Lithium batteries generally power today’s smartphones and tablets. In your lifetime, you’ve probably owned a half-dozen or more smartphones. Every device features a battery with a specific rated capacity. Did you know the actual capacity can vary from battery to battery? Typically, the average smartphone owner doesn’t understand how their smartphone’s battery works or what care should be taken. There’s a lot to learn about these batteries, and you can take various steps to maximize a battery’s lifespan.
A Quick Bit Of History On Batteries In Smartphones
Early smartphones utilized nickel-cadmium batteries to keep devices running. Nickel-cadmium batteries suffered from a memory effect as well as other shortcomings. Awhile back, smartphone manufacturers started to use lithium-ion batteries instead. Lithium-ion batteries are smaller, more efficient, and they last quite some time before needing to be replaced. Arguments could be made for either type of battery, but lithium-based batteries long ago established themselves as the battery of choice for smartphones.
Manufacturers Build Smartphone’s With A Specific Lithium-Ion Battery Capacity
When a manufacturer builds a smartphone, the device features a lithium-ion battery with a rated capacity. This is the official rating for the battery in milliampere hours (mAh). As previously mentioned, this number is the official rating rather than the exact rating. Small differences in manufactured batteries means your smartphone’s battery capacity could come slightly above or slightly below that mark. You don’t have to worry about getting a battery that’s more than a few mAh off the official rating, though.
Manufacturers Also Like To Seal Batteries With No Option For Removal
In years past, smartphone makers created devices with removable batteries. You’d pop off the back cover of the phone, and you’d have immediate access to the battery. This was necessary to hard reset some devices, and the situation made it possible to replace a dying smartphone battery. Lithium-ion batteries don’t last forever, and they often don’t last more than a few years. As smartphones became thinner and lighter, manufacturers moved toward making batteries non-removable.
Most of today’s smartphones hide the battery behind proprietary screws and plenty of other obstacles. Some manufacturers might cite safety as a reason for embedding batteries with no option for removal. However, others will tell you that doing so prevents you from replacing a battery yourself. You’ll instead have to send the device to the manufacturer and pay a hefty fee for a replacement battery. Millions of consumers lament past days where accessing the battery took less than five seconds.
How To Properly Care For Your Smartphone’s Battery
Proper battery care and maintenance is surrounding by dozens of myths. You’ll find a lot of misinformation related to smartphone batteries for one reason or another. For instance, many people take battery maintenance tips for nickel-cadmium batteries and apply them to lithium-ion batteries. All of the same rules don’t apply to both types of batteries, though. Therefore, you’ll want to follow this guide on how to properly maintain your smartphone’s battery throughout the course of ownership.
The average lithium-ion battery holds up over 1,000 full charge and discharge cycles. Whether you charge your battery 1% or 100%, every charge counts toward a partial cycle. You’ll start to notice that battery life begins to suffer after 500 or so full cycles. A smartphone might only last an hour or two per charge by the time 1,000 cycles come and go. For heavy smartphone users, a battery might be done for after a year. Lighter users might get ample use out of the battery for three or more years instead.
What To Do WIth A Brand New Smartphone
When you get a new smartphone, you’ll want to charge the device to 100% before doing anything else. This particular tidbit is a recommendation rather than a mandatory action. Long-term harm from turning on the phone without charging it is highly unlikely, Still, it’s nice to start ownership of a new phone with a fully charged battery. You don’t have to charge the device for 12 to 24 hours, like some manufacturers recommend. That guideline pertains to nickel-cadmium batteries rather than lithium-ion.
What Are Your Charging Habits Like With Your Smartphone?
Charging habits have a lasting impact on the health of your phone’s battery. Some people believe you should keep devices charged to 100% as often as possible. On the other hand, some think you need to let the phone discharge to 0% on a regular basis. Both of these steps will leave you with a dead battery sooner rather than later. Lithium-ion batteries are healthy and happy while in a charged range from 20% to 80%. Of course, your battery won’t become unusable or die for good outside of this range.
Most of us like to plug in our smartphones while going to bed and then taking it off the charger in the morning. Unfortunately, this leads to dozens of “micro-charges” throughout the night, and your battery receives unnecessary wear and tear from so much charging. You’ll want to keep your phone charged between 20% and 80% to avoid putting too many unnecessary charging cycles on the device. Your phone doesn’t need to be fully charged every day, and better charging habits keep the battery healthy.
Temperature Can Kill A Battery In Multiple Ways
While using a smartphone, you should avoid extremely cold or extremely hot temperatures. A smartphone heats up during use, but it’s designed to withstand normal operating temperatures. Leaving your phone out in the sun, however, could heat up the battery and damage it. Extreme heat could cause the battery to swell up and catch fire, or even explode. Similarly, extreme cold puts unnecessary wear on the battery. Don’t expose your device to temperature extremes, or the battery could meet a premature end.
What Is The Future Of Smartphone Batteries?
Scientists across the globe continue to develop new battery technologies. None of them have proven viable for the consumer market (smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc.) yet. At this point, developments in lithium-ion batteries have reached somewhat of a climax. Scientists can only stuff so much energy into each battery, and nobody wants to walk around with a brick of a smartphone in their pocket. Promising batteries involving graphene and other materials may materialize in the next decade.
Until that happens, we’re stuck with the tried and true lithium-ion battery. You should take the time to properly care for and maintain your smartphone’s battery. Chances are you can’t replace the battery by popping out the old one and putting in a new one. Plenty of consumers simply replace their smartphone as the battery starts to hold less and less of a charge. With that in mind, proper care can prolong the life of a given lithium-ion battery by a noticeable amount of time.