Researchers at Aalto University in Finland have designed a network proxy that they say can cut the power consumption of 3G smartphones by up to three quarters.
The device acts as a 'middleman' for mobile devices to connect to the internet, handling the majority of the data transfer for the phone.
The system's developers say that it should be particularly useful in developing countries, where phones' high energy requirements have slowed the adoption of mobile internet services.
many people simply don't have access to a power socket in order to recharge their phones.
"This new solution is particularly valuable in developing countries because it provides significantly more effective Internet access to a much larger number of people," says says Professor Jukka Manner.
"At the moment, only a small percent can access the internet from a wired connection, but 90 percent of the African population lives in areas with mobile phone network coverage."
The team's tested its new system, along with other power-saving technologies, in Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya.
They've found that, as well as the new, optimized proxy solution, the power consumption of smart phones can be significantly reduced by mobile optimized websites, HTTP compression and more efficient use of data caching.