How to take care of your smartphone battery?

It seems complicated but caring for your phone’s battery is just a matter of habit.

Confused about the discussions on battery life and battery care? You’re not alone because many feel the same way, including yours truly.

However, in this article, insights are offered to clarify some confusion and perhaps demystify some obscured elements in taking good care of your phone’s battery. We covered the common things that most people encounter in their everyday smartphone use. 

Disclaimer: This article explores the topic through the author’s lens, offering perspectives. The information is drawn from multiple sources, including news and user discussions. While the content intends to spark conversation, we encourage you to make your own conclusion.

How a Smartphone Battery Charges Up

Most batteries today, including the one inside your smartphone, are primarily made of lithium. We are still quite far from using new materials because of prevalent issues in mass production and raw components. Thus, we’ll just focus on lithium batteries.

In simple terms, whether it’s Li-Ion or Li-Po, a battery stores energy when you charge your smartphone. When the device is plugged into any energy source, it causes the electrons in the cathode to flow to the anode. The internal resistance of the battery generates heat during charging.

Fast charging literally increases the flow of power inside the battery and that also raises the temperature even more. That’s why manufacturers are adding protocols to protect the battery during charging.

Why Smartphone Batteries Degrade

Like all things, your phone’s battery degrades over time and you can’t stop that from happening. Just using your phone regularly causes a teeny tiny bit of wear and tear on the battery. However, you can slow it down to extend battery health for many years.

But don’t fret! Many brands are applying modern tech that promises up to 80% battery performance capacity after three to four years. That means, with good care, your phone’s battery should be at 100% performance capacity in the first two years.

Why Charging Rate Drops

Confused why the charging rate drops after a while? Here are some known associated factors:

  • Battery Level: Depending on the brand and model, fast charging will stop at a specific battery percentage. This is normal and part of the device to protect the battery from damage.
  • Device Being Used: Fast charging may stop or not reach the maximum wattage if the phone is in use. This is also a method of protecting the battery from intense heat. It’s a reason why your phone charges slower when you’re using it than leaving it be.
  • Temperature: Heat is bad for batteries. Modern smartphones have intelligent chips or software features that monitor temperature. Once a temperature is reached, it will order the charger to lower the wattage to prevent overheating. 
  • Different Charger: Sometimes, the phone’s packaging includes a fast-charging brick designed to trigger the maximum fast-charging rate. If you use another charger, it’s unlikely to activate the top-speed charging. It’s a reason why you must always use the right charger for your phone.
  • Faulty Equipment: Damaged charging cable and/or brick can impact the charging rate. It’s highly recommended to replace them.
  • Problematic Port: Dirty, clogged, or defective charging port can lead to slow charging.

How to Care for Your Phone’s Battery

Keep the Phone Cool

Don’t expose your phone to high temperatures for long periods. It’s normal for your phone to reach high temperatures when gaming or using the camera though.

The optimal temperature for mobile phones is between 0℃ to 35℃, easily achieved when idle. Also, temperatures ranging from 36℃ to 43℃ are considered normal. Above 43℃ is considered very hot.

To lower or maintain acceptable temperatures, move the heat away from the phone. Direct an electric fan or place an external cooling fan on the phone’s back. The wind will push away the heat and keep the device cool.

If you’ve seen “phone radiators,” be careful because some of them can cause condensation. There’s no IP rating that says waterproof and water resistance only prevents water from entering the device. Internal moisture can lead to corrosion and damage hardware parts.

Therefore, too much heat and freezing temperatures are bad for your phone and the battery.

Never Drain the Battery

Lithium batteries love the 40-80% range. This is why you never get a phone with 100% battery level. Brands usually charge them up to 80% only.

Experts advise that never let your phone’s battery be drained below 20%, especially down to 0%. Each time this happens, you’re hurting the battery and decreasing its maximum capacity.

Professor Hyeong Jin Kim at the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology explained that every time the battery drops from 100% to 0%, its capacity declines by 1%. On a battery with 100 charge times, the remaining battery capacity is 1% after 99 charges each time it’s drained to 0%.

If it’s charged before it drops to 50%, the charge limit may grow and even peak at 200 times!

Overcharging

This has been a subject of discussion among many people. The takeaway here is don’t do it. Although draining the battery is more damaging, overcharging comes with a risk too.

Lithium batteries can be overcharged but doing so, especially overnight, continuously generates heat – again the greatest enemy of batteries.

Many modern smartphones now have a feature that significantly slows down charging speed for overnight charging. You can find it under the Battery settings and what it does is turtle speed the charging upon reaching 80% battery level.

Some implementations can even predict when you’re going to unplug the phone in the morning.

Optimal Charging

As much as you can, charge optimally between 40% and 80%. Troublesome? Go for 30% to 90%.

Does that mean no full charging anymore? Nope. The ranges mentioned above are simply meant following Lithium’s nature.

If you’ve to go outside and expect an all-day battery, charge your phone up to 100%. This is acceptable because your phone must also be charged completely from time to time, about once a week.

Wrong Voltage

Did you know that smartphone batteries are usually between 3.7 and 4.4 volts? Several third-party apps, like AIDA64 and DevCheck, could show you that. Voltage represents the push of electric current while watts represents the flow of power rate.

Although quite rare to happen, if you use a charger with the incorrect voltage to your phone’s battery, risks of accident and battery damage are high. Your phone’s charging brick has the necessary information about this. Use the phone’s camera and take a picture of it for reference. If possible, use Macro mode and see the result.

Some phones today are smart enough to detect an incompatible with the charger during charging. A notification will appear on the screen to let you know about a problem. That’s the time to stop charging it with that brick.

Recap

Here are the things you must keep in mind to extend the battery health of your precious smartphone:

  1. Avoid extreme temperatures, particularly high temperatures.
  2. Avoid draining the battery, especially below 20%.
  3. Avoid overcharging often. Enable built-in charging optimizers for overnight charging.
  4. Practice the optimal charging habit as much as possible.
  5. Always use the charger provided by the manufacturer for your device, specifically the one from the box that came with the unit.

Caring for your phone and its battery isn’t really difficult. It’s like caring for your other possessions except digital items shouldn’t be washed.

So, what’s your charging habit?

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