4 unconventional ways to save battery life

Ah, battery life. One of life’s greatest hardships. After Flappy Bird, anyway. Batteries are what power our daily routine from our smartphone to the car we drive to work. They get the job done, but how can we get more out of them? Conserving battery life becomes one of the utmost priorities when it comes to maintaining your smartphone’s usefulness.

That’s why there are so many battery-extending solutions out there from power banks to faster charging batteries. But battery technology has remained stagnant since the days of old. I talked about it at length in a recent article. Most of these solutions, however, are either bulky or unreliable (or both). So, are there any more ways you can save battery life other than the usual suspects like dimming the brightness or turning on airplane mode? Well, yes.

And that is what I’m going to focus on today. Four of the most unconventional ways to save battery life. Let’s get cracking.

Understanding your phone’s battery…

This is the first question to ask ourselves when it comes to battery saving techniques. What powers your smartphone? Well, your battery of course. (duh!) Specifically, though, a lithium ion cell. Lithium ion cells are what powers most of our rechargeable gadgets in the 21st century and hopefully better alternatives pop up in the future. Why? Because, at this rate of technological advance it’s hard for the lithium ion cell to keep up with current processing hardware. I shudder to think about future devices.

Basically, a lithium ion battery is just a cell where lithium ions move back and forth while charging and discharging. Any more information, and it’s going to get really boring (so I’ll keep it simple). We use lithium ion batteries because they’re capable enough and work with almost any other gadget in this day and age. But, any small task that requires power to do begins to take a toll on battery life in the long run.

So, it’s the small things that we’re going to focus on today. As Jeff Olsen so rightfully put it in the Slight Edge, it’s the small things that when done consistently and done over time that lead to success.

Using a black wallpaper

That’s right. You can save some of that precious battery juice by using a black wallpaper. By a black wallpaper, I mean a purely black one.

This neat little trick only works with smartphones which have a particular kind of display. Specifically, an OLED display and all its other variants, like AMOLED, SUPER AMOLED, and AMOLED PLUS.

If you’re unsure which kind of display your smartphone incorporates, then Google is truly your friend. A quick Google search will tell you what you need to know. But, from what I can tell, among the plethora of different smartphone displays, most of Samsung’s smartphones have an AMOLED display.

OLED, or Organic LEDs, are organic screens that produce light when electricity is passed through it. These kinds of display are relatively thin, provide crispier images with a punch of color and also consume less power.

So, now we know all of this, how is it different from, say, an LCD display?

Well, an AMOLED display allows for a true black color. What I mean is, when the display has to show the color black, the respective pixel actually turns off which allows for more inky blacks. That’s why you see such vivid black colors on an OLED television.

From experiments in the XDA forums, we can find that by using a black wallpaper, we can save around 1.5% of battery with each passing hour. Translate that to a whole day of use, and you can easily see where this is going.


Using AdBlock apps

Using AdBlock software when browsing on the World Wide Web can save you plenty of battery life. But, that seems rather odd. AdBlockers are applications, right? Surely they’ll use more battery to sustain itself rather than giving anything out at all, right? Not exactly. Like I said before, it’s the small things that can save you loads of battery life in the long run. Anything that requires your battery to give in a little oomph, it’ll drain battery.

By now, you can probably put 2 and 2 together and guess that loading ads in your browser takes up resources, and that’s exactly what AdBlock software prevents.

On a typical day you see a lot of ads while you browse your way through the internet. So, to put this theory to the test, wirecutter did a little experiment. The results were conclusive enough to be useful. Very useful.

Safari on an iPhone 6s used 18 percent of a full battery; Chrome on a Moto X Pure Android phone used 22 percent. Installing the 1Blocker ad blocker on the iPhone reduced battery usage for the same test to only 9 percent of a full battery; on an Android phone, using the Ghostery Privacy Browser, which blocks ads, used only 8 percent of the battery.

Listen to downloaded music instead of streaming

This may come as a bit of a shocker to some folks, but streaming almost anything at this point is not as good as playing downloaded content when you consider battery life.

In 2016, music streaming services took hold, and they’re still in good shape. Pandora, Spotify, Apple Music, all of these are one of the most prominent music streaming services you can get out there.

But, your battery might not be so happy with that decision, after all. You see, the smartphone has to stream the music from a server, and then push it out onto your device for you to listen to. That’s a lot of work.

In the wirecutter’s tests, the results were:

streaming music over a Wi-Fi connection for two hours used 10 percent of an iPhone’s battery reserves; streaming the same music stored directly on a device over two hours consumed only 5 percent.

That saved battery life of around 50%. Translate that to your daily smartphone use, and you’re on your way to live charger free.

Most people might think this is a major setback, but all of the above services also allow you to download music onto your device itself.

Use downloaded video instead of streaming

The same above concept holds true for video as well. With YouTube on the rise, who doesn’t stream video onto their devices nowadays?

It’s to be noted that YouTube now supports offline mode, so download away!

You see, when you stream video onto your smartphone, it has to fetch data from the server, and then take the effort to render it onto your screen. That takes effort.

This will continuously drain battery as long as you’re watching the particular video. So, longer the video, the more battery you lose.

Experiments conducted shows that you can save more than 40% of battery life looking at a static web page than streaming a video from a web page.

Now, that’s a lot.


There are a lot of known ways to conserve battery life. The obvious ones surely will help to some degree, but use the above features well enough, and the results will speak for themselves.