Have We All Been Charging Our Smartphones Wrong?

November 09, 2017

Have We All Been Charging Our Smartphones Wrong?

Plugging your phone in before you go to bed may be something you do without thinking about it, but in fact, this might not be the best way to charge your phone. Battery science suggests that our battery-charging habits may actually be damaging our smartphones. Here is what the science says about charging your phone.

1. Short Charging Bursts Are Best for Batteries 

Many people believe that the best way to care for a battery is to let it drain completely and then charge it to full capacity. In fact, the opposite is true. The lithium-ion batteries in smartphones actually experience stress when you charge them to full capacity. This is because pushing charge into an almost-full battery requires a very high voltage, which strains the battery. Rather than letting your battery run down and then charging fully, plug it in for short bursts throughout the day while you are working. The ideal is to charge and drain the battery within a 10 percent range, but you don't have to stick strictly to this limit.

2. Charging Overnight Is a Nightmare

Charging your phone overnight is very convenient, but it's not the best approach if you want your smartphone battery to last. Phone chargers fully charge a battery in far less time than the seven or eight hours most people sleep. Once the battery is fully charged, the charger continues to push trickle charges into it to prevent it from running down. This keeps the battery in a high-stress state. Protect your battery by unplugging it as soon as it becomes fully charged -- or better yet, when it comes within 10 percent of being fully charged.

3. Cool Phones Are Happy Phones

Excessive heat can damage smartphone batteries. Modern smartphones are designed to dissipate heat to keep the battery safe. However, when you put the phone in a case, the heat can't escape as the designers intended. Phones often get hot when you charge them and when you run apps that make heavy demands on the processor. Keep your phone cool by taking it out of the case when you use it or charge it. You can put the case back on to protect the phone when you slip it into your bag or pocket. Another good tip is to cover the phone or keep it inside a bag when the sun is shining.

4. Protect Your Battery Life

Do you obsessively charge your phone to 100 percent before you head out because you worry the battery won't last the day? Running out of charge when there are no outlets nearby is frustrating, but there are things you can do to reduce the risk of this happening. Try disabling features on your phone that you are not using, such as Bluetooth and GPS. Turn down the brightness of the screen to preserve the battery. If you need to extend the battery as long as possible, try putting your phone into airplane mode. You won't be able to receive calls or messages in this mode, but it can help to ensure your battery's charge isn't draining away while you attend meetings, work out in the gym, or chat with your friends. When you need to use your phone, simply switch off airplane mode and enjoy not having to keep one eye on the low battery indicator.