7 Tips for Preserving Your Phone Battery During a Storm

As another winter storm affects many parts of the country today, widespread power outages can occur.  During these times, your phone may be your only connection to the outside world.  Here are some tips for keeping it charged.

Obviously, if you’re phone has a “battery saver” or “low power mode” setting, you’ll want to enable it. But here are some additional tips to prolong battery life even further.

  1. Dim your screen. Go into your phone’s display settings and see if your phone is usable at the lowest setting, even if it means cupping your hand over the screen to see it.  The backlight can be one of the biggest drains on your battery.
  2. Try airplane mode. If you know you won’t need your phone for a couple hours, try enabling airplane mode.  This shuts off the cellular, bluetooth, and WiFi radios which greatly prolongs battery life, but at the same time, can prevent you from receiving important calls and texts.
  3. Turn off GPS.  If you’re staying put until the storm lets up, it probably won’t hurt to disable the GPS (also referred to as “location services”) in your phone’s settings.  Many weather apps will let you enter your zip code in order to retrieve your forecast instead of requiring the use of the GPS.
  4. Reduce notifications.  During an emergency, you probably don’t care that it is your turn in Words With Friends, so disable unnecessary notifications to prevent your screen from lighting up every few seconds.  Many phones allow you to change the notifications to “sound only” which helps preserve battery power that would otherwise be used to light up your screen.
  5. Keep it plugged in.  If you haven’t lost power yet, keep your phone plugged into the charger (connected to a surge protector, of course).  That way, if your power does go out, your battery will start out at 100%.
  6. Keep your other devices charged.  It seems that everything connects to the Internet, so take an inventory of your other devices that would let you check the news or perhaps make a quick phone call if necessary.  Your work Blackberry or Kindle Keyboard may include voice and data services over cellular that can come in handy if your main phone is dead.  WiFi-only devices will likely be cut off from the outside world if your main internet connection goes out with the power.  However, if you can store some offline movies, games or e-books, your tablet can still entertain you without an internet connection.  Another little known fact: some laptops continue to power the USB ports while the laptop is “sleeping”.  Charge up your laptop’s battery, let is sleep, and use the laptop as a powerbank.
  7. Grab some external batteries and chargers.  Many different power packs are available that allow you to connect virtually any device that can charge via USB.  Here are some examples:
  • RavPower Luster: provides about one full charge to many smartphones and even has a bonus flashlight!
  • Anker Astro: provides about 2-3 full charges to your smartphone
  • RavPower Deluxe: packing 14,000mAh, this can recharge your phone multiple times or a tablet 1-2 times, and the dual USB ports to charge two devices simultaneously
  • Kayo Maxtar Power Bank: If you want to go all out (or have a large family to keep charged), check out this 50,000mAh power bank.  It can charge 4 USB devices at once, and can also charge many PC laptops.
  • American Red Cross Radio and Phone Charger:  This device can be charged by hand-crank, solar panels, or can use AAA batteries.  It also serves as a AM, FM and weather radio
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