Just like humans, cell phones sometimes need to charge their batteries. But does it really matter which way you charge?
Charging your phone or tablet is something many people take for granted and do not always pay much attention to. When the battery starts to run low, the charger moves forward. Then you take it out when you need the phone or tablet again. For most people, this approach works well. But the fact is that it is possible to improve the battery’s durability and life by charging it properly.
What is the right way and which of all the recommendations are true when it comes to when, where and how to charge your mobile or tablet? Should the battery be completely discharged at regular intervals? Is it dangerous to overcharge the battery? Yes, how should one really think?
Briefly about lithium-ion batteries
The batteries used in mobile phones, tablets and other technology where the battery needs to be able to be charged are called lithium-ion batteries (in English lithium ion, sometimes abbreviated li-ion). These batteries are used both because they are relatively fast to charge while they can store a fairly large amount of energy in terms of their size.
Technically (or chemically correct) works lithium-ion batteries in such a way that energy is forced out of the battery when the lithium ions inside the battery moves from its negative pole / electrode (called cathode) to the positive (called anode). When the battery is being charged, the process is repeated in reverse and the lithium ions is pushed back to the negative terminal of the battery.
Lithium-ion batteries are constantly deteriorating
As all other batteries are based lithium-ion on a chemical process to store and release energy. Theoretically this process could go on forever. However, we are not there today and probably never will be, even if advances in technology are made continuously. Instead, most, even ordinary consumers, agree that batteries get worse and worse over time.
This is due to the chemical processes that take place in a battery slowly wears out the battery. Even to the point that even a battery that is never used will eventually become unusable. Depending on how, how often and under what conditions one lithium-ion battery recharged and out, however, there is the possibility of extending its life. Because just like with humans, batteries also feel better under favorable conditions. If you now in this case then refer to “better” by “not stop working so fast”.
How to charge your phone or tablet to maximize battery life?
As I said, there are a few different tips and approaches on how lithium-ion batteries should be maintained to feel as good as possible. The tips below are from my own research based on other texts, studies and recommendations. It should also be pointed out that the possible increased life of the battery – even if you are really super careful with how you charge – is by no means extreme. But probably longer than if you charge in the exact opposite way.
The following tips apply to all phones and other devices, whether it be an iPhone, Samsung, Huawei, OnePlus or any other type of phone or tablet.
1. Do not charge in too high or low temperatures
The number one enemy of batteries is extreme temperatures. Both low and high. A good guideline is that lithium-ion batteries thrive best in about the same ambient temperature as humans. If you freeze, your battery also freezes. Likewise if you think it’s too hot. Charging a battery in too hot an environment is not only bad for the battery itself, it can also result in overheating. Charging a battery in too cold an environment is instead both slow and contributes to the battery deteriorating faster than normal. (Why does the phone consume more battery when it’s cold?)
2. Charge for shorter periods and more often
Many (myself included) like to charge their phone 100% as often as possible. Something that feels safe and good, but is not very good for the battery. Rather, it actually is more tiring for the battery to be at maximum charge, than a few percent below. The same is also true the times the battery becomes completely discharged and the cell phone dies. Something that even is even worse for battery durability and according to most should be avoided if possible.
Lithium batteries feels best being between about 30-80% charge. If you want to be extremely picky, it is even between 50-80% they are said to have the most cozy. For this reason, it is actually better to charge the phone from time to time to (as far as possible) keep the battery charge level within approximately these ranges.
3. Charge slowly rather than fast
Fast chargers are sometimes the best thing there is. But not always for batteries. Although some phones’ batteries perform fast charging better than others lithium batteries after all, it is best to be charged at a leisurely pace and then mainly for heat reasons. The more energy that is pushed into a battery at a fast pace, the hotter it gets. If you are not in a hurry, use a regular charger rather than a fast charger.
4. Use the correct type of charger
It is also important to use the right type of charger to charge your phone or other device. As far as possible, it is always recommended to use the charger that came with the device when purchasing as it is developed for that particular phone or tablet. In the second place, it is of course possible to also use a third-party charger of a well-known brand and with correct markings, e.g. CE marking.
Using a charger of an unknown brand can cause the battery to charge incorrectly or become unnecessarily hot. Missing labels (such as CE marking) the charger can in the worst case be designed in a way that can be directly dangerous both for the battery, the device and oneself.
5. Avoid using the phone while it is charging
Using your phone while it is charging mainly creates extra heat, something that batteries, as I said, do not like very much. The extra heat is, in short, due to the fact that the battery in these cases needs to work twice. Both absorb energy and at the same time generate energy to power the active parts of the phone. In addition to this, there is nothing particularly dangerous about both using and charging a phone at the same time. But if you want to be extra kind to the battery while you charge, it is best to actually turn off the phone or put it in airplane mode (which turns off all mobile communication).
6. Do not charge overnight
Even if all modern chargers, telephones and batteries have protection against overcharging (ie the charger tries to get more power than possible into the battery) in the long run, batteries do not feel great from being constantly connected to the charger.
When the battery charge level has reached 100%, most chargers use something called trickle charging. Which briefly works so that the charger automatically gives the battery just as much power as it needs to be constant at about 100%. A function that is theoretically great and also affects different batteries differently. Keeping a battery constantly fully charged, however, wears it out unnecessarily. Even in this case, the heat is also something to take into account. The longer the time in the charger, the longer the battery is warmer than it actually feels good to be.
When it comes to charging the phone overnight, the importance of absolutely not having it in bed should also be emphasized. Something that in the worst case and under a warm blanket can lead to fire.
7. If you are not going to use the phone for a long time
This is not a direct charging tip. But if you know you are not going to use your phone or another device for a long time, it is best to first charge the battery to about 40-50% before turning off the device and setting it aside. Then pick up the device again and charge it to about half the capacity of the battery approximately every 4-6 months.
Shouldn’t mobile phone manufacturers provide information on how to charge their phone?
Yes, you might think so. In fact, most of them do too. However, not via a large warning sticker on the phone or tablet. Instead, tips and recommendations on charging, battery levels and storage are often a bit hidden in manuals, on companies’ websites (e.g. Apple and Samsung) and in the device setup menus.
Conclusion: Do you really have to charge like this?
No, certainly not. In fact, the lives of many people are guaranteed to be much more stressful if you had to keep a close eye on exactly when and how you charged your phone. If you change the phone often (maybe every two years) you will probably not notice either from or to no matter how you charge it. Both phones, chargers and batteries are also getting better and better at developing exactly according to our natural charging habits.
But for those of you who want to maximize the life of the phone, the above tips can still be good to know, even if many of them are difficult to follow in real life. Also keep in mind that the life of a battery does not magically get much better even if you follow every single tip here and on Internet otherwise.
Android Authority (Maximize Battery Life)
Battery University (How to Prolong Lithium Based Batteries)
How do you charge your phone? Do you do as I do and many times go against the tips in the text? Share your thoughts in the comments below!