The post-apocalyptic reality of smartphone battery life made headlines over the course of the last few months when Samsung announced it would begin intentionally killing the charging capabilities of Galaxy Note 7 batteries around the world. While it was largely a safety measure to protect people from having a lithium battery blow up in their hands, it was still somewhat alarming: after all, pushing a software update to your phone to kill the battery is the stuff of Hollywood thrillers, at least the ones where the good guy is a rogue on the run and the bad guys are the uber-surveillancey government agents.
But a new report by a consumer advocacy group is less concerned with the intentional destruction of a user’s smartphone, and more with collateral damage that comes from updating your phone’s or tablet’s software. In both iOS and Android-powered devices, the group found a significant loss of battery life after updates, sometimes as much as 30%. A lot of this was attributed to the fact that the updates ran a lot of features in the background, but also to the more common sense approach that users might actually use their devices more once the new features and capabilities were installed.
Fortunately, even after installing an update, there are a number of steps that users can take to reduce the drain on their batteries. Things like disabling the location services on apps you don’t really need to track and disabling those darling new 3D effects in iMessage will help tremendously. Of course, turning off the background app refresh setting so that apps will only refresh when you open them will keep the phone from running a constant update of all your apps when you’re not using them. Finally, go through your menu and see which of your apps might be set to auto-play some content. You might be running that cute Vine your little sister sent you even when you’re not looking at it.