HOW TO BE A POWER RANGER
Gadgets are never more useful than when you’re travelling. Whether you need to find an interesting place, work out how to get there, or tell the world you’ve been there, smartphones and tablet computers can be invaluable. But they come with one major design flaw: an ever-depleting battery that often only sees out the day.
While this might be OK for European travellers, it’s more of a challenge in the Antipodes where some popular destinations are more than a day away. To help your devices last your entire journey, we’ve gathered the best tips, tricks, and accessories to keep them powered.
CHARGING ON THE GO
If you have access to an airport lounge, find a seat with power so you can board the plane fully charged.
This is just the first instance in which travelling with a power board or charging hub is useful. Devices such as the Australian-made Cygnett SuperCharger UFO ($60) will let you power up to five devices at once, ensuring your entire tech cache is ready to fly. If you’re lucky, you could also find a power outlet by your plane seat. Qantas offers in-flight power outlets in its first- and business-class seats on most aircraft, and they’re more common on local airlines in some countries, such as the United States. However, be aware that these power outlets only offer 110 volts and will take longer to recharge your Australian devices. You can check whether your plane seat has power by entering its details at SeatGuru.com.
CHOOSE PORTABLE POWER
There’s nothing quite like the smugness of having your own power source during an unexpected travel delay. These gadget lifesavers now come in a multitude of forms.
If your priority is keeping your phone charged, Mophie makes battery cases for smartphones from Apple, Samsung, and Google, and they protect its form and significantly extend time between charges.
If your Apple Watch is important too, Nomad has an $US80 device called the Pod Pro that will charge it and your iPhone simultaneously.
But if you prefer to keep your charging options open, companies including Belkin, Cygnett, Sony, Mophie, and 3SixT offer universal power bricks to charge any device.
Some come with charging cables attached, like the $200 Mophie PowerStation Plus Premium Kit, while others will charge more than one device at a time including powerhungry tablets, such as the $70 3SIXT JetPak. Tablets typically require a 2.1amp power supply to charge.
MAKE SURE IT’S SAFE
Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority maintains a host of rules around carrying batteries on a plane as carrying them incorrectly can have serious consequences. A Melbourne flight endured a fire in the cargo hold in 2014, for example, when a lithium ion battery malfunctioned.
For this reason, spare batteries must be confined to your carry-on luggage where they can be easily accessed if anything goes wrong.
Batteries should be under 100 watthours, which covers the majority of portable batteries, such as Belkin’s generous MIXIT Power Rockstar 10000 ($90) that can recharge a phone four times. If in doubt about your battery, check its airworthiness at dangerousgoodsapp.casa.gov.au.
ONLY USE WHAT YOU NEED
This is the last resort for saving battery life but it works. If you want to keep your phone on during transit, turn on flight mode to limit its wireless communications, turn down the screen brightness and close demanding apps such as Facebook and Instagram. Engage your phone’s power-saving mode. If you have an Apple iPhone, Low Power Mode stops the phone automatically fetching mail, listening for Siri commands, and refreshing apps. For Samsung phone users, Power Saving Mode reduces screen brightness, turns off haptic feedback, and limits performance, and Ultra Power Saving Mode turns off apps, and turns the screen black and white. With a 10 per cent charge, and this mode engaged, you could get calls and texts for a day.