How to get the most battery life from Windows Phone 8.1
May 14, 2014
If your smartphone is powered on all of the time, with all features running at full steam, you'll probably find that you run out of juice before the end of the day. Though batteries are getting more powerful, so are the features and apps that run them down, and Windows Phone is no exception. Here's a look at common ways to get more from your battery, and some methods that are specific to Windows Phone 8.1.
There are things you can do that generally apply to all mobile devices running Android or iOS. Tips like turning down brightness, turning off Wi-Fi or Bluetooth when not in use are all great suggestions. Here's where to find those settings in Windows Phone 8.1, and some settings that are unique to Microsoft's newest mobile OS.
Windows Phone 8.1 has a slew of new features, but one that came from Windows Phone 8 is called Battery Saver. You can find it by going to Settings > Battery Saver. You can also find it in your apps list. It has two main functions: enabling Microsoft’s built-in battery saving features, and allowing you to see which apps are using the most amount of battery juice.
Under Usage, the apps are listed in descending order based on the percentage of power they're eating up. It also shows if the app is allowed to run in the background. Swipe the screen over to Settings and there you can turn the feature on or off, and manage when Battery Saver kicks in.
If you don't want an app to run in the background, under Usage, tap on it. Then on the next screen turn off the ability to for it to run in the background.
It's worth noting that when Battery Saver is enabled, it turns off other non-essential background features, so you can't receive email or calendar updates automatically. But you can sync your email manually whenever you want. Also, live tiles won't receive any push notifications.
If you don't like the blanket approach that Battery Saver takes in disabling features, you can also go through and decide what to disable piecemeal until you get the results you want.
Turn off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi
If you're out and about there's no reason to have your phone looking for Wi-Fi connections. Unless you're using a Bluetooth device with your Windows Phone, you don't need it draining power either. Turning them off is even easier in Windows 8.1, in Action Center. Like other notification centers on iPhone or Android, swipe from the top of the screen down to display Action Center.
From here, simply tap the Bluetooth and/or Wi-Fi buttons to disable. You'll know the features are off as they turn gray like in the screenshot below. If you're currently connected to a network, tapping the Wi-Fi button will bring you to Wi-Fi Settings where you can toggle it off.
Disable scanning for new Wi-Fi networks
Speaking of Wi-Fi, by default your phone is set to continuously scan for new Wi-Fi networks. This is an interesting new feature in the updated mobile OS, but most people connect to hotpots at places they frequent, like a coffee shop or at home. While the phone is scanning for networks, it's also draining your battery.
To turn it off go to Settings > Wi-Fi > Manage and uncheck "Automatically connect to Wi-Fi spots provided by my mobile operator" and "Send information about Wi-Fi connections to help discover nearby Wi-Fi."
Sync email less often
By default your email is synced on a regular basis, but you can set email and contacts to sync less often. Go to Settings > email+accounts and tap the account you want to change the sync settings for. Then tap the "Download new email" field and select a longer time interval, or better yet, select Manually. Then you can still check messages, but it won't be constantly syncing in the background and draining power.
Managing the display
As with any mobile device, changing a few display settings can help your battery last much longer. To reduce brightness, go to Settings > Brightness and turn off "Automatically adjust" and select the low level. To reduce the time before the screen turns off go to Settings > lock screen. Then swipe down and change the time it takes for the screen to time out.
More battery saving tips
Limit the amount of items you pin to Start. It's nice to have a favorite songs, contacts, and app data at the ready, but the more live tiles you have pinned, the more battery power you're using.
It takes more energy to color a screen with bright colors,so set your background to black. Go to Settings > Start+Theme and under the Background header select "dark" to make the change.
Of course there are third-party apps that allow you to manage power settings. One in particular I've found useful is simply called Battery. It has a lot of the same features as the native Battery Saver utility, but provides more detailed information about the battery, and includes more notifications.
If you get a lot of calls and emails throughout the day, disable vibration as it is very power consuming. Go to Settings > ringtones+sounds and turn it off.
Turn off the display while taking calls. If you're on speaker phone and don't need to use other apps on your phone, you can save some juice by turning off the screen during calls. To do that, simply press the power button.
If you have a Windows Phone with Near Field Communication (NFC) capabilities, chances are you don't use it a whole lot. Unless you need it, it's draining your battery for no reason. To turn it off go to Settings > NFC and toggle it off.
All of these suggestions will help you save battery power throughout your workday, but the power savings come at a price. You aren't able to use your phone to its full potential. Windows 8.1 has a lot of cool new features, but they do take a lot of battery power. I certainly wouldn't use all of these tips, just pick the ones that work best for your situation. If nothing else, try enabling Battery Saver and configure it accordingly. Results will vary depending on your model of phone.