Tips for great battery life

As the world of personal electronics grows increasingly mobile, issues surrounding battery life, lifespan, and consumption are becoming hot topics for users and manufacturers alike. Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries are the standard power source for many

As the world of personal electronics grows increasingly mobile, issues surrounding battery life, lifespan, and consumption are becoming hot topics for users and manufacturers alike. Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries are the standard power source for many of our favorite Apple products: portable notebooks, iPods, and iPhones. Although at some point all rechargeable lithium ion batteries will fail, there are some tips and practices that can help extend the life of one of the most valuable components of your mobile experience.

Tips for extending your iPod's battery life
1. Keep your iPod in the temperature sweet spot. iPod battery life takes a particular hit when left in extreme heat. When you're out on a summer trip, try not to leave your iPod in the car.
2. Stay up-to-date. Similar to Apple's computers, iPods get software updates that can improve battery performance. Be sure to regularly check for updates in iTunes.
3. Use it. iPod batteries perform best when they are used. Lithium-ion batteries are designed to be in constant use. Try not to leave your iPod in a drawer for too long at a time. If you find you do not use the battery much, charge and discharge the battery once a month to keep the juices flowing.
4. Set it right. If you have a Wi-Fi enabled iPod, disable the Wi-Fi when you're not using it. Similar to AirPort cards in notebooks, the Wi-Fi card in iPods are constantly searching for signals and working to stay connected to them.
5. Back off your backlight. Having your backlight always on will significantly reduce the battery life your iPod exhibits. 
6. The built-in equalizer can also reduce battery life when in use.
7. Third-party applications designed for iPods are generally not concerned with battery consumption. Using these often will result in a shorter battery life.
8. For e-mail and data receiving enabled iPods, change your settings to fetch data less regularly. Push e-mail and quick data fetching greatly reduces battery life.
9. Create great playlists. If you constantly click through your songs, your iPod is constantly accessing the hard drive to fill the cache causing it to use more battery power. Create playlists that will minimize the number of times you click through your library to find the songs you want to listen to.
10. Compress it. Using compressed songs on your iPod reduces the amount of power required by your iPod to play them. iPods are designed to work most effectively with songs less than 9MB.
11. Breathe a little. Keeping your iPod in a case is a great idea for protection. However, while charging, it is as great an idea to take it out. iPods generate heat while charging and keeping it tightly wrapped in its case can damage the battery performance.
Tips for extending your iPhone's battery life
Following many of the iPod tips (listed above) will ensure your iPhone's battery life will last as expected. There are also a couple extra features the iPhone offers that can affect battery life.
1. Watch the heat. This one bears repeating. Keep your iPhone from being in environments containing excessive heat: your car's glove box, direct sunlight, or near heating devices in your house. 
2. iPhones have valuable tools to help with battery life maintenance. Viewing your usage statistics, much like keeping track of your car's MPG, can help you determine the battery life you are getting as well as what to expect in the future.
3. 3G and Airplane Mode. If you have an iPhone 3G, using the 3G network depletes the battery much faster than the 2.5G network. If you are in an area where you are receiving little to no signal, turn your iPhone to Airplane Mode. Similar to Wi-Fi cards, your iPhone is constantly trying to maintain or search for AT&T's network signals, using battery power all the while.
4. Lock it up. Though it may seem obvious, lock your iPhone when you aren't using it to prevent unintended screen usage.
5. Use your iPhone. Not that most people have a problem with this one, but doing a complete charge and discharge cycle each month will greatly improve your battery's life span.
Tips for extending your notebook's battery life
1. Check out your environment. All electronic devices have a sweet spot regarding environmental temperature during use. For Apple's notebooks, the sweet spot lies between 50 degrees and 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Stay up-to-date. Periodically, Apple releases software updates that improve battery performance. Be sure to download and install all the latest software updates as they arrive.
3. Start on the right foot. Be sure to get a full charge and all your updates when you first get your new computer and plug it in for the first time.
4. Be useful. Batteries work better with the juices flowing. If you typically use your notebook on your desk and plugged in, hoping to save your battery, Apple recommends discharging and charging your battery once a month.
5. Store it properly. Apple recommends long term storage of your battery at a 50 percent charge. Having too little juice could result in your battery becoming permanently discharged. If you have too much you could lose total charge capacity. Be sure to keep your storage place within the temperature sweet spot mentioned earlier.
6. Settings are important. There are plenty of settings on Apple's notebooks to effectively maximize your battery life. In your System Preferences, the Energy Saver presents a couple options to manage your Mac's display and sleep settings. Use the presets to get the best performance (less battery life) or better battery life.
7. Turn down the brightness. Your computer's display should match the brightness of your environment. If you are on an airplane at night watching a movie, you can turn the display brightness down quite a bit. This is great for both the battery life and your eyes. The more your eyes have to adjust between different brightness levels, the more strain is placed on them.
8. Be offline. If you're not using the Internet, turn it off. When your AirPort wireless card is on, it is constantly working to find and stay connected to signals.
9. Turn off Bluetooth. Similar to AirPort, Bluetooth signals are constantly searching for signals and trying to connect when they find them. If you're not using a Bluetooth device, be sure to disable the feature.
10. Watch what's open. The more applications you have running at one time, the more power your computer needs to use to keep them running. When you're on battery power, try and use one application at a time if possible.
11. Unplug peripherals. Charging your iPod, syncing your iPhone, or downloading photos from your digital camera all take a toll on your battery life. This includes ejecting CDs and DVDs that aren't in use.
Resources
Read Apple's article regarding lithium-ion batteries.
Read Apple's article regarding notebook batteries.
Read Apple's article regarding iPod batteries.
Read Apple's article regarding iPhone batteries.
Read this MacFixIt article from earlier this month for more about battery troubleshooting.

Experiencing problems? Have feedback? Let us know!

Resources
  • Read Apple's article regarding lithium-ion batteries.
  • Read Apple's article regarding notebook batteries.
  • Read Apple's article regarding iPod batteries.
  • Read Apple's article regarding iPhone batteries.
  • Read this MacFixIt article...
  • Let us know!
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