With the shift in technology we seem to be doing more business on our phones these days. Whether it's scheduling stretch film demos or answering emails, we rely on our smartphones more and more. While the iPhone isn't a horrible power hog, particularly in terms of standby time, there still are situations where your battery can drain too quickly. If you have trouble making it through the day without charging up, here's what you can do right now to boost your iPhone's battery life:
1. Disable as many notifications as possible.Notifications were a battery drain with earlier versions of iOS. I usually kept them turned off on test handsets, and saw several days of standby time on a charge even with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS enabled. But iOS 5 has a completely different notification system, with an Android-style pull-down bar at the top that collects multiple notifications and organizes them.
In the process of adding this, Apple removed the global notification toggle in the Settings menu, so you can't just disable them all in one shot anymore. You can, however, disable app notifications, while leaving important ones (such as text and voicemail) intact. In other words, you can turn it back into an approximation of the original system, which separated call notifications from app notifications automatically.
To do this, head to Settings > Notifications, tap a given category (Phone, Messages, Reminders) or app (Words With Friends, Zillow, etc.), and toggle Notification Center at the top to Off. The fewer notifications you enable, the more standby time you should see. While you're in there, note that you can change the way they appear; you can return a given notification to an alert window in the center of the screen, the way it used to be, instead of with the new bar on top.
2. Turn off Location Services. You can also disable all Location Services, which is a good general rule for conserving battery life, as the iPhone's GPS can blaze through your battery. Head to Settings > Location Services, and tap the On/Off slider next to Location Services to turn all of them off. You can also disable these services on an individual app basis below.
3. Check for email manually. Push email is another perennial battery drain. Normally I set all accounts to receive updates manually (i.e. when I load the app), instead of at a set frequency or via "push." The same goes for Facebook and Twitter updates; if the app is constantly refreshing them in the background, it's hitting the radios and consuming power, and you're not even reading them. Head to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Fetch New Data, toggle Push at the top to Off, and then set Fetch to Manually.
4. Watch your signal strength indicator. If you spend a lot of time in areas with poor reception, your iPhone will search harder for stronger signal. This drains the battery much faster. I've left my iPhone untouched on my desk, where there's a particularly poor signal, and watched the battery drain by almost half over the course of a workday. Short of switching off your phone, there's not much you can do about this one, but keep in mind that it could be your power-sucking culprit.
5. Check for software updates. With the advent of iOS 5, you can check for OS updates right from the phone, instead of using a USB cable and syncing with iTunes. Simply head to Settings > General > Software Update.
6. The old power-saving standbys still help. You can still do all the basic, old-school things to improve battery life, such as reducing screen brightness, disabling Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and so on. The one that helps most here, in my experience, is screen brightness, but you need it cranked up to see the Retina Display in bright sunlight.
7. Consider a battery case or an add-on battery. Battery cases from Kensington, Mophie, and other manufacturers combine a hardware enclosure, which protects your phone, with an extended battery that can double your iPhone 4 or 4S's endurance. They average about $70, but there are some lower-cost options as well. For more details, check our roundups of The Best iPhone 4/4S Battery Cases and The Best Add-On Batteries For Your Phone or Tablet, with links to complete reviews of each one.