Relax. Deep breaths.
Here's the good news: Your smartphone battery is hanging tough at 4%. That's not bad! 4% is pretty good, if you think about it. Some of my favorite things are four. And hey, it could be worse—it could be sitting at 3%.
On second thought, let's not be too harsh on 3%—it looks like that's where we are now.
OK, listen—your battery's gonna die soon. I'm sorry, but there's nothing more we can do for it. There are, however, a few ways to make its last moments on earth a little more comfortable (for you).
Here's what to do in a pinch when your smartphone's running on fumes.
Throttle your display's brightness
Your phone's display puts a ton of stress on the battery, so if you're trying to squeeze as many minutes as possible out of a fading charge, the first thing you should do is manually set its brightness to the lowest level you're willing to put up with.
You might have to strain your eyes to see what's happening on your screen (and don't even think about being able to see video content) but lowering the brightness of your display is the quickest and most effective way to preserve battery life.
Turn off WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS
Unless you're parked in a place with free and reliable WiFi service, you probably don't need to have your phone's WiFi radio enabled. Similarly, if you're not tethering a Bluetooth-enabled device to your phone, you don't really need to chew into your phone's limited resources by leaving its Bluetooth hardware in use.
If you're taking advantage of a WiFi network and you don't plan on roaming anytime soon, disabling your smartphone's cellular data is an easy way to penny-pinch precious battery power percentage points.
And let's not forget GPS: Do you really need to have your phone's GPS switched on if you're not using a location-based service?
Your phone's at 2%—don't keep it on autopilot!
If your phone has a power-saving mode, use it!
Most smartphones come equipped with an "ultra" or "extreme" power-saving mode that keeps your power consumption conservative until the next time you plug your phone in to charge.
What these settings actually do depends on your phone's operating system, but generally speaking, they tend to cut down on superfluous features like key vibration and software animation.
On some phones, however, this feature will limit you to basic functionality, like calls, texts, and web browsing. Before initiating your phone's power-saving mode, be sure to have a handle on what, exactly, it does.
Stop power-hogging apps from running in the background
Buried in the settings menus of most iPhones and Androids is a tool you really ought to familiarize yourself with if you haven't already: the battery use tool.
Typically found in a phone's battery settings submenu, the battery use tool is a way for you to visualize and track how your phone's battery is allocating its resources.
Typically, larger, more work-intensive apps—like web browsers and mobile games—demand more battery power than "slimmer" apps, like the one you use to send text messages. If your phone's battery percentage is in the single digits, t's in your best interest to identify and close these power-hungry apps.
Another way to free up some resources is to turn off background refreshing for apps like Facebook and Twitter in order to stop them from siphoning off your battery's juice.
Buy a cheap portable battery pack for future emergencies
Truthfully, I don't use my portable battery packs very often, but whenever my back's against the wall and my iPhone's minutes away from kicking the bucket, its convenience cannot be overstated.
Even relatively low-capacity battery packs (like the ones that can only charge your phone once or twice) are complete game-changers. The piece of mind is totally worth it, especially if you don't end up paying more than thirty bucks.
We recently tested a whole bunch of portable battery packs and put together a list of some of the best you can buy right now, so if you're in the market for one—and you probably should be—than head over to our round-up.