How to make your cell phone last all day at a festival

Unfortunately, all day music festivals tend to take place in locations which do not have cell phone towers nearby. When there are towers, they are often overwhelmed by the sheer number of people who are all equipped with cell phones in the vicinity. When your phone cannot successfully reach a tower, it often consumes more power by repeatedly attempting to connect to a tower. Having been to numerous festivals such as Coachella, Outside Lands, Treasure Island Music Festival and the like, I have put together a guide to help others who want to stay connected without running out of battery.

To prevent draining of your battery early in the day, take the following steps to maximize your battery life:

  1. Close any background apps that may be running
  2. Turn off wi-fi
  3. Turn off bluetooth
  4. Turn off automatic email syncing and notifications if your device offers that option
  5. Turn off cellular data (or just 3G / LTE if your phone gives you that option and you still want to do online stuff without going to settings)
  6. Turn down your screen brightness as much as possible. Finding shade is your friend.

Some phones, such as my Nokia Lumia 900 running Windows Phone 7 OS, have a battery saver option which accomplishes several of the steps above and is a good shortcut.

By making these changes, your phone will still be able to send and receive calls and text messages since text messages aren’t actually done over the data connection of your phone, contrary to cell phone companies’ 4G marketing claims. You can also still post to Twitter and Facebook via their text/SMS posting options. Be sure to set these up before the event since they need a bit of setup and you don’t want to be fiddling with that from the festival where you might not have a good data connection.

If your phone is on its last bit of power, you can just turn it off completely. You will obviously have to rely on voicemail for calls but any text messages that were sent to you will queue up on the network and get delivered within minutes of turning your phone back on.

Of course, you can also get an external USB power charger or extended battery case to keep your phone running late into the night. If your phone has a removable battery (sorry iPhone), you can also buy a second battery, charge it up the night before and bring it along with your phone – eBay has great deals on these.

Got any other tips? Drop me a comment and I’ll keep this post updated.

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