Bluetooth
  • Turn off NFC, S Beam, Nearby devices
  • Turn off Wi-Fi
  • Limit apps data usage to Wi-Fi