If you’re like most of us, you charge your phone on a very repetitive schedule.
The majority of us charge our mobile phones while we sleep so that we can plan to wake up with a fully charged device ready to go for the day. There’s certainly a happy feeling associated with seeing your battery at 100%. With most phones, a full charge will last several hours. You might need to juice it up a bit more in the afternoon, depending on how heavily you use your device. And when night falls, time for that full charge again.
But new information reveals this may not be the best way to charge your phone at all. In fact, it could be detrimental to the phone’s battery and its overall longevity.
To safely and efficiently charge your mobile phone (and do so in a way that will support the life of your battery), here are the modern ‘rules’ to follow.
1. You Don’t Need to Get to 100%--and it’s Better Not To
Logically, a full charge seems like the optimal point for a battery, right? Wrong. When your phone is at 100%, it’s using the full capacity of the battery. By continually operating at its full spectrum, your battery is being stressed, and possibly shortening its lifespan.
Instead, experts now suggest keeping your phone charged around 65-75%.
Some of the new rules about phone batteries may have to do with the type of batteries currently on the market. Nearly all modern mobile phone batteries use lithium-ion batteries. While these are powerful batteries---and engineers have improved their lifespan---they still have a finite amount of charging energy within them. Over time, the cycle of battery charging, discharging, and recharging again, will cause a buildup of atoms. This is a result of chemical reactions occurring at the batteries’ electrodes, the anode and cathode. The thin buildup of atomic residue leads to decreased battery life, and eventually, a dead battery.
So why not charge the battery to 100%? Simply because each charging cycle is taxing the battery. A full cycle would involve charging the device from 0 to 100%. However, if you charge your device up to say 50%, you’re effectively tripling or quadrupling the number of recharges the battery can handle. Given that most batteries last 2-3 years, you’d be expanding the battery from 300-500 total cycles to 1,200 to 1,500 cycles. This is an approximation, but it certainly provides evidence for avoiding that charge up to 100%.
2. Short Charges are Better Than Long Ones.
Since we now know that we don’t need to supercharge our phones up to 100%, it makes sense that we wouldn’t need to leave them plugged into the charger overnight. Lithium-ion batteries are so widely used because they are capable of recharging much more quickly than traditional batteries. It usually takes just a couple of hours for your phone to reach 80% or more, so an overnight charge would be unnecessary.
It may not be just unnecessary, it could cause problems for your battery further down the line.
Your phone automatically stops ‘juicing up’ once it’s reached the 100% mark, so you’re in no danger of over-charging, but your battery will continue to ‘top-up’ the charge ever so slightly. It works to keep you right at that 100%, creating a trickle effect that, over time, can raise your phone’s ambient temperature and shorten its lifespan. One way to remedy this is to always remove your phone from its case while charging. This will help to keep the phone’s temperature down.
More and more, experts are suggesting that short charging bursts are the ideal way to make the most of your mobile phone’s battery power. In this way, you can keep an eye on your battery, aiming to let it stay within the 65-75% power range, and taking it off charge when it’s reached that range. This might be tough for those who love to see a fully-charged bar on-screen, but this is definitely sufficient battery life to keep you going for a few solid hours.
3. Try Not to Let Your Phone Fall ‘into the Red’
For a long time, there was a common precept that said you needed to charge your battery until it was full and then use the device until the battery died completely. This was, it was believed, the favoured way of charging your phone properly. Today, this is untrue. This was an idea that applied to older mobile phone batteries, nickel-metal hydride or NiMH and it was called memory effect. In 2018, this no longer applies to our modern-day mobile phones, and is far from ideal.
Instead, whenever possible, avoid allowing your phone to come close to a dead battery. Once your phone has less than 20% charge, it will display a red battery symbol. This is an icon that strikes fear into the hearts of most smartphone users, but if you’re following the best practices for phone charging, you should never have to see that frightful low percentage!
Entering the red zone is what is known as a deep discharge, and this can cause your battery’s lifespan to diminish, according to Battery University, a free online resource with a great deal of battery-related information.
It’s not a bad idea to occasionally let your phone battery run all the way down to 0, however. This can be a useful method of calibrating the battery. Many smartphone users find that letting their battery fully die and then recharging can help fix issues such as incorrect battery percentage displays.
Finding What Works for You - The Optimal Way to Charge Your Phone
You might be thinking, this sounds like a complicated system for keeping your phone charged, and you’d be right. Few of us are able to keep a super-close eye on our mobile phone batteries, and it’s not necessarily convenient to charge your device multiple times per day. There may be optimal ways for charging your phone, but ultimately, you need to do what works for your lifestyle.
One piece of good news is that the 65-75% charge figure is not cut and dry. Other sources say that 45-75% is excellent, or even 20-80%. We can draw the conclusion that staying under 80% and above 20% (out of the red zone) is within the realm of what we should aim for.
As for charging your phone overnight, it may be impractical to stop doing this, particularly if you’re using your device right up ‘til bedtime. While it may not be great for the long-term, the potential damage from overnight charging won’t be the end of the world for your phone.
The best way to charge your phone is to discover the schedule or habits that work best for you and the way you live. If you want to lengthen your phone’s battery power for as long as possible, stick to the rules and give your phone frequent bursts of charge throughout the day. It’s a wise idea to invest in a variety of different cables or chargers so that you’re always ready to juice up your device, from the car to the office.
In addition to keeping your phone at a healthy level of charge, here are a few more ideas for getting the most of your battery.
Tips for Maximising Battery Life
Use official chargers
You can find cheap, unofficial phone chargers just about everywhere. But does that mean you should use them? Probably not. These chargers are often made with low-quality materials and don’t meet regulations. They may fail to charge your device effectively and may even be counterproductive, causing problems with your phone’s battery. It’s always best to use the official charger that came with your device, or another one from its manufacturer.
Don’t store your phone at 0% battery life
If you won’t be using your device for a while, don’t just let it fully die and then toss it in a drawer. A battery stored at 0% for a period of time will lose some of its recharging power and its overall lifespan. Whenever your phone dies, the best practice is to get it charged again as quickly as possible. If you do need to let your phone or a spare battery lie dormant for whatever reason, the optimal plan is to charge your battery to around 40-50% before putting it away for a storage season.
Turn down your phone’s brightness
Surprisingly, one of the easiest things you can do to lengthen the battery life of your phone is to turn down the brightness display on your device. Find a good level of dimness that illuminates your phone (but doesn’t strain your eyes) and you’ll be saving a remarkable amount of battery life.
Eliminate background battery drain
There are other phone elements that can be adjusted to enhance battery life. These are often things that work ‘in the background’ so we don’t even notice or think about them. But when they’re shut off, they help preserve the life of our charge. Elements to shut off include Bluetooth, vibrate mode, and background apps. (Force-closing your apps doesn’t always help with battery life, however, as this can actually demand more energy from your phone.) You can also try using your phone’s power-saving mode, which is designed to minimise battery usage.
While eventually, we may have solid state batteries offering lightning-fast charging and days of battery power, until then, it’s best to make the most of the batteries we’ve got. We hope these tips will help!