If there’s one complaint I’ve heard about the BlackBerry, and really about smartphones in general, it’s that the battery life leaves much to be desired. When I picked up my 8830 back in January, I wondered what these people meant. My battery would last into Day 3 after a charge. Yet, a few months later, I’m cursing the lithium-ion, as I have to charge the thing basically every day.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been looking for ways to save my battery life, so that I can get through a day without the green, low-battery LCD flashing. Seeing this in my peripheral vision makes me think I have a new messages, and that gets a bit annoying over time. So here are a few ways you can cut down on your BlackBerry battery usage.
When there’s no signal, turn off your radio
Cell phone coverage has improved greatly since the beginning of the decade. Yet there are still areas where you’ll get a “no service available” message. In the city, this means the subways. In rural areas, this can be anywhere.
When your phone searches for a signal, you’re using a significant amount of battery life. When you’re underground, you’re constantly searching for signal. So it’s best to turn off the radio completely at that point. Just go to the Manage Connections icon in your Applications menu, and uncheck the Mobile Network box.
Turn off Bluetooth
It seems that everyone has a Bluetooth headset. I still find it strange to see people talking to what looks like no one, yet they’re just using a hands free device. Unfortunately, the Bluetooth connection is another drain on the battery. So what to do here?
While keeping a Bluetooth connection is necessary at times — while driving, for instance — for the most part you can keep it off when you’re not talking. Just manually disconnect it from the Manage Connections screen. If you get a call and want to take it hands free, just recheck the box. Alternately, you could just turn off the headset itself, which will sever the connection.
Turn off the WiFi
Really, the same as the two above. You don’t want to be constantly searching for WiFi signal when none exists. Uncheck the box, and only check it when you know you’re within the range of WiFi.
Change your backlight options
The default settings for your screen backlight is to have the brightness at 100, and to have it time out after 30 seconds. This can be changed with little ill effect on the user. That is, depending on your eyesight and patience.
I flipped my backlight brightness to 50 without too much visual impairment. I didn’t change the backlight timeout, though. Thirty seconds seems a bit short sometimes, so going down to 20 or 10 seconds seems like it would be a bit annoying. But if you don’t mind, it’s another way you can save some battery. Also, changing the auto dimmer on can save a little bit, too.
Change your ringer/notifications
It’s pretty well known by this point that a vibrating cell phone is a battery draining cell phone. This is no different for your BlackBerry. While many people prefer the vibrating option, it’s certainly a cause of their battery drain. So you have to decide which is more important: battery life or notification convenience?
Part of my own battery drain has been that I have the ‘Berry vibrate three times. It’s so I can distinguish calls from text messages, which get two vibrations. So changing this was easy. I just went to two and one. Still, I’m wasting plenty of battery by having it on at all.
The volume of your ringer also plays into your battery. Back at WES, I had to have a vibrating notification, followed by a loud ringer, just so I could faintly hear it among the murmur of the crowd. That was cause for more battery drain. The problem, of course, is that the BlackBerry has a notoriously low-volume ringer. So sometimes it’s necessary to pump it up a bit. Realize, thought, that it’s causing your bars to drop quicker.
Make sure to close applications
Do you just hit the “END” button to exit out of programs like Google Maps, Zumobi, Viigo, or any Website which automatically reloads? That means the app is still running in the background. And if it’s pulling data from your connection, it means you’re going to be in for some serious battery drain.
Thankfully, this is an easy fix. Just make sure to hit the menu button, and then close the application when you’re done. Not only will your BlackBerry run a bit quicker, since the program won’t be taking up memory, but you’ll also save yourself some battery life.
While this goes along with the backlight issue, keeping our BlackBerry in the holster will keep the backlight off, meaning a better battery life.
Plug it in
No, your battery will not lose life if you leave it plugged in after the meter says full. In fact, it might be the opposite. You always want to top off a lithium-ion batter, so leaving your BlackBerry plugged in overnight can actually help matters.
Also, don’t buy into the myth of wearing the battery all the way down before you charge it. Doing this actually puts more stress on a lithium-ion battery. It’s best to recharge when you still have plenty of battery life left. Hence, plug it in. This will not only keep you fully charged, but it will help your battery from permanently losing power.
Buy an extended battery
I don’t know how well these work, since I’ve never bought one myself. They’re not all too expensive — we have one in the BBGeeks store for $39.95. The most expensive is just $49.95. So you wouldn’t do bad to pick up one of these guys, especially if your battery is bordering on death.