Jul 24, 2013 (07:07 AM EDT)
10 Tablet Battery Tips: More Power
Read the Original Article at InformationWeek
Ever watch a tablet teardown video? If so, you're aware that a battery takes up a lot of room. And that's a big reason why manufacturers are able to squeeze eight to 10 hours of battery life out of tablets these days. But guess what? You can do even better.
Of course, getting a tablet to last longer between charges takes a little effort on your part, as well as a willingness to accept a few connectivity and performance trade-offs, which we address in this slideshow.
Recent tablet market share numbers from research firm IDC show that Apple and Android dominate slate shipments, which is why our battery-saving tips focus on those two platforms. In the first quarter of 2013, the iPad accounted for just under 40% of all global tablet shipments, while Samsung's tablets accounted for nearly 18% of shipments. (Samsung sells mostly Android tablets, although it does offer Windows models too, such as the ATIV Tab 3.)
All-day battery life is one of the hallmarks of a successful tablet. The iPad more or less established this benchmark when it debuted in 2010, and Apple has managed to maintain this standard while boosting the iPad's capabilities in successive generations by adding faster processors, 4G LTE wireless, and the high-resolution Retina screen with 2,048 by 1,536 pixels. To reach its eight- to 10-hour target, Apple has boosted the capacity of the iPad's lithium-ion polymer battery, moving from a 25-watt-hour pack in the first-generation iPad to a 42.5-watt-hour pack in the latest, fourth-generation iPad.
Tablets -- including tablet-laptop hybrids -- that don't hit the all-day mark might have an increasingly tough time in the highly competitive tablet market. Microsoft's tepidly received Surface Pro, which runs Windows 8 on its power-hungry Intel Core i5 processor, lasts only four to five hours between charges, a shortcoming Microsoft will almost certainly correct in the second-generation model. One likely upgrade: the use of Intel's upcoming Bay Trail Atom processor, which promises improved power management and graphics performance in low-cost Windows 8 tablets.
What does the future hold? Well, perhaps a battery-less tablet that uses wireless charging, at least according to this GeekWire article on a recently published patent application, one listing Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos as one of two inventors.
Until then, we're stuck with the humble battery, warts and all. Explore our slideshow to find 10 ways to boost your tablet's battery life.
Your tablet, like all electronics, is a middle-of-the-road kind of device when it comes to temperatures. It hates extremes, instead favoring a Goldilocks environment that's not hot, not too cold. In fact, heat is one of the worst things for battery performance. Not surprisingly, Apple advises keeping iPads out of the sun and out of hot cars, including the trunk, on sweltering days. The benefit: longer battery life and overall lifespan. Of course, it's not always possible to keep a tablet at a room temperature of 72 degrees F (22 degrees C) all the time, particularly if you bring your slate along on personal or business road trips.
The screen, not surprisingly, is a tablet's biggest energy hog, as this screenshot from GSam Battery Monitor, a power usage analyzer for Android, shows. It's unwise to set your tablet to maximum brightness, as battery life will suffer greatly. The iPad's auto-brightness setting adjusts screen brightness based on ambient light, and Apple says the best way to extend battery life is to manually adjust this setting. To do so, go to Settings > Brightness & Wallpaper and drag the slider to the left. Android users should go Settings > Display > Brightness. Unfortunately, reducing screen brightness might result in a less enjoyable reading experience, but battery misers must learn to live with trade-offs.
Push notifications can shorten battery life, particularly those pesky instant messaging and social media apps that alert you throughout the day. Unfortunately, some app developers abuse the notifications system with promotional messages and other spam too. Enough already! To save power on an iPad, go to Settings > Notifications and turn off notifications on an app-by-app basis. This process can be tedious if you have a lot of apps. Alternatively, turn off Notifications Center entirely if you don't want any messages at all.
On tablets running Android 4.1 or later, it's pretty easy to zap notification spam. When an unwanted message appears, long-press it to launch the App Info screen, where you can turn off the app's notifications. Alternatively, go to Settings > Apps, choose the offending app, and neuter its notifications there. If you're running Android 4.0 or earlier, well, the situation isn't pretty. Each app might or might not have an option to turn off notifications. Your best bet: Launch the app, tap the Menu button, go to the app's settings and look for a notifications option.
We've already explained how excessive heat can take its toll on battery life. But your recharging habits can screw things up as well. According to Battery University, each recharge cycle wears down a battery by a small degree, and it's smarter to partially discharge a battery rather than drain it dry. In fact, the only time you should fully discharge a battery is to prevent the dreaded memory effect on a nickel-based pack, or to calibrate a smart battery.
Apple says that for accurate reporting of an iPad battery's charge, you should run at least one charge cycle per month: Charge the battery to 100% and discharge it completely. Oh, and one more tip from Battery University: Turn off your tablet while charging it. The "parasite load" of the device can affect its ability to detect a full charge, and possibly overcharge the battery or cause mini-cycles.
A cellular-ready tablet makes a good car navigation system, particular when it's fitted snugly in a car mount. Why? Because a tablet's big screen is a lot easier to read than a puny smartphone screen.
But location services, such as GPS mapping apps, are proven power hogs, and it's very easy to turn on a navigation app and forget it's running in the background. You should use location services only when necessary, or take the extreme approach and disable them altogether. On Android tablets, go to Settings > Location and turn off GPS services and other location-based tools by unchecking the appropriate box. To disable location services on an iPad, visit Settings > Privacy > Location Services.
If you'd rather boost battery life than conserve it, here's a quick and easy solution: Buy a second battery. The New Trent iZen NT1400 ($80) is a suede leather and hard-shell case with a removable 14,000-mAh battery pack. Compatible with the second-generation iPad and newer and numerous Android tablets, the iZen extends usage of the iPad 2 by 120% and the iPad3 by 80%, the company says.
Innovative Technology's Justin Ultra-Slim Power Case ($70) packs an 11,600-mAh rechargeable battery inside a faux-leather cover. It charges a full-size iPad up to two times via its USB connector, according to the company.
Got an Android tablet? Widgets are a great way to bring useful info to the home screen, such as Facebook and Twitter updates, news, weather, photos and so on. And live wallpaper -- 3-D fish tanks, animated GIF images and the like -- are fun too. But from a power-saving perspective, widgets and live wallpaper are nonessential drains on the battery. You'll want to zap those widgets that are, well, a tad gratuitous. (Sorry, 3-D fish.) To remove a widget from the Android home screen, long-press it, and then drag it to the Remove icon.
Airplane mode turns off the wireless capabilities of your tablet, including Bluetooth, cellular, GPS, location services and Wi-Fi. Obviously, you need wireless turned on most of the time, but a good way to conserve battery life is to switch to airplane mode when you're out of range of a wireless network. An iPad, for instance, tries to maintain a connection with a Wi-Fi or cellular network, and it will use more power attempting to do so in areas with little or no wireless coverage.
Email and other apps fetch data quite often. But the more they fetch, the more they drain the battery. So try increasing the fetch intervals or fetch data manually. On the iPad, go to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Fetch New Data and select "Manually." Alternatively, you can increase fetch intervals to hourly. To turn off auto-sync in Android 4.0, 4.1 or 4.2, tap Settings > Accounts & sync, and touch or slide the switch at the top of the screen to "Off."
Locking your tablet screen is not only a prudent way to keep miscreants from stealing your personal data, it can help conserve power. How? Set the display to turn off after a very short period of inactivity. On the iPad, go to Settings > General > Auto-Lock and select a time that works best for you (e.g., two minutes). Android users should go to Settings > Security > Lock Phone after, tap the down arrow on the right, and then choose a time interval.