The iPhone 3G is an incredible device. I recently took a ten day trip with my iPhone, and used it every single day in dozens of different ways (including as—go figure—a cell phone). It has become an essential tool in both my digital and real life.

As I wrote in last week’s Kibbles & Bytes newsletter, I do wish the battery in the iPhone had a little extra stamina. I’m getting the TruePower extended battery for iPhone 2G/3G/iPod touch before my next extended trip.

In the meantime, here are twelve tips suggested by Apple and learned from our experience that should help wring a little extra juice from an iPhone or iPod touch battery.

1. Always make sure your iPhone has the latest software from Apple, as engineers may find new ways to optimize battery performance. You can update to the latest software with iTunes 7.7 or higher.

2. Turn off Wi-Fi: If you rarely use Wi-Fi, you can turn it off to save power. Go to Settings > Wi-Fi and set Wi-Fi to Off. However, if you frequently use your iPhone to browse the web, battery life may be improved by using Wi-Fi instead of cellular data networks.

3. Turn off Bluetooth: If you rarely use a Bluetooth headset or car kit, you can turn off Bluetooth to save power. Go to Settings > General > Bluetooth and set Bluetooth to Off.

4. Use Airplane Mode in low- or no-coverage areas: Because your iPhone always tries to maintain a connection with the cellular network, it may use more power in low- or no-coverage areas. Turning on Airplane Mode can increase battery life in these situations; however, you will be unable to make or receive calls. To turn on Airplane Mode, go to Settings and set Airplane Mode to On.

5. Turn off 3G: Using 3G cellular networks loads data faster, but may also decrease battery life, especially in areas with limited 3G coverage. To disable 3G, from the Home screen choose Settings > General > Network and set Enable 3G to Off. You will still be able to make and receive calls and access cellular data networks via EDGE or GPRS where available.

6. Adjust brightness: Dimming the screen is another way to extend battery life. Go to Settings > Brightness and drag the slider to the left to lower the default screen brightness. In addition, turning on Auto-Brightness allows the screen to adjust its brightness based on current lighting conditions. Go to Settings > Brightness and set Auto-Brightness to On.

7. Fetch new data less frequently: Applications such as Mail can be set to fetch data wirelessly at specific intervals. The more frequently email or other data is fetched, the quicker your battery may drain. To fetch new data manually, from the Home screen choose Settings > Fetch New Data and tap Manually. To increase the fetch interval, go to Settings > Fetch New Data and tap Hourly. Note that this is a global setting and applies to all applications that do not support push services.

8. Turn off push mail: If you have a push mail account such as Yahoo!, MobileMe or Microsoft Exchange, turn off push mail when you don’t need it. Go to Settings > Fetch New Data and set Push to Off. Messages sent to your push email accounts will now be received on your phone based on the global Fetch setting rather than as they arrive.

9. Auto-check fewer email accounts: You can save power by checking fewer email accounts. This can be accomplished by turning off an email account or by deleting it. To turn off an account, go to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars, choose an email account and set Account to Off. To remove an account, go to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars, choose an email account and tap Delete Account.

10. Minimize use of location services: Applications that actively use location services such as Maps may reduce battery life. To disable location services, go to Settings > General > Location Services or use location services only when needed.

11. Minimize use of third-party applications: Excessive use of applications such as games that prevent the screen from dimming or shutting off or applications that use location services can reduce battery life.

12. Lock Your iPhone: It may seem obvious, but you should lock your iPhone when you aren’t using it. You will be able to receive calls and text messages while it is locked, but nothing happens if you touch the screen. To lock iPhone, press the Sleep/Wake button. You can also set the Auto-Lock interval so your iPhone will turn off more quickly after a period of inactivity. To set Auto-Lock, go to Settings > General > Auto-Lock and set the interval to a short time, such as 1 minute.

Bonus tip: Use iPhone Regularly: For proper maintenance of a lithium-based battery, it’s important to keep the electrons in it moving occasionally. Be sure to go through at least one charge cycle per month (charging the battery to 100% and then completely running it down).

Finally, the iPhone 3G is stated to offer up to five hours of talk time on 3G, ten hours of talk time on 2G, five hours of internet use on 3G, six hours of internet use on Wi-Fi, seven hours of video playback, or twenty-four hours of audio playback on a full charge at original capacity. The iPhone features up to 300 hours of standby time.

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