The Samsung Galaxy S4 is pretty good on battery life even when using it as a wireless hotspot. I mainly use mine for phone calls and email correspondence so I rarely have to recharge before the day ends. Even when the power bar is in the red – completely depleted of energy – I can still squeeze thirty to forty minutes of emergency usage out of it.
Today I want to show you how to get the most out of your Samsung battery because although it typically lasts a full day on a single overnight charge, if you have a busy day at work or you’re streaming tons of HD videos via Youtube, you’ll definitely zap the life from your phone before sunset.
Fortunately, there are few easy things you can do to make your phone last a little longer. Here are my top six:
- Enable Power Save and Disable Extras
- Tweak the Display Settings
- End Task of the Hungriest Apps
- Decrease the Sync Frequency of Email
- Keep the device cool
- Consider a portable external battery backup.
Let’s jump in.
1. Enable Power saving and Disable extras
From the Galaxy S4 home screen: swipe down from the top with two fingers to display the feature list. One finger displays the notification drawer.
There are over a dozen features here but you only need a few.
If you’re not sure whether or not you need a feature, just touch and hold it to open settings with a description. For example, I didn’t know what the Air View feature was so I touched and held my finger there for a second to see what it was.
Unless you have a good reason to do otherwise, I recommend only enabling Mobile Data, Sync and Power Saving. You can enable others as you need them but limiting your feature set to these crucial three will give you maximum battery life.
The Power Saving feature is good because it reduces the CPU speed, screen brightness and turns off power hungry background colors. Incidentally, the display brightness drains power the fastest so enabling Power Saving mode really helps because it dims the display.
2. Work the Display Settings
Swipe down from the top with one finger to open the notifications drawer then press the little gear near the upper right corner to summon the settings screen.
Touch the My device tab along the top edge of the screen then choose the Display option.
There are four settings we’re going to tweak to maximize your battery:
- Screen timeout
- Display battery percentage
Change your wallpaper to a plain black background.
The Galaxy S4 uses a display technology called active-matrix organic light-emitting diode (AMOLED) which is basically a tiny grid of LEDs that emit light in response to an electric current.
AMOLED depends on what’s known as a thin-film-transitor (TFT) array which is a bunch of super tiny switches that control the flow of current to individual pixels. Traditional CRT or Plasma TVs cannot achieve a true black color because they blend red, green, and blue at low intensities which results in a very dark gray. Conversely, AMOLED actually turns off the pixel to get true black; therefore, the phone uses less power with an all black backgrounds.
To get started, tap this black wallpaper from your basic Galaxy S4 browser then tap and hold to save a copy on your phone.
Next, back in Settings > My Device > Display Option > Wallpaper choose the Gallery and browse to your Downloads to apply the black background.
Uncheck Automatic brightness, drag the brightness level all the way to the left and touch OK.
Change the screen timeout to 15 seconds; this might get annoying because your phone will constantly seem like it’s turning off but remember; you’re probably only going to use these settings when you’re in an emergency and need every last drop of power juice from your phone.
Convenience is subordinate to utility.
Display battery percentage
My last suggestion here won’t improve your power usage but does give you an exact readout of remaining power. Instead guessing on the remaining life of your phone, get an exact readout by putting a check in display battery percentage. A nifty little percentage appears next to the battery icon which obviates the need to guess when your phone will die.
3. Kill the hungriest Apps
The screen brightness is the number one battery drainer; after that Google Earth is a close second. To get a list of your top offenders go back to Settings but this time touch the right most tab called More.
Next, touch the Battery option to view a pretty little graph that shows your battery usage history.
Tap to get a bigger view or touch an App in the list to disable it and reclaim some juice.
4. Decrease the Email Sync Frequency
Tap your way to Settings > Accounts > Email > Settings.
Touch your account name then touch Sync Schedule and finally Set sync schedule and change it to Manual.
Now, you’ll only get new emails when you explicitly refresh which will keep your battery happy.
5. Stay Cool
This may sound funny, but batteries discharge slower in cooler temperatures – up to a certain point. In other words, I’m not telling you to throw your cell in the freezer but you definitely want to avoid leaving your phone in direct sunlight. Don’t leave it on the dash in a hot car in the summer ; instead, take it with you in your purse or pocket.
Generally speaking, when the internal temperature rises the battery life declines (the inverse applies for ultra cold temperatures too -20F). So keep the phone at room temperature and you’ll be fine.
6. Buy an external battery
Sometimes it’s just best to buy an external battery. The Anker Astro3E is a popular one, you can read the reviews on Amazon.
It used to cost $100 but Amazon has it on sale for $40 with free shipping right now.
You’ll get about 4 full charges out of it and it has the ability to charge two devices simultaneously. The disadvantage is that it charges slower than a traditional power source and it’s heaver than a large smart phone. But if you just need a reliable battery backup you should definitely consider it as you shop around.
The Bottom Line
If you want your phone to live a long happy life you need to disable the stuff you don’t need.
Turning on Power Saving mode, disabling superfluous features, tweaking the display settings, disabling power hungry Apps, decreasing the email sync frequency and keeping the phone cool will stretch our your battery life and give you the power juice you need to get through the night.
The next time you’re traveling abroad and forget your USB cable or find yourself without a charger you can use these tips to extend the life of your phone for a few more hours.
Have you discovered any tricks I’ve missed that have helped you extend your battery life? Do you know of any apps in Google Play that work well? Let me know in the comments!