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FAQ - Mobile Phone

Extend your mobile phone's battery life

1. Features and settings

Nowadays phones have a tune of functions and all of them drain battery power, so if you don't need something, switch it off. Some phones provide ways of saving energy by putting the phone in standby mode or turning off non-essential features when idle. You can usually make any changes to your phone's features via the 'Settings' or 'Tools' section in the menu. Almost every modern feature on a mobile phone puts a strain on the battery and while batteries are improving, they're still not good enough to support all the features available on modern mobile phones for long periods of time.

Turn off your Bluetooth when you're not using it

One of the most infamous battery-draining culprits is Bluetooth, which can be left on unintentionally. Bluetooth is a radio standard that can receive and transmit information, but to do this it consumes battery power. Unless you're using a Bluetooth headset, transferring files or sending information to someone, then you should turn it off and only use it when you need to.

Lower your screen's brightness

Another feature that you should keep an eye on is your screen's brightness. Some phones adjust the display's brightness automatically according to the ambient light, but most don't. The majority of mobile phone displays will be set to full brightness when you first switch them on and, unless you change it manually, they will stay on that setting.

You don't usually need full brightness to view the screen properly and setting it as low as possible will save plenty of energy. Some phones also have an option letting you adjust how long the backlight stays on for. It's best to keep the backlight on for as short an amount of time as possible, so turn it down to around 15 seconds or less if possible.

Keep it plain and keep it quiet

Screensavers and moving wallpapers may look pretty but they use up battery power, so turn them off. A loud ring and the vibrate mode also use up a lot of power, so turn down the volume and turn off the vibrate mode if you don't need it.

Watch out for GPRS, 3G and Wi-Fi

Other features that drain power but aren't featured on every phone are 3G connectivity and Wi-Fi adaptors. You should be able to turn off a Wi-Fi adaptor and switch from 3G to GSM in the 'Connectivity' section of your mobile's menu. If you enjoy browsing the Web on a GPRS connection, make sure you set the GPRS connection to 'only when needed' so that it turns itself off when you stop using it.

Use your phone sparingly and turn it off when you don't need it

If you restrict your phone usage to text messaging or phone calls and turn it off when you don't need it, your battery will last much longer. It may be fun playing games or browsing the Web at the bus stop, but your battery will have run out by the time you get to work.

2. Signal strength 
If your phone is constantly straining to find a network signal it will use more power than if it's not. When your phone is in an area with poor network coverage it will use more power to force a connection with the nearest mobile mast base station. Because of this, it's best not to leave your phone in areas of the office or house where the signal is poor. Also, when you make a call, try to make sure that you have three or more bars of signal on your phone.

If you're underground or in another area with no signal, turn your phone off. Turn it on again when you know you'll have a signal, or turn it on every now and then to check.

In summary:
. Make sure your phone has a good signal even when you're not using it
. If you need to make a call, try and find an area with as strong a signal as possible
. Turn your phone off if you're in an area with no signal for a long period of time

3. Understand your battery 
Most mobile phone batteries these days are lithium-based rather than nickel-based. While nickel batteries had to be charged for over 10 hours before first use (to prime the battery), lithium batteries only need to be charged until the mobile phone says the battery is full.

Don't let the battery run flat too often and apply regular charges

Another advantage of using a lithium battery is that it doesn't suffer from 'memory' -- a charging issue that affects nickel batteries. If nickel batteries are charged randomly and aren't fully discharged regularly, then large crystals will form on the internal cell plates, which causes it to underperform.

A lithium battery can be charged whenever it needs it. Full discharges are not needed -- indeed, they are inadvisable. Instead, let the battery run down to around a third of its capacity and charge it on a regular basis rather than running the battery completely flat.

If your phone is not displaying the correct amount of energy left in your battery, then let it run completely flat and this should solve the problem.

Keep the battery cool and don't leave it in the sun

Lithium batteries come with built-in circuitry that protects them from overheating, so leaving a phone to charge overnight or over a couple of days won't damage it. However, if a lithium battery is over-charged for too long (e.g. a week) it will start to heat up. Overheating is a lithium battery's main enemy and could result in permanent damage to the battery. The battery can also get overheated if your mobile phone is left in the sun or near a radiator, so avoid doing this as well.

After about two years buy a new battery for your mobile phone

A lithium battery only lasts for around 300 to 500 charges, so if you have been using the same battery for more than a couple of years you may need a new battery. Buying a spare battery is not advisable unless you use it on a regular basis because lithium batteries deteriorate even when they're not being used.

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