Give your smartphone’s battery a boost
Simon Jary’s tips will let your extend the lifespan of your smartphone’s battery
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.
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.