Smartphones have become essential items for almost everyone across the globe. However, when it comes to charging it properly, there may be things that you don’t know. While most people think that charging their phones is just as simple as plugging it in and forgetting about it. Overcharging can actually cause damage over time. Let’s take a closer look at how phone batteries work.
Smartphones use lithium-ion batteries which work by moving ions to and from electrodes. These ions move in one direction when charging and the other when discharging. Think of it like a glass of water. It fills and empties as you drink it and you “recharge” it by refilling it. However, unlike water, when the ions move back and forth, this puts stress on the electrodes that they are moving to. As they become more worn down, you can begin to experience a reduction in battery life.
So, what does this mean when it comes to charging your phone multiple times throughout the day? Basically, this wear down of the electrodes happens whether you’re charging from one or 90 percent. However, topping up your battery frequently can also have an additional effect. Essentially, when you top up your battery you can begin to get buildup on the battery, which is known as the solid electrolytic interface. This is a film that consists of lithium atoms that grow as the battery cycles. If this film grows too much it can become thick enough to obstruct the battery from efficiently working.
By only charging your phone when necessary, you can help prevent this buildup and the degradation of the electrodes which allow your battery to hold a charge.
Prolonging Your Battery Life
With all that science out of the way, you’re probably wondering how you can best extend the life of your smartphone battery. The best way to do this is by both not completely charging it and not letting it completely lose charge. The optimal percentages should be between 80 percent and 20 percent. Some smartphones even have optimized battery settings that help keep phones below 80 percent until you absolutely need them topped up. By using these smart energy settings, you can help prolong the life of your battery.
Similarly, you should do your best to keep your battery away from heat. Heat can wreak havoc on batteries and reduce their lifespan. While the effects may not be immediate, try to avoid leaving your phone in your car during the summer or in a place with excessive heat.
Is Battery Degradation Even Noticeable?
While science tells us that these factors do impact battery life, are they actually noticeable to most phone users? Apple has stated that users can charge their batteries whenever they want, and Google provides the same recommendation. Samsung is the outlier, stating that batteries should be kept at over 50 percent with care taken not to keep your phone plugged in after a full charge is reached. As for whether the battery degradation will be noticeable to you, either way, the answer depends on how often you upgrade your phone.
Although two-year phone contracts are a rarity anymore, most phone installment plans still take two years to pay off. This means that many people will hang on to the same phone for at least two years. Apple’s iPhone upgrade program is slightly different, with customers being able to upgrade yearly to a new phone. But even with programs like this, trends show that many people are choosing to use their current phones for longer, as opposed to upgrading as soon as possible. Three years is now the standard ownership for most smartphones, with some Apple customers keeping theirs for up to four. If you fall in this bracket and don’t follow proper charging practices, it’s likely that you’ll experience some battery problems towards the end of your phone’s years.
This will also depend on how much you use your phone as well, seeing as the more you use it the more charges it will need, resulting in increased degradation.
Ultimately, the case of whether or not charging your battery frequently comes down to necessity and convenience. While taking care of your battery can save it a bit of time at the end of its life, if you depend on your phone daily for calls, texts, or entertainment, charging frequently may simply be a worthy trade-off.