Modern day smartphones have a lot more in common with PCs than the rotary dialers of old. That's awesome when you want to watch a movie on the run or pop some pigs in Angry Birds, but the enhanced processing power comes at a steep price: greatly reduced battery life compared to less powerful cellphones. Some 4G phones won't even last through the workday -- unless you take matters into your own hands, that is. Here are six quick and easy tweaks that'll help you eke as much life as possible out of your iPhone or Android handset.
Tone down the display. That big, beautiful 4-inch screen might look its best at full brightness, but it sucks down batteries faster than any other single component on your phone. Most phones auto-adjust their brightness by default. Save even more juice by manually adjusting brightness to a low setting, then tweaking it as necessary in high-light situations. (Your picture will still look fine, we promise!) For most Android phones, head to Settings > Display > Brightness to fine-tune your brightness settings. IPhone users will find similar options at Settings > Brightness.
Kill it, kill it quick! Since the display consumes mondo power, you can save mondo battery life by having your phone go to sleep quickly. There's no need to use all that juice when you aren't actually using the phone. Change the "Screen Timeout" time to a low interval in an Android's display settings or tap to Settings > General > Auto-Lock on an iPhone.
Ditch the live wallpaper. Are you noticing a trend here? Animated wallpapers look cool, but static backgrounds consume less juice. (Plain black wallpaper is best, but admittedly boring - you can also use a photo as background.) IPhones don't support live wallpapers by default; Android users should head to Settings > Personalize > Display > Wallpaper.
Disable data connections you're not using. Active data connections are always sending out signals -- even if you're not actively using them. Don't have a Bluetooth headset? Turn off your Bluetooth radio. If you're on the road, disable the Wi-Fi radio -- or disable your 3G/4G cellular radio if you're on a Wi-Fi hotspot at home. Disable both if you're in a dead zone, like in a tall building or riding mass transit. Look in Settings > Wireless & Networks if you own an Android. Apple devices aren't quite as straightforward: you'll find Wi-Fi options in Settings > Wi-Fi, Bluetooth options in Settings > General > Bluetooth, and 3G options in Settings > General > Network. If feasible, use Airplane mode, which will cut out both voice and data connections. (Be sure to turn the radios back on when you need them, though!)
Handpick Location Services apps. The iPhone's Location Services can chew up a lot of battery pinging GPS satellites throughout the day. You can just turn all Location Services off completely in Settings > Location Services, but that'll keep you from using GPS whatsoever -- not so ideal if you want to use Maps or Foursquare. A better bet is to scroll through your apps and turn off Location Services for any programs that really don't need GPS data. We'd also recommend heading into the System services and disabling Location-Based iAds, Diagnostics & Usage, and Setting Time Zone (unless you're traveling).
Keep your email in check. Email push notifications are convenient, but your smartphone needs to continuously ping your mail server in order for it to work, and that will continuously drain your battery. iPhone users can disable this at Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Fetch New Data > Push > Off. While you're there, set the email retrieval interval to a higher duration (from 5 minutes to 30 minutes, for example) if you want to save even more juice. Even better, set it to "manually," which means your phone will only check for new emails when you open the Mail app. Android owners can tweak their email retrieval settings by opening the Mail app, hitting the Options button (three stacked horizontal lines), then tapping More > Settings > Send & Receive > Update Schedule >Frequency.
There tons of other battery saving tricks (disabling app notifications, turning off vibrations and haptic keyboard feedback, downloading an app that automates battery saving, etc.) but these six tweaks alone should turn even the most battery hungry of phones into an all-day warrior. If you're in the market for a new phone, our cellphone and smartphone reports include discussion about battery life.