The smartphone might feel like a mysterious piece of technology, even though it is an item we carry about with us almost often. And nowhere is this more evident than with the erratic battery, which will run out of juice after a few years of use and lose 20 percent of its charge faster than you can turn off Bluetooth.
We've created a wide range of battery myths to compensate for these shortcomings. We're constantly seeking for ways to squeeze a little bit more performance out of our overworked batteries, even if the solution doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Examples of these methods include turning off your phone to give the battery a little break and avoiding keeping it charged overnight.
We asked a battery expert to weigh in on some of the most common falsehoods, explain the physics underlying the rumors, and perhaps even give us some wise counsel on prolonging the life of our cellphones in an effort to help separate fact from fiction.
Once Your Battery Reaches 100% it can Hold a Charge
Your smartphone's battery has more energy than the percentage shown indicates, but using that energy would drastically shorten the battery's lifespan. The key to this issue is a careful trade-off that manufacturers make. The amount of times a battery can be charged and discharged without internal damage decreases when the available charge increases. Batteries manufacturers set limits on the amount of juice that batteries can discharge in order to make them last for hundreds or thousands of charge cycles.
You must be somewhat knowledgeable about battery operation to comprehend why. Graphite and lithium cobalt oxide make up the two inner layers of the majority of lithium-ion batteries, which are found in electric cars, laptops, and smartphones. Lithium ions transitioning from the graphite layer to the lithium cobalt oxide layer release energy. All you're doing when you charge a battery is moving those lithium ions back into the graphite from the layer of lithium cobalt oxide.
Here's where the issue with battery life and charge cycles arises. If the lithium ions are removed from the lithium cobalt oxide layer in excess, the layer's structure will be disrupted. "If you remove all that lithium, the material's atomic structure actually falls apart," explains Kent Griffith, an assistant professor at UC San Diego who specializes in energy storage.
Therefore, even though a battery can be charged past 100%, doing so requires extracting additional of those vital lithium ions. Griffith compares it to "pulling all of the supports out of the floor of a building." It is possible to extract the lithium ions, but restoring them would be difficult if you damage the internal structure.
Your Phone will Charge more Quickly if it is in Airplane Mode
Putting your phone in airplane mode is a popular trick to expedite the charging process when you're pressed for time. All radio frequencies are switched off when a phone is in airplane mode, which means that in addition to losing all cellular data, some phones will also lose their Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections. The battery ought to charge more quickly in theory since your phone isn't working as hard, right? Technically speaking, that is accurate, but the actual speed difference is not that great.
Using airplane mode reduced the charging time by only four minutes, according to a 2014 CNET test. Perhaps it's not worth it to be unable to tweet while you wait.
Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Running in the Background Significantly Reduce Battery Life
The energy your phone expends attempting to locate and connect to Wi-Fi or data networks is one of the main factors reducing battery life, aside from the screen. Your device is most likely straining to connect to a mobile network if you have ever noticed your battery dying on a train. It's generally preferable to connect to something stable, such as the Wi-Fi on the train, according to Griffith. You can also easily prolong the life of your phone's battery by lowering the brightness of the screen and the duration of its sleep mode.
Utilizing an Unauthorized Charger Harms Your Phone
Your phone's battery life may suffer as a result of the fact that not all phone chargers are made equal. While some off-brand chargers may not have such strict safety settings, chargers do have various controls that limit the amount of current delivered and stop the phone from charging when the battery is full.
Furthermore, excessive current delivery to a battery may result in the removal of an excessive number of lithium ions, which would cause the same kind of degradation you previously read about. Although not all off-brand chargers will be as awful as this one, you're still probably better off sticking with an official model, according to Griffith.
The Battery of Your Phone will be Harmed if You Charge it Via Your Laptop or Computer
According to Griffith, it's probably best for batteries to charge a little more slowly. This brings up the lithium ions once more. Do you see a pattern emerging? Lithium ions and the structures that hold them are subjected to less strain when a battery is charged more slowly, which also reduces the possibility of damage to the battery. Because of this, gadget manufacturers impose limits to prevent overcharging.
Powering off a device occasionally helps preserve battery life:
This one is also a myth, albeit a reasonably well-founded one. The preferred rechargeable battery prior to the widespread use of lithium-ion batteries was the nickel metal hydride battery. Without completely draining and then recharging the battery, it was impossible to obtain an accurate reading of the charge level in those batteries. You wouldn't be able to locate yourself if they were only partially charged. Thus, to stay on course, you would need to completely deplete," says Griffith.
In lithium-ion batteries, that’s no longer the case. Modern batteries are capable of reading their state no matter their level of charge, and when your device isn’t in use the strain on the battery is almost the same as if it was off altogether, so you wouldn’t be giving the battery much of a break if you turned it off anyway.
Batteries perform worse when they’re cold:
In actuality, the reverse is true. According to Griffith, "keeping your battery cool and using it in cool temperatures is much better for battery life." It is far more likely that high temperatures will shorten the lifespan of your battery. "You want to avoid having a hot battery. It should not be left in the sun or in your car, nor should it overheat while charging.
However, what makes batteries detest heat so much? The explanation is related to the liquid electrolytes that prevent the graphite and lithium cobalt oxide layers from coming into contact by filling in the spaces between them ( do you remember them? ). The lithium ions pass through this on their way back and forth between..
Here’s the truth behind the biggest (and dumbest) battery myths these liquid electrolytes begin to degrade at high temperatures, which shortens the battery's lifespan to a few hundred charge cycles. For electric vehicle batteries, which frequently spend the majority of the day outside in direct sunlight, this is a serious problem. In order to prevent heat-related degradation, manufacturers must install battery-management systems in their vehicles. On the other hand, you should be fine with your smartphone as long as you typically keep it at room temperature.
Your phone may operate a little slower in colder weather because those lithium ions move more slowly. If it's extremely cold outside, the battery may not be able to power components as effectively. However, the change is usually very slight and has no connection to long-term battery damage.
A device with low battery life may also occasionally turn off when it gets cold because the drop in temperature causes the device's power to decrease, fooling it into believing the battery is dead. No damage is done, but the electronics become confused, according to Griffith.