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article imageDoes decreasing a smartphone’s brightness increase battery life?

By Tim Sandle     Apr 10, 2013 in Technology
A physicist has conducted a number of experiments on his mobile phone to see how the battery life can be extended. He came up with some interesting results.
Rhett Allain is a physicist and, like most people, a smartphone user. Frustrated by the common situation of getting towards the end of the day and his smartphone battery moving rapidly from green, to amber, and then to red, he looked at how the battery life could be extended.
The outcomes of his study are shown on his Wired Science page, accompanied by various equations and neat looking charts. He carried out his experiments using an iPhone 4. In terms of the outcomes of his study, the most important finding was that if the brightness level is adjusted downwards the battery on the phone lasts for longer.
Allain found that an iPhone 4 should last about 6.5 hours of continuous use on the lowest brightness setting and about 3.5 hours on the highest brightness setting. Of course the lowest brightness setting makes the screen on the phone hardly visible, so the optimal setting would be somewhere in-between the maximum brightness setting and the lowest (Allain showed that putting the brightness at about half would give a battery time of around 5 hours).
Allain also ran a second experiment with his phone in airplane mode (which is when the Wi-Fi and 3G functions are turned off). With this setting he also adjusted the brightness settings and ran trials with the phone at the lowest and maximum brightness settings. Here, the battery saving was lower with an 1.5 extra hours saved by going to the lowest brightness setting (vs. the highest); and with the phone at half brightness level, the user would get about 1 hour more of use.
Finally, the physicist looked at the amount of time the phone was used per hour. Here, further time savings were found when the brightness was turned down. Effectively, the more often the phone is used, the more time that can add to the battery by turning down the brightness.
In addition to these findings, Stuff Magazine also suggests using darker wallpaper as a means to reduce the brightness. In terms of different models of phones, Gizmodo looked at: the iPhone 5; the Nokia Lumia 920; BlackBerry’s Z10; HTC One; Sony Xperia Z; LG Nexus 4; Samsung Galaxy S3; and the Motorola Razr HD. The outcome here was that the Moto Razr HD was the clear winner.
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