So, I recently purchased my first smartphone. For the most part, I love the daylights out of it. But you know what? Its battery life is horrible.

Smartphones take a lot of charging. I was horrified when one of my friends got a smartphone about a year ago and promptly announced that his phone couldn't survive a full 24 hours without a charge. I clearly wasn't that horrified, though, because mine isn't that much better. During my first day at work, my smartphone promptly wore its battery down to nearly nothing. (And I wasn't actually using it at work, I swear! It was just sitting there!) Although my phone will last 24 hours if I don't do anything with it, I still have to charge it every single day. Especially if I do anything. (Officially, the phone is supposed to last 300 hours if you leave it in Sleep Mode forever, but only manages 6 hours of "waking" performance.)

That's a pretty big change from my old phone, which would happily putter away for 5-6 days between charges!

So if you really want to live an energy-efficient life, you might just want to stick to a less fancy cell phone. But if you've already taken the plunge, there are some ways you can extend the battery life of your smartphone. Unfortunately, it entails turning off all the smartphone-y features, such as:

  • Wi-Fi connection
  • GPS connection
  • 3G/4G connection
  • The option for your smartphone's programs to sync themselves automatically
  • The ability for your apps to update themselves

Mind you, this just draws out the amount of time between charges.

But if you turn the fancy features on only when you need them, your phone won't sit there pinging the internet 24/7. You can also get apps to force kill apps that you aren't using. But that makes sense, doesn't it? Then it's just like any other appliance: Turn on features when you need to use them and turn them off when you don't.

The funny thing is, of course, that EERE has mobile sites that can help you save energy (like the Mobile Alternative Fueling Station Locator [1]) which you can connect to from your smartphone while it merrily runs itself out of batteries.

Now, the real test would be to use one of those energy meters [2] to see just how these phones compare to other appliances in your home! I tried to look up the charging wattage for my phone, but neither the official website nor the user manual actually has that information. If I can dig it up later, maybe I'll add that information in the comments!


Elizabeth Spencer is a communicator at DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which assists EERE in providing technical content for many of its websites.