How To Keep Your Gadgets Charged And Stay Productive

How long can you last without your smartphone? You don't have to be nomophobic to be constantly checking your phone, ensuring you have enough juice to last the rest of your day. And, as more work becomes mobile, keeping devices charged is also a concern for businesses. So, here are some tips to keep your gadgets charged throughout the day.

Is this your worst nightmare? via Shutterstock

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Devices first

The best place to start keeping your gadgets charged are the gadgets themselves. While better battery technology may be a while away, not all devices are created equal. Making smart decisions in the buying process can be the difference between having charge and not.

A recent Consumer Reports study found that the top five smartphones sorted by battery life are all Android, with the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy S6 both achieving more than 24 hours of talk time on a charge. When it comes to laptops, there are lots of long-lasting laptops to choose from, from Chromebooks to 2-in-1s and netbooks. Shop around and look at reviews. Remember, it's not all about battery capacity — operating system and hardware will also have an impact on how long your device lasts.

Change your habits

Once you've chosen your device there are plenty of little things you can do to get the most out of each charge. Keeping your devices cool is a good place to start — batteries degrade faster at higher temperatures, losing up to 35% of maximum capacity over a year at 40 degrees.

There are loads of little changes you can make in settings and usage as well — turning down the display brightness, sleeping instead of shutting down, and turning off bluetooth and wifi, for example. Further, don't let your devices run down too often, or keep them plugged in when they're fully charged — smaller, more frequent charges can help prolong the life and cycle of your batteries. Many devices — especially laptops, have "power saving" modes that do a lot of this for you — automatically reducing screen brightness and putting hard disks to sleep when on battery power, for example.

Grab every bit of juice before you head out image via Shutterstock

Cases and batteries

Once you've sorted your device and usage, and still need more power, it's time to look at supplementing what you have. There is a wide range of batteries and battery cases out there, to suit all kind of devices — different capacities, outputs, and form factors. You could go a fully independent battery like the Jackery Giant, or a case for you device like the iPhone Smart Battery case.

To understand what you need, look at the battery capacity of your device. Most of our device batteries are measured in mAh - milliamp hours. An iPhone 6s has 1715 mAh, the Samsung Galaxy s6 has a removable 2550 mAh battery, and a netbook like the Asus ZenBook UX305 has 3,900mAh.

You're best off picking up something with at least half the capacity of the device you are looking to supplement — to charge you halfway and get you to the nearest wall socket, but it is possible to buy power packs that can charge you devices multiple times over. It all depends on your needs and budget.

Alternate power sources

Once you leave wall sockets and external batteries behind, you start needing weirder and potentially less reliable sources of power. Like solar and kinetic generators, or a battery a doomdsay prepper would use.

While Australia has plenty of sun, charging your devices with solar power has never really taken off. And there's a good reason — it's really inefficient. The smaller photovoltaic panels you would source from the likes of Goal Zero or Voltaic generally take hours to charge something like a phone, and that's with good sunlight — you'll probably have to re-position the panel occasionally.

If waiting hours for the sun to charge your devices isn't your cup of tea, there are plenty of other, weirder, options to recharge your devices. You could, for example, build a fire and use one of the several pots and stoves that can turn heat into electricity. Although there's no saying what that heat will do to your cables, let alone your devices' innards. Alternatively, if you're a gym junkee you could turn your next run into electricty with Ampy, or wind-up your device with Jiffy — a charger aimed at survival situations.


Comments

    Choose a device with a removable battery.

    This may not be an option for everyone (e.g. Apple users), but when shopping for your next phone or laptop keep this in mind. There's literally no faster way to go from low battery to fully charged than a 30 second battery swap. Plus, internal batteries are smaller, lighter, and cheaper than external ones.

      Yeah but a problem with the removable battery is how are you going to charge it back up if it's not in the phone itself? At least with an external battery you just plug it in to a USB wall charger. And if you get a new and different phone, you can still use the same battery. I used to be with you on the whole removable battery thing but now I'm not for those reasons. It was also sometimes hard to find spare batteries if you didn't buy them as the same time as the phone. Too many times I ended up with some unbranded battery that wasn't as good as the original.

        Many removable batteries are sold with a charging station. If not, then buy one off Ebay for a few dollars. For my phone I bought 2 spare internal batteries for $8 each and a charging station for $3.50. I won't be able to use them for my next phone, but I'm more than happy to spend less than $20 extra with each phone I buy for the convenience it provides.

        I also don't think it's realistic to expect an external battery to last the lifetime of multiple phones. Most batteries only have a 1 year warranty, and an expected lifetime of 2-3 years. That's the same expected lifetime of a phone, so it makes sense to buy a new battery with a new phone.

          I think batteries have gotten a lot better, I've had a few of the external ones for 3-4 years. The first one that died was mostly that the case around it started falling apart rather than it wouldn't hold charge. The other two are still going. For me the external battery is more convenient, I just carry that and a standard cable and can charge it. Unfortunately as you know it's a bit hit and miss with some stuff, sometimes you pay a premium for no good reason and other times it's actually worth it. For me the external battery premium is worth the reliability and you also get to scale up, so if you want a battery with more capacity, easy. For a phone it's more limited.

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