The battery is the most important component in your smartphone because if the battery isn’t working, nothing else can. With the right sort of care and attention, you can make sure your battery stays charged for longer—and lasts longer overall, as well.
There is good news, which is the lithium-ion batteries inside today’s phones are more reliable, longer-lasting, and safer—well, mostly—than ever before. That said, we’ve got some tips for keeping them healthy and happy.
Top It Off
The chemical reactions inside lithium-ion batteries are more comfortable with shorter charges and discharges, rather than being drained all the way down and then topped all the way up.
You’re not going to seriously damage your phone if you wait for it to die every time before plugging it in again, but you do run the risk of shortening the battery’s life. Keeping your phone between 50 per cent and 80 per cent seems to be the sweet spot. And whenever possible, try not to let it dip below 20 per cent.
On a related note, you’re fine to leave your phone fully charged and connected to power overnight, or in the office during the day. Smartphones and chargers today can recognize when they’ve hit 100 per cent, and accordingly, reduce the flow of electricity to a trickle.
Check the Temp
The lithium-ion batteries inside your phone really don’t like extreme temperatures, as you might have found on the ski slopes or the beach when your phone has simply shut off in response to the chill or the heat.
It’s perhaps not reasonable to expect you to carry your phone around in a temperature-controlled vacuum chamber, but you can make sure it’s well insulated in the cold, and not exposed to temperatures that are too high. Even simple precautions, like not leaving it in a warm car, can help.
These temperature extremes won’t necessarily kill your phone’s battery for good, but they can hasten the natural degradation that all batteries suffer over time, meaning you’ll need to replace it—or your phone—sooner than you otherwise would.
Slow and Steady
Wireless charging is very convenient. The various fast-charging technologies out there are very handy when you’re pushed for time. But for battery longevity, consider using a standard charger, or charging via a laptop USB port, when you can.
It’s not that wireless charging or fast charging are inherently bad or that they’re going to send your phone up in flames. But lithium-ion batteries definitely prefer a slow and steady input. Consider using the slow and steady approach whenever it’s available.
If you do rely on wireless charging or fast charging, make sure you’re using the official charger that came with your phone, or an officially approved third-party accessory. These chargers will be configured to keep your phone battery as healthy as possible for as long as possible.
Meet in the Middle
If you’re not going to be using your phone for a while, storing it with half a charge is preferable to leaving it fully charged or fully drained. Even if the idea of stashing your phone away for a while seems preposterous, some people do keep spares around just in case. The advice applies to tablets as well, which you may use less frequently.
Remember what we said earlier about temperatures as well; you want phones to be stored at room temperature if at all possible. Bear in mind that certain less well-engineered phone cases might have the knock-on effect of increasing the warmth your device feels, especially while charging.
Again, these are best practices for maximizing battery longevity. You’re not going to come back to a broken phone just because it was left in a drawer on a full charge.
Stay Up to Date
Managing battery life is a delicate operation, and it’s something that iOS and Android are gradually getting better at. You shouldn’t really need another reason to keep the software on your phone up to date, but if you do, this is it.
Thanks to lots of proactive nudging by manufacturers, it’s getting increasingly difficult to keep your phone out of date for long. Which is great, not just battery life but the security of your device, compatibility with other apps and hardware, and so much more. In fact, you should go ahead and turn on auto-updates everywhere you can.
If you’ve been putting updates off, your phone’s battery will be grateful for having them installed, improving efficiency and battery management along the way. iOS now includes a battery health monitor—under Battery in Settings—while Android users can download a tool like AccuBattery. A note on Apple’s Battery Health setting: If you swap in a battery outside of official Genius Bar channels, it will tell you that your battery needs “service.” It doesn’t. That’s just Apple’s way of encouraging people not to risk faulty third-party service—which right to repair advocates have a thing or two to say about.
Make It Last
Every battery has a finite life in terms of cycles; it’s just the nature of the chemistry inside it. That means the fewer times you go from a full charge to an empty charge, the better, so maybe consider making a single charge last rather than carrying a portable charger around with you everywhere.
The usual advice applies here: Reduce screen brightness, use headphones instead of the built-in speakers, and put your phone in aeroplane mode for as long as you can stand it. That will turn off connections to other devices and stop apps from constantly pinging for updates. And that advice goes double when you’re in an area with poor signal strength. Your phone works harder to try and stay connected to a weaker signal and drains the battery faster as a result.