How-to: Tips for improving battery life | webOS Nation

How-to: Tips for improving battery life

by Derek Kessler Mon, 21 Jun 2010 12:29 pm EDT

Palm Pre Battery

It’s the curse of the modern smartphone: a zillion chips and sensors and a bright powerful screen and umpteen radios all sucking power from battery tech that hasn’t seen drastic improvement in the last decade. And it’s also one of the biggest Achilles’ heels of the Palm Pre and Pre Plus. It’s been a while since we last visited this area, with the Pre and Pixi having now launched onto several new networks across the world, it’s high time we revisit the land of electricity. After the break, we break it down...




If there’s one way to quickly draw-down your battery, it’s to use the phone. Yeah, we know it’s kind of obvious, but that’s how it works. While webOS has gotten much better about leaving open apps and not having them kill the battery, it still hurts some. Especially if that app is one that accesses the web frequently, or even worse, streams data.

So some tips for apps alone: if you’re going to be away from a charger most of the day, don’t kill time with 3D games or extensive web browsing. It’s okay to load a few web pages and read them, but link-hopping for an hour will kill your battery. If you have apps that regularly poll a server for updates (e.g. Twitter clients), either completely disable the polling or increase the time interval.


If you’re not using it, turn it off. The battery savings won’t be huge, but every few minutes helps when you’re at 5%.


webOS supports two basic kinds of email retrieval: push and pull. With push email the server reaches out to your phone whenever a new email arrives, whereas with pull the phone has to get online and poll the server to find out if there’s been anything new.

If you have a push email account (i.e. Gmail or Microsoft Exchange), set your email sync setting to “As mail arrives.” If your push account is incredibly active, it might be better to set it to poll on a regular basis (say, hourly) instead of pushing new email every few minutes.

Same goes for non-push accounts, the longer the interval between polling events will help to conserve battery life.


As with Bluetooth, if you’re not using it, turn it off. Turning off GPS isn’t the easiest in webOS, but if you get into homebrew there are several patches that add a GPS option to the system menu.

Instant Messaging

If you’re not using it, log out. IM maintains a pretty consistent data connection, and that will drain your battery faster than it needs to.

Screen Brightness

Turn it down. The Pre and Pixi have incredibly bright screens, much brighter than they need to be. Set your brightness down to 10-15% and you’ll save oodles of power.

Signal Strength

It’s not so much an issue for GSM phone owners, but those of us with CDMA smartphones know all too well the pain of being stuck in a poor signal area. CDMA phones will try their darnedest to connect to a tower of their home network, even if a stronger-strength roaming tower is available. If you find yourself in that sort of a pickle, put your phone to Roam Only for the duration of your stay in no-mans-land. Though we should note that most carriers will frown upon you roaming for too long (Sprint, for instance, only wants you to roam for no more than half your calls and data usage).

Alternatively, if you’re having trouble with roaming onto other networks, you can turn off roaming and stick to your own towers. Every situation is unique, so some trial and error may be in order to figure out which option will help you the most.

Additionally, you can update your PRL (Preferred Roaming List) on CDMA phones to enhance your roaming coverage.


Turn Wi-Fi on and leave it on. Seriously. Unless you’re someplace where there’s positively not a Wi-Fi network to which you can connect, leave Wi-Fi on. The Wi-Fi radio in all webOS phones (with the exception of the Wi-Fi-less Sprint Pixi) is notably more power efficient than the cellular radio, so whenever possible use Wi-Fi instead. Plus, if you’re on a metered data plan, you can save your bytes for later.


Spare Battery

The quickest and most sure-fire way to get your power back is to throw in a fully-charged 1150mAh spare battery. Granted, you have to wait for your phone to power down, swap out the dead battery, and then wait as the phone boots back up, but once that’s done you’re back at full power.

Bigger Battery

Of course, if you run with a bigger battery you won’t have to swap out all the time. The good folks at Seidio have crafted two extended life batteries: a 1350mAh stock-sized battery good for about 17% more life, and a monster 2600mAh super-sized battery that’ll boost your battery life by 125%.

Car Charger

The worst place to run out of juice is on the road, so if you find yourself in the car all the time, you might want to consider a car charger. Palm’s own modular car charger provides power through the standard micro-USB port, while options like the SPE micro-USB car charger give the option of having a spare USB port to charge your other gadgetry.


Palm’s award-winning Touchstone charger is simply the coolest way to charge your Pre or Pixi. The magnetic induction charger puck and back make it beyond easy to charge, and there’s no reason you can’t pick up another one to set up at work, or even in your car.

So that’s our round-up, tips and tricks ready to extend your Palm phone’s battery life into near perpetuity. We know that there are plenty more ways to save juice, sound off in the comments with your favorites!