Smartphones can save our skins in many ways. But only if they have enough juice to do so. There is nothing worse than being on the go, trying to access a critical email, only to find your battery doesn’t have enough power to even bother rendering that precious message. So what do you do when you need to eke out as much of that battery as possible? Here are a few tips that will keep your battery in top form.

This article originally published in TechRepublic’s Five Tips blog.

1: Shut off unnecessary services

I have found the GPS does little to get me through the day. So unless I am using an application that absolutely must have the GPS turned on (and it’s an app that I must use), I leave that feature turned off. It can drain the battery the fastest, so when you need battery life over location discovery, turn it off and leave it off. Turn off WiFi as well. It’s another top offender. Although many might argue against this, I find the speed gain of WiFi is not significant enough to offset the battery drain.

2: Upgrade your firmware

You would be surprised how much better 2.x is at retaining battery life than is 1.x. It was a significant upgrade on many levels, but none was more significant than battery life. One of the critical issues that was fixed was the ever-present messages application not going to sleep. Now the tool goes to sleep, thus saving your battery from an untimely demise.

3: Turn off notifications

Believe it or not, notifications can seriously drain your juice. I like to leave on notifications for text messages but no more. Turn off both sound notifications and LED notifications to save as much battery as you can. Just remember that you will have to manually check your email to see if anything is new since the last time you checked. Common sense, but you never know.

4: Turn off keyboard feedback

This one may not seem so obvious to most users, but that vibration does use power. As often as you use your keyboard, you’re adding to the decline of your battery power click by click by click. This actually serves two purposes. With the feedback turned off, your keyboard will also respond much faster than it would with it on.

5: Add a task killer.

I like Advanced Task Killer Free. This tool allows you to kill any task that is currently running. I actually place a shortcut to this tool on my desktop so that a single press will kill any unnecessary tasks that are slowly chomping away at my battery life. I will randomly hit this during the day (especially when I feel my phone heating up) to kill those background apps. I have yet to experience an app like this taking the phone down with it, so you can generally feel pretty safe using such tools. And the battery life they will save is certainly worth the price of admission (even the non-free apps).

Simple steps

How quick was that? If your Android phone suffers from a short battery life like mine does, following these rules should make your battery last quite a bit longer than it does with the stock setup. It’s not perfect, and you won’t find yourself with multi-day use from a single charge, but you will get far more life from that battery than you were getting.