Doesn’t the battery on your smartphone, tablet or laptop last long? If the device is more than a year old, short battery life may be a sign of battery aging. You can choose to replace the battery or follow certain tips to maximize battery life. But there’s no reason you should start doing this only when you’re in trouble—for best results, implement these practices from day one.
Battery life is a tricky topic and everyone has different advice, so we’ve checked out various battery guides from experts who have done a lot of testing to back up their claims. We also looked at the recommendations manufacturers had to offer. Here’s what you need to know to extend your device’s battery health.
Before following the guide, it’s important to know some facts. Our smartphones, tablets and laptops use lithium-ion batteries. Over time, these batteries lose capacity. You can delay this process by taking the steps listed below, but you cannot prevent it completely. Batteries are designed to retain up to 80% of their capacity over a limited number of charge cycles. That number would be slightly higher with the larger, more expensive batteries typically found in tablets or laptops. For example, Apple claims that the iPhone can hold 80% of its capacity for 500 charge cycles, compared to 1,000 for the iPad and MacBook models. Exact numbers will vary by device, but it’s a fair benchmark.
We hear you asking, “What is a charge cycle?” A battery completes a charge cycle when you charge it to 100% and drain it to 0. If you charge it to 50% and then drain it completely, you’ve only done half a charge cycle. The reality is a little more complicated than that, but it’s a good general rule of thumb. This means you can’t avoid a charge cycle by returning the phone to 100% when it hits 90 – ten such charges will count as one charge cycle.
Extend battery life
You can’t change the laws of physics, but you can reduce the damage it takes every day during everyday use. You just need to know a few simple things like the temperature and charge of your phone. Here’s a checklist you should keep in mind to keep your battery healthy for as long as possible.
1. Note the temperature
Temperature has a big impact on your device’s battery. If you live in a place where the temperature is higher than 35 degrees Celsius or lower than 0 degrees Celsius, the battery capacity will decrease faster. Try to keep your phone or tablet out of direct sunlight, or expose it below freezing if possible. Extreme heat affects battery capacity much more than extreme cold, but both are detrimental. Battery University has an excellent guide on extending battery health, with a table (see image below) illustrating the effect of temperature on battery capacity.
2. Partial Discharge vs Complete Discharge
While you may have heard of letting a device fully discharge before plugging it into a charger, in general a partial discharge cycle is better than a full discharge cycle. Not all Li-Ion batteries experience these symptoms, but keeping the charge in the 40% to 80% range usually helps. This means charging the phone when it hits 40% and stopping charging when the battery hits 80%, but you’ll need to balance this and all other recommendations with your actual usage. So when you’re out and about and won’t be near a charger for a while, of course charge your device to 100% instead of messing with the numbers.
3. don’t leave it plugged in
Leaving your device plugged in at 100% is also detrimental to battery life. Battery University says overcharging is bad for the battery: “It is good to avoid full charging, and some manufacturers purposely set the charge threshold low to prolong battery life…Lithium-ion cannot absorb overcharging, and the charging current at full charge must cut off. Continuous trickle charging can lead to lithium metal plating, which can be a safety hazard.”
While this advice may be easier to follow on a smartphone (especially a tablet), it may not always be practical for a laptop. If you’re the type to leave your laptop plugged in all the time, it’s going to damage your battery in the long run. Best to make sure to discharge it to 40% every once in a while. On the other hand, discharging the laptop once the battery reaches 100% will drain the charge cycle faster, which isn’t ideal in the long run. The best option is practical. Discharge occasionally, but don’t be so religious that your laptop runs low when you’re out for a meeting and might need an extra charge.
4. Avoid Super Fast Chargers
Some devices can be charged faster with some ultra-fast chargers, but in the long run, it’s not good for the health of the device. Battery University gives sound advice on the topic: “An analogy can be drawn to pulling a large vehicle with an underpowered engine; too much stress and the engine won’t last.”
5. Do not use fake chargers
You can buy knockoff chargers for Rs on the road. 50 and use it to recharge your phone that you paid more than Rs. $50,000, but we recommend against it unless you’re willing to risk damaging the battery or worse, actual injury. Apple even has a third-party charger trade-in program to ensure customers are using original chargers.
5. medium and long term storage
If you won’t be using your device for a while, you should try to keep the battery at around 50% before turning it off. If you’re going on a long trip and want to store your phone, most manufacturers recommend that you keep your phone in a cool place (less than 32 degrees Celsius is recommended), ideally with the battery half full.
Apple’s battery guidelines mention that if you plan to store your device for longer than six months, you should charge it to 50% every six months. This is something you should do no matter what brand of equipment you’re using.
Unfortunately, there’s no getting around the fact that batteries have a finite lifespan after which they’re bound to degrade. Following these basic tips can help delay the inevitable.
For more tutorials, visit our how-to section.