How to extend the battery life of your iPad or Android tablet

December 19, 2011

Tablet battery life varies wildly depending on which model you own. Purchase an iPad 2 and moderate use could see it last the day. Take out an Acer Iconia A100, on the other hand, and you may be lucky to make it to lunch.

As we approach the holiday season, a time when tablet users are often on the road for long stretches, TabTimes considers the 14 best tips and tricks you can use to prolong the life of your tablet when you are away from the nearest plug socket. 

1. Dim the tablet display
First up, and perhaps the simplest way to save battery life, is to dim the tablet display, much like you would on a desktop or laptop PC. Simply visit the battery usage page, opt out of the auto-brightness controls, and manually dim the brightness as you see fit. The screen is a big hog of battery life, so this represents a really quick and easy way to add up to half an hour onto the life of your tablet’s battery.

2. Stop running applications
Another very easy thing to do to save battery life is to kill the unwanted applications residing in your tablet’s memory. This is especially important if you leave your device running continuously for a few days, as apps that have been suspended, but not stopped, will continue to run.

You'll see the best battery-saving results in Android. Go to Settings>Applications>Manage Applications, and stop your chosen app from the running menu.  

For iPad, simply double-tap the home menu button and hold down on the app icon to stop the application running. Owners of the RIM BlackBerry PlayBook, which supports multi-tasking, should note that they will save battery life by pausing applications when visiting other applications or when returning to the home screen.

3. Employ Flight Mode to turn off WiFi and 3G
Turning on Flight Mode will disable all radio signals, keeping you well clear of any Wi-Fi hotspots or Bluetooth connections. This mode will also disable 3G connectivity.  It is also worth noting that Apple argues battery life will be better if you just use 3G, as opposed to WiFi.

4. Remove all phone services
For those Android tablet users who are a bit more tech savvy, there is always the possibility of rooting their device in order to remove all phone services. This should result in a better battery life, whilst also improving the time it takes for the tablet to start-up and shut-down.

This option should definitely be considered by those tablet owners with a phone-optimized Android OS (v2.1 – v2.4). More details on how to do this using File Expert can be found here. Please note that if you have a corporate-provided tablet, your IT administrators will be none too happy about you attempting to root your device.

5. Disable push reports and notifications
One way to stop your tablet from constantly leaking battery life is to disable push reports. Push reports hurt battery life, as they will still look for new emails, updates and messages, even when your iPad or Android tablet is offline. Disabling these reports (or just disabling the sounds and vibrations that go with them) can be done within a minute from the settings menu, whether you are on Android or iOS.

6. Turn off location services
An increasing number of applications now want to track your location, and will continue to do so unless you turn this tracking off. To check which applications are running location services, go to Settings > General > Location services. You can set location services to be off for all or just select applications.

7. Turn off your automatic updates
Turning off automatic updates for Apps, Music and Books, which use your WiFi, will grant you some extra life. The same applies to Photo Stream for iCloud.

8. Update your firmware
It does not sound like an obvious battery saver, but new upgrades can enable tablet and app developers to find battery life fixes for certain applications.

9. Check for email less often
On the iPad, simply go to Mail, Contacts, and Calendar>Fetch new data and change to retrieve new data less often. There are options for manual or automatic retrieval, with the latter ranging from 15 minutes and 30 minutes to every hour.

10. Let your battery completely drain
It doesn’t sound like an everyday battery tip, but charging your tablet to 100%, and then using it until it powers down actually represents a good workout for battery. Doing this at least once a month can make for a longer-lasting battery in the long term by properly conditioning your power source.

11. Be careful where you charge your tablet
In a hot environment, your tablet will suffer, including the battery. The iPad’s optimum temperature is around 72 degrees Farenheit, so try to keep it around that level. Too much heat will cause permanent battery capacity loss.

12. Do not overcharge your tablet
This is an easy mistake to make, and a common faux pas among tablet and smartphone users who leave their device to charge overnight. Overcharging can have negative long-term effects on the lifespan of the battery.

13. Buy an external battery pack
For those worried about losing power, it's probably worth buying an external battery pack or external charger, which can give you up to 8-10 hours extra. These cost between $40 and $50.

14. Use the keyboard
Finally, it is worth noting the advantages of having a tablet with an integrated/pop-out keyboard. Those owning an Asus Eee Pad Transformer/Prime or Acer W500 will gain up to nine hours of extra battery life by switching from the touchscreen to the keyboard.


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