Four out of 5 adults age 50 and older say they rely more on technology now to stay connected with family and friends than they used to.
Older adults group-text friends, navigate around traffic jams on trips and stream videos on services from Apple TV to YouTube. So it’s no surprise that the batteries on laptops, smartphones and tablets might conk out quickly.
You can squeeze more life from your battery and enjoy more time with your tech. These tips also can help put off the time when your battery stops holding any charge at all.
1. Dim the screen
Turn down the brightness of any screen you're on to at least half to help preserve battery life. This can usually be found in the Options or Settings area.
On an Android device, such as a Samsung Galaxy, swipe down twice from the top of your screen. You'll see a ☼ sun icon at the bottom, on the left of a thin bar. Manually lower the brightness of your phone or tablet by dragging your finger along this line.
Keep in mind that Android settings vary across devices, so the steps you see here and elsewhere in this article may look a little different on your phone.
On an iPhone or iPad, swipe down from the top right corner of your display — or on iPhone 8 or earlier, swipe up from the bottom edge of your display — to access the Control Center, which has a thick brightness bar identified with a ☼ sun icon. To lower the brightness, use your finger to drag the line between light and dark down or to the left, depending on your phone's orientation.
Alternatively, many devices have a sensor that can detect ambient light around you and adjust the screen accordingly, such as by brightening the display in a dark room.
Many Android phones already have adaptive brightness enabled and are supposed to learn your preferences as you use your phone. If you've been frustrated with changes in brightness that you didn't expect, you can clear those preferences and make the phone learn all over again. To clear the preferences, tap or search for your Settings | Apps | Device Health Services | Storage | Clear cache. Then adjust the brightness manually. If your lighting changes and the screen is not what you want, change it again. The phone needs about a week to relearn your lighting preferences.
For an iPhone, enable it by going to Settings | Accessibility | Display & Text Size | Auto-Brightness. If the toggle switch is green, it's already on.
2. Shorten the time until sleep mode
Laptops, phones and tablets turn off their screen after detecting inactivity. That way, they're not using power to illuminate their display when you're not looking at it.
While 10 to 15 minutes of awake time is a good rule of thumb for a laptop or a tablet, you might want to power down your smartphone sooner. When any device enters sleep mode, the display turns off and background functions are paused.
You’ll have to enter your password again (or use a biometric method) to wake it up, a good deterrent to pranksters who might want to walk away with your phone or send a crude message in your name. Here’s how to change the default.
• With an Android phone, find your options at Settings | Display | Screen timeout.
• On an iPhone, choose your favorite time in Settings | Display & Brightness | Auto-Lock.
• On a Mac with macOS Ventura, click the Apple logo | System Settings | Lock Screen | Turn display off on battery when inactive. Choose a time from the drop-down menu.
• On a Windows PC, type sleep in the search bar or magnifying glass 🔎 at the bottom of the screen to find several options for Power and battery settings.
3. Use power-saver mode
While you might not want low-power mode on all the time, many new computers, smartphones and tablets offer it in some form, enabled in Settings, that often turns the screen to black and white, darkens the display and turns off nonessential wireless features.
Devices running low on battery power will sometimes switch to a power-saving mode automatically with about 20 percent remaining power. You can handle it manually on your phone.