Give your smart­phone’s bat­tery a boost

Si­mon Jary’s tips will let your ex­tend the life­span of your smart­phone’s bat­tery

PC Advisor - - CONTENTS - Don’t charge bat­tery from zero- to 100 per­cent

Bat­ter­ies are one of tech’s most boring sub­jects… un­til your phone, tablet or lap­top dies, that is. While most of us live in fear of a fad­ing phone bat­tery when we’re out and about, we don’t worry too much about that its even­tual life­span (prob­a­bly be­tween three and five years), but there are ways to keep your bat­tery in tip-top shape for a long and fruit­ful life.

So here are some tips to ex­tend your bat­tery’s life­span, be that in an iPhone, An­droid phone, Win­dows phone, tablet or lap­top.

Bat­tery mem­ory ef­fect

Bat­tery mem­ory ef­fect is about bat­ter­ies re­mem­ber­ing charge if you didn’t let them go all the way to zero too of­ten. So a bat­tery that’s fre­quently charged from 20- to 80 per­cent might ‘for­get’ about the 40 per­cent that’s left un­charged (0- to 20 per­cent and 80- to 100 per­cent). Sounds crazy but that’s sort of true, though only for older nickel-based (NiMH and NiCd) bat­ter­ies, not the lithium-ion bat­ter­ies in your phone. Lithium-ion (Li-ion) bat­ter­ies don’t suf­fer the mem­ory ef­fect, so you al­most need to do the op­po­site – charge them of­ten but not all the way through­out the day and don’t let them drop to zero. The rule with Li-ion bat­ter­ies is to keep them at 50 per­cent or more most of the time. When it drops be­low 50 per­cent top it up a lit­tle if you can. A lit­tle a few times a day seems to be the op­ti­mum to aim for. But don’t charge it all the way to 100 per­cent. It won’t be fa­tal to your bat­tery if you do a full recharge – most of us are forced to do this ev­ery now and again in emer­gen­cies. But con­stantly do­ing a full recharge will shorten the bat­tery’s life­span.

So a good range to aim for when charg­ing a Li-ion bat­tery is from about 40- to 80 per­cent in one go. Try not to let the bat­tery drop be­low 20 per­cent.

Full bat­tery charge

Ex­perts rec­om­mend that you do a full zero- to 100 per­cent bat­tery recharge (a ‘charge cy­cle’) maybe once a month only. This re­cal­i­brates the bat­tery – a bit like restart­ing your com­puter, or, for hu­mans, go­ing on hol­i­day. The same goes for lap­tops, by the way.

Overnight charg­ing

Most mod­ern smart­phones are clever enough to stop charg­ing when full, so there isn’t a great risk in leav­ing your phone charg­ing overnight. But some ex­perts rec­om­mend you re­move the phone from a case if charg­ing for a long time, as a case could lead to over­heat­ing, which Lithium-ion bat­ter­ies do not like.

Fast bat­tery charg­ing

Many An­droid phones have a fea­ture that al­lows for fast charg­ing. Sam­sung even calls its tech­nol­ogy “ultra fast charg­ing”. Mo­torola boasts about its Droid Turbo that prom­ises an eight-hour charge in just 15 min­utes. HTC’s Rapid Charger 2.0 charges de­vices such as the One M8, One E8 and De­sire Eye 40 per­cent faster.

These phones have spe­cial code, usu­ally lo­cated in a chip known as the Power Man­age­ment IC (PMIC), that com­mu­ni­cates with the charger you are us­ing and re­quests it send power at a higher volt­age. Ap­ple’s iPhone 6 doesn’t fea­ture fast charg­ing, but its Qual­comm PMIC is smart enough to recog­nise when you use a higher-amp charger (like the one you get with the iPad), and that’s a good thing be­cause fast charg­ing will heat up that Li-ion bat­tery and cause it in­creased wear and tear.

For the same rea­son, don’t leave your phone in a hot car, on the beach or next to the oven. A hot bat­tery will suf­fer long-term ef­fects on its life­span. And so will a su­per-cold one, so don’t leave your de­vice in the freezer or out in the snow.

So, if you can, switch off fast charg­ing on your An­droid phone.

Us­ing a charger

Where pos­si­ble use the charger that came with your phone, as it is sure to have the cor­rect rat­ing. Or make sure that a third-party charger is ap­proved by your phone’s man­u­fac­turer. Cheap al­ter­na­tives from Ama­zon or eBay may harm your phone, and there have been sev­eral re­ported cases of low-cost charg­ers ac­tu­ally catch­ing on fire.

Stor­ing bat­tery tips

Don’t leave a Li-ion bat­tery ly­ing around too long at zero per­cent. Try to leave it at around 40- to 50 per­cent. These bat­ter­ies drain at about 5- to 10 per­cent a month when not in use. If you let the bat­tery dis­charge com­pletely and leave it un­charged for a long pe­riod of time, it may even­tu­ally be­come in­ca­pable of hold­ing a charge at all (that’s prop­erly dead). It’s un­likely you’ll leave your smart­phone ly­ing in a drawer for very long, but some peo­ple do leave their lap­top, bat­tery packs or spare bat­ter­ies un­used for long pe­ri­ods of time. So try to keep them all at least half charged.

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