12 Tips for Maximizing Your Tablet’s Battery Life (and Avoiding a Disaster on the Construction Site)

tablet out of batery on construction site

Your tablet may be one of the most useful tools you use on the construction site as an architect, but if your battery runs out, it may as well be an expensive paperweight.

Many tablets now offer 8-10 hours of battery life so technically, you should have plenty of charge when you’re out and about. But if you have a device with a lower capacity battery or you forgot to charge earlier in the day and get a low battery warning when you’re on-site, what do you do?

A dead tablet will often mean your day’s work on site is over. While you may be able to get away with taking notes on paper and photographs on your phone, this will waste a lot of time compared to working directly on your tablet. You’ll also not be able to access any plans or other files you need. All together, a stupid thing like running out of battery can cost you multiple hours and cause a lot of frustration.

Ideally, you don’t want to ever let yourself get in the situation of working on a construction site with a dead tablet.

Luckily there are several easy ways of reducing your tablet’s power consumption and saving battery life, even if you are down to minimal levels. Make sure you never run out of battery power again by following these 12 simple tips.

1. Charge Your Tablet While You Sleep

One of the easiest ways to make sure that your battery never runs out is to charge it regularly. It’s easiest to do this at night while you are sleeping – put a charger next to your bed and make plugging in your tablet part of your night time ritual. After a while this will become a habit, meaning you’re unlikely to forget it. You’ll wake up to a fully charged tablet, which in most cases should last the whole day.

2. Invest in a Car Charger

This is another way to make it easy for you to remember to charge your tablet regularly. If you are out and about driving a lot during the day, buy a charger for your car. Once you’ve got into the habit of charging your tablet while you’re on the road, you’ll never run out of battery on-site again.

3. Lower the Screen Brightness

The brighter your screen is, the more battery power it will use. Rather than setting your brightness at 100%, find a level that is lower but still comfortable to view – you can always increase it temporarily if you need to look at your screen in bright sunlight.

Some tablets have an automatic brightness feature that can be activated to adjust the brightness depending on the ambient lighting without your input. However if your battery is running really low, it’s better to disable auto brightness and put it on the lowest setting manually.

You can also activate your power saver settings so that the screen automatically dims and then turns off when not in use. Set your idle time to be short so that your screen is not using up valuable power if you do not use the tablet for a minute or two.

White or light wallpapers also use up the battery faster than dark wallpapers, as do animated or “live” wallpapers. For maximum battery life, choose a dark static wallpaper or just set your background color to black.

4. Close All Open Apps

Apps consume memory and battery life. Turn off all apps you’re not using when your battery is running low to extend the time you have left. Apps often run in the background, which isn’t always obvious, so go into your tablet settings to see which apps are running and turn them off manually.

It’s also a good idea to uninstall any apps that you don’t use to eliminate the possibility that apps are running tasks in the background without your knowledge.

5. Disable Notifications and Updates

There’s no need to be notified every time one of your friends updates their Facebook page and these notifications can slowly eat up your battery life. Turn off notifications for social networks and email and disable “push” reports and news updates.

If you really want to keep some of your notifications on, disabling their sound or vibration can help reduce impact on the battery. You could also try increasing the interval for checking for updates (for email for example) to a longer time period.

Automatic updates for software and books can drain battery in the same way, so turn these off too.

6. Switch Off WiFi, 3G, Bluetooth and GPS

When WiFi is activated, the tablet will constantly be refreshing its connection status and looking for signals (you can tell this as the number of signal bars goes up and down when you move about). This uses up a fair bit of power, so if you’re not using the internet it makes sense to turn WiFi off.

The same principle applies for 3G, Bluetooth and GPS – in all cases your tablet will be continuously searching for a signal and using power as it does so.

Many apps use GPS to track your location which is unnecessary in most cases. You probably don’t need GPS unless you’re using some kind of map application or you need directions while you’re driving. Turn it off at the app level or disable location services in your settings.

If you are using WiFi for your internet connection, turn off 3G and vice versa. Bluetooth is usually best activated only when you actually need to use it.

7. Switch to Airplane Mode

If you’re entering critical level on your battery power, switch your tablet to into flight mode. This disables all radio signals and Bluetooth connections, basically doing the job of you switching them all off manually.

You can also activate airplane mode while you’re asleep or not using your tablet, which will stop the battery from draining when your tablet is not in use.

8. Set Your Tablet to Sync Data Only Over WiFi

Apps like Dropbox can require a lot of connectivity time to upload and sync files, which is a drain on your battery as well as using up bandwidth that may be limited on mobile internet connections. Set them to only sync and upload when you are connected via WiFi, which is usually quicker than 3G and less strain on the battery.

9. Update Your Firmware and Apps to the Latest Version

Updated firmware versions are often more efficient and newer version of apps may have been updated to use less battery power. Update your apps and operating system software regularly to make sure you always have the latest version.

10. Install a Battery Management App

Use an app like Battery Doctor or Battery Life Pro to ensure efficient battery charging and enable you to keep an eye on your battery status and estimate charge time remaining. These apps will also let you see how much power each individual app is using up so if something is really gobbling up the battery life, you can disable it.

11. Keep Your Tablet Cool

Overly hot conditions will not only reduce the charging capacity of your battery, but will also shorten its lifespan as the effect is permanent and compounds over time. Take care not to leave your tablet in hot places (on a desk in direct sunlight or locked in a hot car) and avoid charging it when it is hot. Battery management apps can monitor the temperature of your battery so that you can take appropriate action when it is becoming too hot.

12. Consider an External Keyboard

If you do a lot of typing on your keyboard, using an external keyboard instead of the touchscreen can regain a lot of battery life. Some tablet cases come with an integrated keyboard, which is handy for turning your tablet into a mini netbook when you need to type up a report and you don’t have access to your office computer.

Final Thoughts

If you find that your battery is constantly running low and threatening to die completely when you need to use your tablet on-site, it may be time to think about upgrading your tablet. Modern tablets should last at least a day on full charge with normal use so if your battery is only going a few hours, you may want to look for an alternative.

As battery capacity increases with improved technology, we can look forward to batteries that last for weeks or months in the future. For now, following the above tips will help you to get the most out of your battery and make your tablet more reliable when you are working away from the office.