5 Ways to Extend Your iPhone Battery Life While Cycling

Like many of cyclists, I use my iPhone to capture my ride and on short rides that is no problem. On longer rides where the hours tick on by, I need to maximize the battery life of my iPhone. This posting will explain what I do to extend the battery life of my iPhone 4.

First of all, you really need iOS 5 or higher. If you haven’t upgraded, what are you waiting for? iOS 5 brings you multitasking that works along with the Apps that support it. It also fixes the obtrusive, bring to a halt notification system. I had times where I was into a 40 minute ride,  a text pops up and the bike computer app looses all of its data for that ride! Talk about aggravating. The multitasking feature allows you to turn the screen off and still allow the application and the data-port (I have my ANT+ sensor plugged in there) to be still active running in the background collecting data.

The other thing that I do to extend battery life is I stop all the apps running in the background. For those that do not know, just because you do not see the app running on the screen, Words With Friends and Angry Birds are still active running in the background. All of these apps are busy doing their thing from plain sight taking up CPU processing time or check the Internet for updates or what not. You need to stop all Apps except the bike computer App that you are going to use. Terminating them is a fairly simple process:

  1. Unlock the iPhone
  2. Double tap the Home button
  3. You will see a new row of App icons at the bottom. Those are the Apps that are running. You can scroll left or right to get to the App you want to bring to the front. In our case, we want to turn them off
  4. Press and hold any of the Apps until they start to wiggle.
  5. You will notice a “-” negative sign at the top left of the icons. Click on each one to turn them off until you have only your bike computer App

That’s it for turning off all Apps except for the one you want.

The next step is to turn off notifications and turn off your email checking or set the interval when it checks to once per day or some large value like that.  While you are at it, turn off wireless and Bluetooth. If you use a Bluetooth enabled heart-rate monitor then you will need to leave it on. They are both off when I go out riding.

The biggest drain on your battery is the screen. As much as I love the screen, for long rides of several hours you will need to keep that off as much as possible. Turn it on to see some data but for the most part I have it off. If your app supports it, have it set to dim the screen after a period such as 30 seconds. This means that you will have to push the home button then swipe to turn it on. An inconvenience but it’s not that bad. I got my App to chime every 5 miles so I know how far I have cycled without even looking. I also use that time to to drink water.

Recently, I found an App that will blank the screen automatically and turn instant on by touching the screen. I rarely have to do the swipe thing. This really maximizes the battery life even further.

To recap here are the five steps to keep in mind:

  1. Upgrade to iOS 5. You need the multitasking and the notifications system
  2. Turn off all Apps except the Bike Computer program
  3. Turn off wireless and Bluetooth
  4. Turn off notifications and pushing of emails or other data
  5. Turn off the screen. Set the App to auto dim after 30 seconds

What do I get for all this effort? How about 5.5 hours of total ride time and my battery life is at 35%. If you run on GPS only then you can buy an external battery that plugs into the dataport for about $50-$60 at BestBuy. This is how I extend the battery life on my iPhone 4 while cycling. Results will vary.

Keep on Pedaling!

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