Your BlackBerry: Hanging on for dear (battery) life

Charge your BlackBerry!
By Joseph Holder on 1 Jun 2011 06:46 am EDT
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Pop quiz, hotshot. There's a bomb on a bus. Once the bus goes 50 miles an hour, the bomb is armed. If it drops below 50, it blows up. What do you do? What do you do? Oh, and your BlackBerry's battery is about to die. The correct answer of course is that you jump off the bus at the earliest opportunity (be sure to tuck and roll) and charge your BlackBerry.

While the events of the movie Speed are thankfully uncommon, a battery drained BlackBerry isn't. The device is a victim of its own success; our CrackBerrys typically last a day or more on a single charge.  Why would you charge a device that doesn't need it? Then, towards the middle of the day, the battery level drops into that dreaded yellow zone. Less than 30% power remains. Be it a USB cable, wall, or car charger; get your BlackBerry some juice, stat. If that's not an option, there are a few things you can do to minimize your power use. You and your BlackBerry just might be able to limp along until the end of the day.

Turn off the radios. The Bluetooth, Wifi, and GSM/CDMA radios use a lot of power. If you're not using them, turn them off. I suggest turning off Bluetooth and Wifi first. You'll still be able to get messages and emails through the mobile network.

Close unused applications: Every application in your app switcher is silently draining power from your battery. From processor cycles to contacting servers on the internets, everything these apps do is slowly killing the remaining power in your battery. Close those resource hoggers.

Turn off the phone: There is a danger of draining the battery in your BlackBerry too much; if it dies too much, it won't hold a charge. There are systems designed to prevent this, but that doesn't mean you can't help. At less than 5% charge, your device will automatically shut off all radios. That's pretty much the signal for you to power down. Hold down the red key until the phone "shuts down."

Or, you could simply carry a spare battery. Oh, and please don't try that jumping off the bus thing. It seriously hurts. 

Reader comments

Your BlackBerry: Hanging on for dear (battery) life

24 Comments

What's the point of having the damn thing if you have to turn it off to conserve battery???? They can make 1" thick TVs, but can't make a battery that will last a whole day. Grrrr.

First, who are you referring to when you say "they"? Second, one could reasonably assume that a manufacturer operates under the assumption that people will turn off features they aren't using to...wait for it... conserve battery life.

Advancements in battery technology aren't comparable to other advancements in cellphone hardware and software. I use Android and Blackberry interchangeably and while my bold consistently runs longer than my nexus, I've learned to squeeze my nexus and make it last a full day with moderate use . The user just has to learn how to tweak their method of use to make the battery last longer.

If you think it's bad on a blackberry...

The writer clearly wrote the battery typically lasts a day or more on a single charge. I believe when he referred to middle of the day he was intending for it to mean the following day.
I've owned many Blackberry's and the battery is by far more superior than the current Android phone I have or the iPhone (3g/3gs) I had.

I AM LUCKY ENOUGH TO HAVE A SPARE BATTERY AND CHARGER...I RUN MY ESPN RADIO APP ALL DAY AT WORK WHILE PLUGGED IN WITH MY EXTRA CHARGER. THE EXTRA BATTERY HAS COME IN HANDY AS WELL!

I am considering purchasing a spare battery for holidays etc up the will hills of Scotland. Reading this is is advisable of applications to Menu and choose Close Application. I always thought the Back/Return key closed the app.?

This is why I ordered an extended battery for my Bold 9650 from Seidio lol. I am too much of a power user to use normal batteries

In all things you must find a balance.

Personal Security vs convenience (Sure you might be safer in a house with armed security guards, 16 different locks on every door, all surrounded by a moat with a computer-controlled bridge that only opens 4 times a day, and then only with the correct password, but is it worth the hassle to be that safe??)

Power vs economy. Huge, race-prepared 427 v-8 engine complete with supercharger. Lots of power? Heck yah. Great fuel economy? not so much. 4 cylinder Honda Civic.... Lots of power? not really... but pretty good fuel economy

Smartphone vs Dumbphone. all those apps, browser, email, huge bright colorful screen, multimedia, and fast network all mean battery drain. Humble, basic boring dumbphone... doesn't have all the bells and whistles, but I've had dumbphones go 3-4 days between charges.

So... if you want all the goodies, the tradeoff is shorter battery life. (Other tips for stretching battery life. Dim the screen all the way, and set the screen time-out as short as possible. Turn off the vibrate feature. Don't use the speakerphone. And you might be surprised how much juice you can gain by powering down the phone and plugging it in for a few minutes)

Not living in the middle of buttfuck nowhere seems to help too... Since (temporarily) moving to Windsor, I get 2-4 hours of battery life on my Tour. Whenever I go back to Toronto though, I can expect a minimum of 1 day and have even gotten away with not charging it for the whole weekend! Windsor sucks.

I don't have a lot of apps installed on my Bold 9000, but is there a utility available that will tell me which apps are still running, or better yet, which apps are drawing power? Another thing: When I purchased a new battery for my phone a few months ago, I was still on OS4. With that new battery, I was getting almost 2 days on a regular phone usage. But, when I upgraded to OS5 (1067), the battery and available memory started sucking out, so I can't even make it to the evening without getting low on power. Help?

If you're on OS 5.0 now, you can hold down the Menu button (BlackBerry button) and it will go to the application switcher which shows apps currently open. Phone, Messages, Browser, BBM, and Home will always be there, but others you can switch to and close if you don't need them.

I personally don't use a lot of battery, but the main thing I do to preserve battery life is to almost exclusively use the "Phone Calls Only" setting. My phone never vibrates and barely makes a noise. With the LED light blink and the fact that I check my phone as often as I can answer it, it really helps save battery life. Also, my screen dims quickly and I'm sure to put it in "standby" whenever I know I won't be getting to it for longer than 5 or 10 mins.

One thing to bear in mind, if you are in wifi coverage then turning off that radio would drain your battery faster unless you switch to 2g at the same time.

I get half a day of battery life on my tour.
I have 3 batteries, 2 desktop cradles and multiple charges. My led is always off and I only have the essentials always running in the background. I'm on the latest official os release. The battery life just sucks.

I charge my Storm2 whenever possible. In the car, watching TV. When taking a shower and during the night and espescially when downloading apps.

Luckily, my wife and I have BB (she has a Bold) and my son and daughter-in -law have Sprint EVOs. Same charger for all so when we visit and are low, when just charge up.

Good Luck

My Curve 8530 lasts about a day. I text a good amount once I get home, and listen to my music. So it's understandable. I have a car charger, so if I ever do need it, it's there. My Blackberry has lasted as much as 2 or 3 days with like no use, lol.

Cause they themselves drain the battery!

I have two extended batteries, might as well get a second charger that is in the style of a camcorder battery charger. Slide it on, it charges, slide it off. That easy. I never complain about battery life like most do.

So Joseph Holder is suggesting to turn off the radios? GSM/ CDMA too?

Well what's the point of having a phone if you can't even use it to talk? Plus if WIFI is turned off you can't even browse the internet......so what's it good for??

Perhaps you hit your head on the concrete too hard while jumping out of that bus.