DALLAS — This story was originally published in June 2019.
With the winter storms impacting power across the state of Texas, it's time to get real about one thing: your cell phone battery. We have a few tips to help you extend your digital lifeline.
You may not have power at your home at some point in the next few days, but chances are you will have a few other devices that can juice up your phone, around you.
Use your laptop
If you have a full charge on your laptop, consider plugging in your phone to power up. You might have to rob Peter to pay Paul for a while, but it will be worth it if you have to make or receive an important phone call.
Use an external battery
Many external batteries have the capacity to charge up your phone or tablet multiple times or to charge multiple devices at once. If you have one, now is the time to break it out.
PRO TIP: Do you have a portable car jump starter? Many of those come equipped with USB outlets and may be able to charge a mobile device. Since it lives in your glovebox, you may have forgotten you have it. You’re welcome.
Use your car
If you have a car, you have a way to charge your phone. Just remember to actually turn on your engine so it won’t drain the car battery leaving you stranded.
IMPORTANT: This should not be done in a closed garage due to potential for carbon monoxide poisoning.
Some vehicles come with power inverters that let you use standard electrical plugs. If you are lucky enough to have a vehicle with one of these, you can charge multiple devices all at once.
If you want to use your car to charge your phone or another device, please do it outside. Running an engine in an enclosed garage for an extended length of time could be very dangerous or deadly.
Go to work/school/somewhere with power
Again, this one sounds obvious, but some of you have had a stressful couple of days so don’t worry about it. Hop in your car (if roads are safe) and go somewhere with power. Maybe you could go into work early and get ahead on that project. Maybe you could pick up donuts or coffee on the way in. Everyone likes the person who brings donuts.
Charge in airplane mode
Now that you have a power source to charge your phone, turn on airplane mode. It’s usually the fastest way to charge your phone or tablet because the device isn’t using energy for background processes or location services.
I’ve got my phone charged up. Now what?
We’re glad you asked. There are several things you can do to maximize the life of your battery now that you have a charge.
Turn off unnecessary push notifications
If you are like us, you have a ton of news apps on your phone. When you get a push notification, it might make noise or vibrate your phone. Each notification chips away at your battery life so turn off the ones you don't really need.
Restart your phone to stop apps in the background
Some apps are always running in the background even if you aren’t actively using them and those processes can cost you battery life. Once you have a charge on your phone, turn it off and on to kill those apps running in the background.
Turn off Bluetooth
Using Bluetooth to connect to speakers or those super cool headphones you got for Christmas can run down your battery. Turn it off and get a little more time with your phone.
If possible, text don’t call
Phone calls can use up a chunk of your battery charge. If it’s possible, maybe try texting instead of calling.
NOTE: texting while driving is never a good idea. Don’t do it.
Lower the brightness of your screen
That beautiful, high-res OLED screen on your phone is awesome for checking Instagram and watching YouTube. It’s also awesome at eating a ton of battery charge. Turn down the screen as low as you can stand to squeeze a little more life out of your battery.
Put your phone down
Look, we get it. We are as attached to our phones as everyone else, but maybe this is a good excuse to put your phone down and remember what life was like before we all had little glass rectangles attached to our hands.
You could go for a walk or paint a picture or read a book by candlelight like a pilgrim. You might need to shovel a walkway or driveway or two. Or just huddle under some blankets for warmth.
There are literally a thousand things you can do without a phone. The world is your oyster, do something good with it.