Battery life is a constant struggle in the smartphone world. Why is that, you might ask? Well because our phones are thin and light. Batteries are the polar opposite to that – big and heavy. At least they are if you want them to last long enough to power through your day. OEMs are waging a war against the battery plight, and one of their biggest weapons at the moment is called “power saving mode.”
The power savings in power saving mode come from a number of different optimizations. Most of them involve shutting down various functions of your smartphone so that it’s a lot more phone than it is smart. Internet gets disabled, screen brightness drops, back end processes get shut down. On some phones, even the pixels in use on the screen are minimized. The up side is, this gives you a lot more battery life for the extreme circumstances. The down side is, the smartphone you just paid 600-plus dollars for is now little better than your flip phone from 1996.
Power saving mode is more of an extreme case situation. You shouldn’t use power saver mode unless you don’t have any other power source available. These days, power is as ubiquitous as the internet signal you shut down when you go into power saving mode, so this really shouldn’t be used all that often. Which leads to the question of “why?” Why have a power saving mode on a phone in the first place?
Be be be prepared
Well, it turns out, as prepared as you try to be, nobody is 100% prepared for every situation. I walk around with a portable battery, a couple of micro USB cables, a wall plug and a car plug, and even so I will still find myself on my battery’s last legs every now and then. I can probably count the number of occurrences since the New Year on one hand, but it does happen.
The big question here is whether or not an OEM should just take the time it takes developing a good power-saver mode and instead invest those resources into software battery optimization. But the reality is that as optimized as you make a phone, it won’t outlast the longevity you get from a power-saving phone. So its exists on multiple platforms. It’s a thing.
Of course, there is also the do-it-yourself, power saving option. If you know you’re going to be running long, you can shut down your own radios – Wifi and Bluetooth are the obvious ones, but you could also shut off your data usage. If you know you’re going to be out for a day with the family, you can also turn off your work email, and maybe turn down the frequency of your social media notifications. Drop them to every 30 minutes as opposed to push. I utilized this technique at Disney World a couple of years ago. Suddenly my phone could almost last for two days!
So now the question is, do you ever find yourself saving power? We were curious about whether or not our readers ever ran into a situation in which a power saving mode might be helpful. If so, did you use it, or tether yourself to a cable for a few minutes while you sucked in a few more battery percents? Or did you do what I did, and anticipate your power needs and shut down a few non-essential services? Go ahead and vote below. If you’re feeling more verbose, drop in a comment talking about your experiences.