Smartphones have undoubtedly changed the way we go about our day-to-day lives. But there is a big problem lurking.
In August 2015, Ofcom published the results of their survey of modern communication habits, revealing that two-thirds of everyone in the UK now own a smartphone, and use it for an average of 2 hours per day. We use them to text, to browse the internet, to access social media – and even, occasionally, as a phone. But while the technology that allows us to remain so connected and entertained is constantly improving, there is a huge flaw in every current smart device: battery life.
Smartphones are designed to provide us with convenience, to make organising events, looking something up, or staying in touch easier than ever. It seems a shame then, that many find themselves needing to charge them at least every day (or if you’re a somewhat heavy user, even twice a day). The reason we’re forced to do this is simply down to the antiquated battery technology. Most smart-devices, like almost all electronic gadgets, run on lithium-ion (Li-ion) cells; the same tech that has been used since the early 1990s. With the screens, cameras and processors advancing according to Moore’s Law (the number of transistors in a device doubling roughly every 2 years), the 25-year old technology we use to power them simply can’t keep up.
While the screens on these devices will always be among the lead culprits of hefty battery drainage, one of the biggest killers of battery life is, in fact, avoidable. Apps are becoming more and more part of our smartphone experience, giving us instant access to social media at the touch of a button, or allowing us to procrastinate with a game of virtual sheep farming or castle sieging. When we’ve had enough of these, however, most of us just tend to move off the app or game onto something else, usually leaving it to run quietly in the background.
Most apps rely on an internet connection in some form to work optimally, and will continue to update or remain connected to servers even when they’re no longer being used. Quite aside from chewing through mobile data allowances, this passive background activity can take a huge toll on battery life.
Fortunately, there are some things we can do to delay the inevitable dash for a plug socket at 2% without changing our usage habits all that much. Most apps don’t need to continue running in the background, and so can essentially be put into a deep sleep, or ‘hibernated’. There are many apps which can do this, for iPhone and Windows, but if you’re on Android, a particularly good app which does this is Greenify. Available completely free with most required features, there is also the opportunity to upgrade to the donation package, which comes with some more advanced experimental features if you’d like to go even further with battery saving (and even more if you’re techie and have your phone rooted).
Most of us probably have at least a hundred apps on our phones, the vast majority of which probably never, or very rarely, get used in the foreground, but can still load and run in the background without the user knowing. With Greenify, you can tell these apps to stay hibernated, so they don’t start running until you manually load them up if and when you need them. The experimental auto-hibernation is also very useful in that it can automatically put an app into a deep sleep every time you close it (i.e. Facebook won’t keep running the in the background for no reason).
A failing battery could be the reason you’re considering a new phone. Give Greenify a go, it might just breathe a little new life into yours.