Maximize Your BlackBerry’s Battery Life & Charge
One of the BlackBerry’s big selling points is killer battery life, but that’s no excuse to get lazy – you can stretch it even farther by following some of these easy-to-remember tips.
While many of us now use mobile phones in place of land-line phones in our homes, the primary benefit of mobile phones remains their portability. A mobile phone is only as portable as its power source, however, so to get the most out of your phone you need to get the most out of your battery. When it comes to battery life, there are two separate, but connected, considerations: how to make the battery last longer between charges, and how to prolong the overall life of the battery.
“in an area with poor or no signal, your phone will constantly look for a better connection, and will use up all your power doing so”
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The Guide to Prolong Your Battery Charge & Life
Increase Time between Charges
- Turn the phone off. This is probably the most effective and simplest way of conserving your battery’s power. If you don’t plan on answering the phone while you’re sleeping or after business hours, just turn it off. Do the same if you are in an area with no reception (such as a subway or remote area) or in a roaming area, since constantly searching for service depletes the battery fairly quickly. Some phones have an automatic power save feature, but it takes about 30 minutes with no service to kick in. By then, much battery power has been used.
- Stop searching for a signal. When you are in an area with poor or no signal, your phone will constantly look for a better connection, and will use up all your power doing so. This is easily understood if you have ever forgotten to turn off your phone on a flight. The best way to ensure longer battery life is to make sure you have a great signal where you use your phone. If you don’t have a perfect signal, get a cell phone repeater which will amplify the signal to provide near perfect reception anywhere.
- Switch off the vibrate function on your phone, and use just the ring tone instead. The vibrate function uses up a lot of battery power. Keep the ring tone volume as low as possible.
- Turn off your phone’s back light. The back light is what makes the phone easier to read in bright light or outside. However, the light also uses battery power. If you can get by without it, your battery will last longer. If you have to use the back light, many phones will let you set the amount of time to leave the back light on. Shorten that amount of time. Usually, one or two seconds will be sufficient. Some phones have an ambient light sensor, which can turn off the back light in bright conditions and enable it in darker ones.
- Avoid using unnecessary features. If you know it will be a while before your phone’s next charge, don’t use the camera or connect to the Internet. Flash photography can drain your battery especially quickly. If your phone has bluetooth capability, disable it when not in use.
- Keep calls short. This is obvious, but how many times have you heard someone on their mobile phone say, “I think my battery’s dying,” and then continue their conversation for several minutes? Sometimes, the dying battery is just an excuse to get off the phone (and a good one, at that), but if you really need to conserve the battery, limit your talk time.
- Turn off Bluetooth. BT will drain your battery very quickly, and having it on can cause you problems near virus-infected smartphones.
- Same goes for WIFI and GPS if your phone has these features built in. Keep them off, save more power.
- Use GSM – Using your phone in 3G / Dual Mode will drain the battery quicker than if you just use GSM mode – have a look at your phones spec and you’ll see it will quote two different battery life times – normally 50% more for pure GSM use.
Prolong the Life of Your Battery
- Initialize a new battery. New batteries should be fully charged before their first use to obtain maximum capacity. Nickel-based batteries should be charged for 16 hours initially and run through 2-4 full charge/full discharge cycles, while lithium ion batteries should be charged for about 5-6 hours. Ignore the phone telling you that the battery is full–this is normal but is not accurate if the battery is not initialized.
- Keep the battery cool. Your battery will last longest if used near room temperature, and nothing wears on a battery like extended exposure to high temperatures. While you can’t control the weather, you can avoid leaving your phone in a hot car or in direct sunlight, and you don’t have to carry your phone in your pocket, where your body heat will raise its temperature. In addition, check the battery while it’s charging. If it seems excessively hot, your charger may be malfunctioning.
- Charge your battery correctly, in accordance with its type. Most newer cell phones have lithium-ion batteries, while older ones generally have nickel-based batteries. Read the label on the back of the battery or in the technical specifications in the manual to determine which yours is.
- Nickel-based batteries (either NiCd or NiMH) suffer from a phenomenon known as the “memory effect.” If you charge the battery partially enough times, eventually the battery “forgets” that it can charge fully. A nickel-based battery suffering from memory effect can be reconditioned, which requires the battery to be completely discharged, then completely recharged (sometimes several times). The appropriate length of time between reconditionings varies. A good rule to follow for nickel-battery cell-phones is to discharge them completely once every two to three weeks, and only when you have a charger available.
