If you rely heavily on your cellular phone, discovering that your battery is nearly dead can be a shock. All those wonderful features of modern smartphones use battery power, and your battery can fade rapidly even while the phone is in your pocket. Fortunately, you have several options for replenishing your battery, even if your charger's broken or forgotten at home.
The simplest and most obvious option is to keep a spare charger on hand, perhaps in your glove compartment or backpack. Most phones now use a standard micro-USB connection for charging. This makes universal aftermarket chargers inexpensive and easily available, athough phones from makers such as Apple or Blackberry might still work best with their own branded chargers. You can also use a micro-USB cable to trickle-charge your phone from a computer or other device. It's not as fast as a conventional charger, but can help get you through the day.
Many companies manufacture portable chargers for cellular phones, using their own high-capacity battery to charge your cell in its hour of need. For example, the Innergie Pocket Cell packs two weeks of charges into a compact oblong weighing 2.5 ounces. The competitive iSound and LenMar products are larger and heavier, but can charge multiple USB devices at the same time. Similar devices using butane-powered fuel cells are also beginning to arrive on the market.
Charging Mats and Pads
Several companies offer charging mats or pads that can recharge batteries for almost any device, including cell phones. The Duracell PowerMat and Energizer Qi feature inductive charging, which uses electromagnetic energy to charge the battery. You'll need to buy the mat itself, plus a sleeve to fit your phone so that it can be charged this way. Duracell's MyGrid system uses sleeves with electrical contacts, to charge phones the traditional way. The Energizer product is one of the first to demonstrate an emerging wireless-charging standard, also called Qi. Any Qi-compliant device will be able to use any Qi-compliant charge pad.
Public Charging Stations
As consumers become more reliant on their phones and tablets, running out of battery power becomes more problematic. Some entrepreneurial companies offer public charging stations for use in bars, libraries, coffee shops and anywhere else people gather. These charging stations, from companies such as BrightBox and goCharge, provide secure locked-down storage for your phone as it charges. The venue can choose to provide charging services for free as a means of attracting customers. Alternatively, it can charge for the service as a revenue generator. The manufacturers' websites will help you locate a charging station, and BrightBox will attempt to place a machine at any suggested location.
Prolonging Battery Life
Mobile charging is inconvenient. It can be a lifesaver, but it's better to not need it at all. Most manufacturers offer higher-capacity batteries, which can extend your charge life considerably. You can also stretch the life of any battery by careful usage. If you'll be out for several hours, turn off any apps you don't use regularly. They take up processor clock cycles, and increase battery drain. Often, you won't even know they're running unless you learn how to check your processor usage. Do the same with your location services and any push notifications. Use high-bandwidth features, such as streaming video, sparingly.
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