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Nor'easter: Six ways to keep your smartphone charged during an outage

Daniel Martins
Digital Reporter

Wednesday, March 26, 2014, 3:52 PM -

With a powerful nor'easter lashing the Atlantic provinces, power outages are inevitable, and thousands have already been reported.

Given the conditions, you'll likely need to stretch out your phone's battery life in case of emergencies. We've put together this list of ways you can keep that little light on for as long as you can.

Keep your smartphone AND your laptop plugged in until the power goes

Your phone is much more likely to be useful for the duration of the storm if it has a full charge when the power cuts out. If you know a storm is coming, plug in.

And do the same for your laptop. It's a perfect alternate charge station for your power-hungry smartphone. 

Be sure to keep it plugged in throughout the storm (taking care not to overload outlets), so that it's got a full charge when the outage hits. Consider investing in a surge protector as well.

Turn off every app you're not using

Every app that's running on your phone drains power. Go through everything and close down the ones you're not using, and turn off non-essential "push" notifications.

If the power goes out, it won't be business as usual. Your smartphone is, at its core, a phone, and you should keep it alive long enough to serve as a communication device.

So, yes, that means shutting down Angry Birds for awhile. Sorry.

Keep the screen dimmed and turn off vibrate

Aside from apps, some of your phone's physical features are big power drains.

The most obvious way to avoid this is to dim screen brightness. In darker environments particularly, you don't need your screen shining like a beacon.

Turn off vibrating functions as well, and lower the volume on notification chimes - these can really make a difference when you're checking the forecast and communicating with friends and family via text.

Send text messages instead of making phone calls

If you have to talk to friends and family, try minimize the amount of time you spend on actual phone calls, and opt for texts instead.

The reason: Text messages use a much smaller amount of data than a phone call. It's also more likely to get through in the event of a major disaster, when phone lines are likely to be overloaded.

But please note, we're talking about non-essential communication. This point doesn't apply to 911 and other emergency calls, when you absolutely should place an actual call.

Look into battery-extending apps

Most smartphone brands include apps that, once downloaded, actually make suggestions on which power-sucking apps you could turn off, or ditch altogether, to maximize your battery life.

This one can be a little risky, though, since each app is different and there may be downsides to each.

Check out this handy guide to how to tell a good power-saving app from a bad one.

Get a backup charger

There is a staggering variety of portable smartphone chargers on the market that you can greatly extend your phone's battery life when plugging it into an outlet just isn't an option.

Tech World has a list of just 16 of them, but there are other lists out there. Some are compact enough to slip over your phone line an extra sleeve.

If you really expect a long outage and the sun has poked out at last, there are even ones that are solar powered. Shop around and see which ones are right for you.

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