Battery charging: myths vs facts

1 min read
22 Mar 2018
1 min read
472 words
Speak To The Geek
Our resident geek clears the misconceptions regarding cell phone batteries

Is it true that we shouldn’t keep our smartphones plugged in overnight? I have been plugging my phone overnight almost every day. My battery seems to be working just fine for now. But I worry it will wear out one day. Can you tell me what is the right thing to do? — Om Rai

Today’s smartphones use rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, which are different from and charge faster than traditional batteries. The lithium-ion batteries are expected to maintain at least 80 per cent of their prescribed capacity for around 400 to 500 full-charge cycles. This means they work effectively for 12 to 18 months.

But should you be charging your smartphone up to 100 per cent every time you charge your phone? Can you let it charge overnight? Will this affect your battery’s life? This has been a major debate among top researchers, and it comes down to two key arguments.

Researchers from Princeton University say that users can plug their cellphones in, as much as they want, whenever they feel the need. Even if the battery reaches full charge, users don’t have to worry about it getting overcharged. The phone will automatically stop taking further charge once its fully loaded, even if it is connected overnight.

As for opponents of this theory, energy scientists from the Illinois-based laboratory Argonne suggest that you not charge the battery to 100 per cent; in fact, they suggest it’s best to not let the charge exceed 90 per cent, because the more the battery charges the higher the chances of degradation of electrolytes (which is a crucial component of a battery). Furthermore, they suggest that users charge their smartphones between 30 to 80 per cent to achieve maximum efficiency on a longer run. How often you charge your phone does not matter, as long as you remain between those numbers.
But which option should you go for? At the end of the day, your batteries perform according to your usage habit. If you are the sort who upgrade their phone every year, you don’t have to worry about charging your phone all the way. But if you fall in the category that plans to use a phone for some time, then avoiding charging your phone above 90 percent is a good option.

Here are a few handy tips for you:

  • Use the energy efficiency mode once you get below 30 per cent.
  • Always use certified original chargers; however, using third-party chargers will not be of harm as long as they are manufactured by reputed companies.
  • To give less stress to the battery and processor, some top smartphone manufacturers suggest that you not close apps ‘at all’ on their recent flagships.