#MobileLife : Low Battery Anxiety Disorder : Symptoms and Cures

Classic symptoms of a very real problem: low battery anxiety disorder & its cure.
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Low BatteryI’m paranoid.

There was this joke I came across on Facebook the other day, about the “Low Battery Anxiety Disorder” sweeping the nation. And ever since I moved from the Nokia E and N series phones to the slicker, touchier and very very draining smartphones, I’ve definitely been a victim of the same!

Classic Symptoms of this Very Real Problem

This is coming from an Android phone user – who was on Symbian before large screens and battery anxiety took over – so the context is definitely within that!

You Find Yourself Seeking Battery-Charging-Knowledge

The internet is full of optimal ways to charge and discharge phone batteries so they last long, charge fully and drain slow. You find yourself looking this up, getting confused by the many debates and even studying in great depth how and why Li-Po batteries are different and need a totally new understanding of the subject.

You probably also know which aftermarket chargers tread the fine line between charging quicker and overheating and killing the battery.

And you have even explored the extreme ways to keep that battery going!

You’re The Uber-Planner-Charger

Before and overnight journey or a long day at an event or attending meetings when there’s no certainty of finding a handy enough plug point you plan the Charging of the Phone. This is no common task. You already know that leaving chargers plugged in overnight can damage the batteries, or at least reduce their effective life span – so the easy way is out. On the other hand, the one hour you need to get dressed and grab a coffee before you head out can result in a fair bit of pointless charge-loss – not good. So

  1. You ensure the battery is charged enough to last the night as you go to sleep, and that the time you have in the morning will suffice to top it up!
  2. You set 2 alarms – one to wake up and the other 5 minutes after that just in case you forgot to plug the charger in. You might even give this alarm an appropriate name!
  3. You try and get to “Charged” a few minutes before you leave. When this happens, it is supremely satisfying! Less so when you get there a full half an hour early, or start too late and just have to leave home with a 96% full battery – terrible feeling!

You Own a Powerbank

Large batteries, quick chargers and great techniques are not really enough. You have a powerbank – preferably something that can charge your phone twice and with a 1A+ USB out! No long road trip, camping weekend or train journey is a cause for battery-concern anymore!

You Know All The Phone Settings

First up, when buying a phone, the size and rated life of the battery are amongst your top concerns! That’s one reason I bought the phone I did.

Each time there’s a new phone, or a major upgrade to an app – you’ve first gone poked around at every possible setting and turned off everything you suspected might be a drain on the battery, and that you did not really need. If you’re like me, you frequently monitor what’s eating the battery, and fiddle with the settings often enough to actually use up at least 10% of the battery!

Personally I’ve never played too many games on the phone anyway, but you are very aware that it drains the battery a lot so do it when there’s a charging point handy. If you’re as paranoid as I am, you also keep the accelerometer, auto-brightness and all forms of vibrations and haptic feedback turned permanently off.

Unless you need to, you do not even turn data or Wifi on. And seriously, maps work fairly well for most use cases you need with cell tower triangulation – why let the GPS eat the battery? Unless you are out under the bright sun, the really awesome screen is visible in the dimmest brightness setting as well – it takes more than a mere squint of the eye to force you to change that!

This is certainly not a happy, healthy way to interact with technology. Think of all those poor souls creating all those amazing apps around features that you turn off because you’re worried about the battery!

So, What’s the Cure?

First, turn off and uninstall everything that shows you the battery percentage on your home screen. Seriously, it doesn’t help anything but your anxiety increase.

Get Your Facts Right. Get Your Apps Right.

Little else eats up battery than weak network signals. If you’re in a no signal zone, the phone doesn’t seem to try too hard – it only seems to increase power supplied to the antenna when it has some, but not strong enough network reception.

If you’re inside areas with decent network strengths, there’s little else to worry about.

The next big one is the set of apps you download. There are a bunch of apps – both free (more) and paid – that help you figure out which apps use how much power.

Finally – stop worrying about how many charge cycles the battery has and how long it will last. Seriously – its relatively cheap, and given the normal lifetime of a battery or even the phone, is that a real concern at all? You might as well focus on deriving the most you need out of it now.

What Do You Need? Size Does Matter.

For starters – 3.5 vs 4 vs 5 vs 6 inches of screen real estate makes a huge difference.

Look past the latest and stop being driven by the size wars – pick a screen that’s stop being driven by the size warsadequately big for your needs – you might realize that even the smaller battery lasts a lot longer!

Of course, it is still pointless to waste battery on live wallpapers, and it makes sense to use GPS cautiously (keeping it “on” has little impact unless an app uses it), but I learned that with the right apps, I could actually keep data on all the time and toggle WiFi freely! So over time, I turned some of these back on, and turn them off only when travelling to places where I’m not sure of finding reliable electricity connections, or the time to do it.

I’ve never missed the accelerometer or switching modes – the screen’s wide enough and I do not play games.

Experiment and you’ll soon know your phone well enough to be less worried, and without having to give up on what you need out of the phone!

Be One With The Device

This is about trust. Most newer phone batteries will easily see you through a full day these days, and often more. Like I said earlier, turning the screen on merely to check how much battery you have left can become a significant drain on it with increasing paranoia!

Looking at the System Settings > Battery stats once in a while helps you understand the phone, but there’s no real reason anymore to worry all the time.

So relax and trust the OS developers – they’ve come a long way and thankfully for them, increased screen sizes have allowed for more battery space to be crammed into phones. Except for those special trips or hardcore usage scenarios where you expect to keep the screen, and some app or the other, switched on for hours together, you can even afford to leave the charger at home!

Image credit: Shutterstock

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