- Lithium ion batteries, on the other hand, do not suffer from the same memory effect. However, many devices that use lithium batteries have a battery meter, showing the user how much charge the battery has left. Starting with a battery’s manufacture at the factory, lithium ions oxidize in the battery, shortening its life. After a certain amount of time, the battery exhibits slightly different electronic properties, which the device can only detect when the battery is discharged. This type of problem is known as a “virtual memory effect” and occurs when your battery meter can show a high charge, then suddenly drop to low charge when the battery is almost dead. Every thirty cumulative cycles, you should discharge lithium ion batteries until the phone gives a low battery warning, then recharge it. If you discharge lithium ion batteries to zero voltage, the internal safety circuit may open. In that case, a normal charger will be inadequate. Reconditioning ensures that the battery meter on a lithium ion cellphone is accurate (although it will not affect actual battery capacity).
- Regardless of the battery type, use only a charger rated for your battery, and discontinue use of a charger that causes the battery to heat up excessively.
- Store batteries properly. If your battery will be out of use for a while, disconnect it from the phone and store it in a cool place (the refrigerator is good, but freezing temperatures do not slow oxidation) and away from metal objects. Ensure that the battery is not exposed to moisture; try putting the battery in an airtight container or bag. Lithium ion batteries are not rated to operate at refrigerated temperatures, so let the battery sit outside the refrigerator for at least an hour before using it again. Lithium ion batteries oxidize least when they are stored at 40% charge. Never store a lithium battery at low voltage. Recharge batteries after storage.
- Clean the battery contacts on the battery and on the phone. Over time, contacts may accumulate dirt. Clean them with a cotton swab and rubbing alcohol to maximize the efficiency of energy transfer. In addition, if the contacts are two different metals, such as gold and tin, accelerated corrosion known as “fretting” occurs. Cutting the corrosion from fretted contacts often requires solvents, such as acetone or nail polish remover. Be careful: these solvent dissolve plastic, so use a Q-Tip to avoid damaging the battery housing or the phone.
Battery Failure Indicators
- The usable time after recharging is shortened.
- The battery becomes unusually warm during a recharge cycle.
- The battery becomes unusually warm during phone use.
- The battery case often is swollen. This is detectable by feeling and viewing the inside/phone-side of the battery case. Also, when the battery is placed inside/phone-side down on a flat, smooth surface, it will rock and will sustain a spin motion. The case of a healthy battery is flat and will not sustain a spin motion.
- The battery develops a hard spot. This is detectable on the inside/phone-side surface of the battery by gently pinching about the surface between one’s fingers.
- Regardless of how well you care for your battery, it will die eventually. When it does, you may be able to have it refurbished by sending it to the manufacturer or bringing it back to the retailer. If it cannot be refurbished, or if you just want to get a new battery, be sure to recycle it, either by returning it to the manufacturer or retailer, or by bringing it to a recycling center. Most major retail electronics stores have drop-off boxes for recycled phones.
- You should not have to turn off your phone to charge it. Most battery chargers deliver more than enough current to power your phone and charge it at the same time. Doing so will not lengthen the charge time, and leaving a phone on allows the user to be aware of its fuel gauge, so that you can remove it when the battery is full.
- When using a car charger, do not charge the battery when the inside temperature of your car is hot. Wait until the car has cooled before you plug in the phone.
- Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries naturally get quite warm while charging, unless you use a specialized “slow charger”. If your phone uses a NiMH battery, do not worry about the heat generated during charging unless it becomes so hot that it is uncomfortable to touch.
- Do not store a lithium battery with a very low charge for a long time, the battery monitor will draw a small current, which might cause a ‘deep discharge’ which may cause damage to the battery.
- Avoid cheap, knockoff chargers as they may cause excessive battery heating.
- When buying lithium ion batteries, be aware that oxidation begins at the time of manufacture, not the time of first use. As such, older lithium batteries will have reduced capacity (about 20% per year stored at room temperature). If you buy a battery at a clearance sale price, expect that you will get less life out of the mobile phone.
- Never dispose of old batteries in the trash. Batteries contain toxic metals, and electronic waste from batteries and other electronic components is becoming a major problem. Improper disposal of toxic batteries is illegal in many jurisdictions.
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