Maximizing your smartphone’s battery life when you are off-grid

By Chris Guld, Geeks on Tour

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We just spent the last week in some beautiful national parks – Yellowstone, Grand Tetons and Rocky Mountain – but there was very little cell service in those parks! We could live with that, since we wanted to spend most of our time outdoors taking pictures. The distressing thing was how fast my phone’s battery ran down. Guess what?! Those two things are related:

  1. Limited cell service
  2. Short battery life

When there is not a cell tower nearby, your phone will keep searching for one. Searching takes up a lot of battery power.

Airplane Mode
The tip is to turn on Airplane mode. You don’t need to be in an airplane to use Airplane mode! What it does is turn off all communication, turn off all radios. You won’t be able to make or receive phone calls, no texting, no Internet or data usage of any kind. In remote areas, you’re not going to be able to do that anyway! I was astonished at the difference in battery usage. Leaving Airplane mode off, my phone was working hard, looking for non-existent signal. The battery would be dead in a couple of hours. With Airplane mode on, my phone was just a camera and the battery lasted almost all day. I still keep a battery backup charger with me!

Using Airplane mode more than doubled my battery life!

To turn on/off Airplane mode on an Android device:

  • Swipe down from the top.
  • You should see an airplane icon to tap – this is a shortcut. Note: you may need to swipe left to see it.
  • If you don’t have the shortcut, tap the gear for settings, find Airplane mode in the wireless and networks settings.

To turn on/off Airplane mode on iPhones

  • Swipe up from the very bottom to reveal your control panel (on iPhone X swipe down from upper right corner)
  • You should see an airplane icon to tap
  • OR tap Settings and then airplane mode there.

Remember to turn Airplane mode back off when you want your phone to be connected!

Chris Guld is President and Teacher-in-Chief at GeeksOnTour.com. She and her husband, Jim, produce a free weekly online show called What Does This Button Do?  They have been Fulltime RVers, popular seminar presenters at RV Rallies, and regular contributors to RVTravel.com, for many years.

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2 Thoughts to “Maximizing your smartphone’s battery life when you are off-grid”

  1. Sherry

    I always turn on airplane mode and sleep mode when I go to bed at night. I listen to an audiobook every night (sometimes for an hour or two) to relax me for sleep. Since I also use a CPAP machine running on a Renogy Power Pack, I don’t want to use any of its energy to charge my phone.

    Caution: If you want to receive middle-of-the night communications (or are concerned you might need to make an emergency call during the night), DO NOT use airplane mode while sleeping.

    Question: When traveling to a new distant location, therefore moving from tower to tower, I assume that also drains the battery. Is that correct? I’m thinking using airplane mode then would also be a good idea. I sometimes have several devices plugged in for charging while traveling, and may not have a USB port available for the phone.

  2. Thomas Becher

    Good advice, we went into the bowels of Hoover Dam and the tour guide said to turn off cell phones because they would search for a non existent signal and battery would be dead by the end of the tour

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