Powering Your Smartphones When the Lights Go Out


Hurricane Sandy just passed through our region and I am thankful that we in the West Chester area dodged a major weather bullet. However our neighbors in New Jersey and New York were not so lucky. Millions are without power. I have been watching the new ABC series “Revolution” which describes a world where the power goes out… for good. This is very scary, especially because we all rely on power for everything. We especially depend on our smartphones. These little devices we all seem to be carrying with us are after all really just little computers.

As a matter of fact a professor of mine, Dr. Alan Shark started off a CIO (Chief Information Officer) course I was taking by holding up his smartphone and stating, “These are not phones, they are now computers with phones Apps”. He was so right and his remark really struck me.

There is some good information here if I don’t say so myself. For example did you know that text messages take way less power then talking.

Anyway try to follow these tips the next time the lights go out. Which I hope is not for a long time.

1. Fully charge your laptop, and save that charge for your phone.
It’s easy to forget that our phones charge when they are plugged into our laptops via the USB port. This works even when your laptop is not connected to a power outlet. To get the most out of this trick, restart your laptop to kill all running applications and processes, dim the screen to nothing, and don’t use it for any other purpose. Just plug your phone in when the phone gets low on charge and allow it to drain your laptop’s (much larger) battery.

2. When the power goes out, turn off all the radios on your phone you’re not using. (WiFi & Bluetooth)
Your phone’s radios are the major drain on battery life. If you want to leave the phone connected to the cell network in case of emergency text turning off WiFi will preserve battery life, as will turning off the Bluetooth radio.

3. Keep your phone plugged into a charger until the power goes out.
No explanation needed here friends.

4. Turn off all “push” notifications on your phone.
News services and various apps send you “push” notifications that require your phone to power up just a bit in order to receive data from a remote location.

5. Restart your phone to kill all the apps that are running now.
This will assure that no unnecessary apps are running in the background, draining power by making the phone’s microprocessor do extra work.

6. Turn down the brightness on your screen.
Displays on phones are the other major battery hog. Turn down the display to the lowest level at which you can still read it.

7. Send text messages instead of making phone calls.
Text messages are tiny amounts of data, sent quickly, and do not tax your phone’s batteries the way a phone conversation does. Plus, texts are more likely to get through when the cell network is overwhelmed.

8. Borrow a cell phone car charger.
Sure, if you have a car, you should already own one of these items, but in a pinch, maybe your neighbor has one.

9. Do not use your phone.
This may seem obvious, but it’s easy to forget. When the power goes out keeping your phone available for emergencies is more important to updating your friends on Facebook or Twitter.