Even with battery cell technology improved, some smartphone batteries barely last a day. This most times is partially users’ fault because of the way they charge the phone.
Many have an ingrained notion that charging smartphones in small bursts will cause long-term damage to their batteries and that it’s better to charge them when they’re close to dead.
In fact, a site from battery company Cadex called Battery University details how the lithium-ion batteries in smartphones are sensitive to their own versions of ‘stress’. And, like humans, extended stress could be damaging your smartphone battery’s long-term lifespan.
If you want to keep your smartphone battery in top condition and go about your day without worrying about battery life, you need to change a few things.
Don’t keep it plugged in when it’s fully charged
According to Battery University, leaving your phone plugged in when it’s fully charged, like you might overnight, is bad for the battery in the long run.
Once your smartphone has reached 100 per cent charge, it gets ‘trickle charges’ to keep it at 100 per cent while plugged in. It keeps the battery in a high-stress, high-tension state, which wears down the chemistry within.
Battery University goes into a bunch of scientific detail explaining why, but it also sums it up nicely: “When fully charged, remove the battery” from its charging device. “This is like relaxing the muscles after strenuous exercise.” You too would be pretty miserable if you worked out nonstop for hours and hours.
Also, Venkat Srinivasan, Director of the Argonne Collaborative Center for Energy Storage Science (ACCESS), said that while you cannot overcharge a smartphone or tablet battery, as the electronics will not allow it, keeping it fully charged will hasten its degradation.
“Frankly, the higher you are in the [charge] state, as you creep up to 90 per cent, 95 per cent to 100 per cent charge, the more degradation the battery will see,” he said.
As a lithium-ion battery charges and discharges, ions pass back and forth between a positive electrode (made of lithium-cobalt oxide or lithium iron phosphate) and a negative electrode (made of carbon graphite).
As a battery charges, the positive electrode give off lithium ions that move to the negative electrode and are stored as energy. As the battery discharges, those ions move back to the positive electrode to be used as electricity. As those lithium ions move back and forth, the electrolyte that acts as the transport medium degrades over time.
The higher the state of charge, the faster the electrolyte degrades, Srinivasan said.
Therefore, it’s best not only to keep your smartphone below its top charge, but also to keep the charging and discharging pendulum from swinging wildly.
“In general, if you swing the battery charge from top to bottom, that’s the worst thing you can to for the life of the battery. If you can cycle the battery between 45% and 55% that’s the best thing you can do,” Srinivasan said. “But, in general, just make sure you don’t keep it fully charged.”
Try not to charge it to 100 per cent
According to Battery University, “Li-ion does not need to be fully charged, nor is it desirable to do so. In fact, it is better not to fully charge, because a high voltage stresses the battery” and wears it away in the long run.
That might seem counterintuitive if you’re trying to keep your smartphone charged all day, but just plug it in whenever you can during the day, and you’ll be fine.
Plug in your phone whenever you can
It turns out that the batteries in our smartphones are much happier if you charge them occasionally throughout the day instead of plugging them in for a big charging session when they’re empty.
Charging your phone when it loses 10 per cent of its charge would be the best-case scenario, according to Battery University. Obviously, that’s not practical for most people, so just plug in your smartphone whenever you can. It’s fine to plug and unplug it multiple times a day.
Not only does this keep your smartphone’s battery performing optimally for longer, but it also keeps it topped up throughout the day.