Given the recent bushfires and floods around the country, we thought it was a good opportunity to share some tips on conserving mobile phone battery life in an emergency.

We asked Telstra staff from all areas of the business for their top tips on conserving mobile battery life in an emergency – and we’re pretty certain you’ll see a tip here which you haven’t considered before.

Charging your phone

1. Have a car charger handy

Car mobile phone chargers are relatively inexpensive, and allow you to charge your phone from your car if electricity is unavailable. Sean, a Senior Technology Specialist working in Telstra’s Infrastructure Planning area, notes: “Even better if you have an outlet that doesn’t require the car ignition to be on to charge its accessory outlets (just don’t let the battery die!)”

2. Consider solar chargers and wind-up chargers

Okay, they don’t sound like something you’d use regularly; but these can be really handy if you’re camping or travelling. James from our Service Delivery group notes: “there’s an iPhone charger that sticks to the window and uses solar power”.

One staff member who’s done a lot of travelling in remote places has a lot of experience with solar charges. Darren, a Business Administrator in Telstra Finance, explains: “I have it down to a fine art… I carry around 3 solar chargers with me when I do the long trips… I’ve had three chargers which I could recharge when I had power, and solar when I didn’t by hanging in the window.”

3. Don’t leave your phone in the sun

It may sound like an odd tip, but leaving your phone in sunlight is detrimental to your smartphone’s battery charge. Krystal from our Organisational Development team explains: “Probably worth mentioning that leaving your mobile in the sun does can reduce battery life. My mother tried that with her iPhone last week and it overheated.”

4. Keep a USB cable handy

Got a laptop with a full charge? You can use that to charge your mobile phone via a USB cable. “Charging a laptop when you know that a power outage may be imminent will allow you to charge your smartphone if electricity is cut off. Newer laptops have special USB ports than can provide power with the laptop still off, an even better use of the laptop’s power for USB devices,” notes Tony, a Solution Designer working in Telstra Operations.

5. Purchase an external battery charge pack

External battery chargers “piggyback” onto your phone and are pretty useful for everyday use as well. Tony from our Delivery & Service Operations team explains: “I use an external battery charge pack which uses a standard USB to Micro USB connector to charge its own battery (backup) and has the iPhone connector built in. When power is available it charges both the phone and the battery, when the power is not available, I turn off Cellular data – and make sure it is in a good reception area because the lower the reception the more power the phone uses. With no power the backup keeps the phone at 100% charge until the backup battery is discharged and then I use the % remaining as the countdown to empty.”

Managing your apps

6. Delete apps which constantly run in the background or maintain a data connection

Chris, one of our Marketing Team Managers, offered similar advice: “Turn off apps running in the background which maintain a data connection. These can include apps like Skype and Viber which maintain a persistent connection. Even though they may only use a small amount of data, they can use a lot of battery life.”

7. Reduce your push notifications – or switch to manual push

Chris had another tip relating to push notifications. If you have apps such as RSS, news, or social networking apps for email which automatically check for new data, reduce the frequency of checks or switch to manual updates only. “If you have your email, Facebook, twitter and news alerts set up to refresh continuously or every 5 mins, you will find your battery really suffering,” notes Chris.

8. Avoid watching videos

It sounds pretty obvious, but unless you really need to, avoid watching the latest videos on YouTube or similar sites. This uses more data, and consumes more battery power.

Changing your phone settings

9. Switch off services which you don’t need

This includes switching off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, unless absolutely necessary. One app to assist with this, Juicedefender, was recommended by multiple Telstra staff. This app automatically switches off data, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi when your Android phone is inactive for a very long time.

10. Disable GPS and location services

Gavin, an Applications Product Lead offered another great point here: “Turn off Location Services, or at the very least keep a tight control on Apps and Services which are using them.”

11. Turn off notifications

Another tip from Gavin: “Notifications, turn them off – all of them! … If something or someone REALLY TRULY needs your attention, they can call.”

12. Disable screen brightness

Numerous staff members offered this common-sense suggestion – reduce the screen brightness on your phone. It’s also worth changing your display settings so that your phone display automatically turns off after one minute (or the lowest setting available).

13. Enable your phone’s Battery Preservation mode

Some phones have a Battery Preservation mode which automatically activates many of the settings we’ve mentioned above.

Making and receiving calls

14. Keep calls short

A tip from John in our Internal Communications team: keep your calls short and succinct. If you need to check on something, offer to call someone back rather than stay on the call.

15. Forward your calls to someone with more battery life

If your mobile phone is about to run out of battery, and you’re with someone who has substantially more battery life, consider forwarding your calls to their phone. This was suggested by Tim, a graduate in our Automation team; and Krystal from our Organisational Development team. Our Call Forwarding FAQ has more information.

16. Email friends and family to let them know you’re okay and plan a “call back time”

Another tip from Tony in Telstra Operations: “For smartphones, have an email list of people to inform you are OK and send them the advice so that you can keep you phone free for emergency and to conserve power. This will be useful for a range of other reasons and can be built into your emergency planning including a planned contact time, e.g. between 6-7pm.”

Got any further tips on extending your mobile phone battery life during an emergency? Add yours to the comments below.