How to Extend the Life of your Phone Battery
There are a lot of myths out there about how to extend the life of your phone’s battery. In order to truly take care of your device and prolong its life, use these tips and learn to tell fact from fiction.
How long does your battery last?
The lifetime of a phone battery is approximately 2-3 years, but that’s not to say that your phone or device won’t last longer or shorter. A number of variables impact the life of your device’s battery.
Your device’s battery life is determined by “charge cycles” not time. A charge cycle is determined by your device using a net 100% of its charge.
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Most obviously, this is when you fully charge the device to 100% and use it until it dies at 0%. However, a charge cycle also includes times when your phone is at 75% and you use it to 25% (a total of 50% charge) then charge it back to 100% and use it to 50% (another 50%).
A charge cycle is based on the total charge like a tank of gas. You can only fill the car to half a tank two times, but you still use a full tank of gas.
Regular usage of the device will go through the number of charge cycles in about 2-3 years. If you use your phone more than others, you may see a decline in charge length after a year to year and a half. If you use your phone less than other, you may see the batter life survive for three or more years.
However, manufacturers recommend that you upgrade your phone sometime between 2-3 years or if you notice a decline in the battery life of your device.
Should I let my phone die to 0% before charging?
If the battery is based on charge cycles, then it doesn’t matter if the phone dies to 0% right?
Lithium-ion batteries degrade faster when forced to use their complete charge. Instead, charge your phone more often. Partial use of the batter will help the battery stay healthy. If you need a number to live by, try to keep the battery life above 30% if possible. That slight cushion could help your device live longer.
Fast charging after the battery drops so low can harm it too. Use fast charging until around 80% then switch to a regular charge to avoid straining the battery.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, what about ways to make your phone survive longer? Are there other ways to preserve the battery life of your device other than using it less?
Is Leaving Your Device Plugged in Overnight Bad?
Leaving your phone plugged in overnight will NOT overload the battery and cause it to die faster or whatever you may have heard.
There is a built-in safety inside the device (including laptops, tablets, smartphones, etc.) that tells the phone to stop accepting a new charge when it’s full.
But… That’s doesn’t mean it’s harmless.
It only takes an hour to two hours to charge fully. After that, the phone stops charging until it falls to 99%. Then it starts charging again until 100%. Then it stops. Then it starts. See what’s happening? It’s called “trickling charge.”
All of that stopping and starting can actually wear on your battery. It contributes to the charge cycle life of your battery. Who’s to say that it is more or less than leaving your phone unplugged the entire night, but it can cause other problems.
Long Charging can Cause Overheating
The worry with charging your phone too long really boils down to overheating. The constant trickling charge that we described above can cause your phone to overheat, which can actually harm you, your device, and your furniture.
You may have seen the photos of mattresses or pillows that are charred from a charging phone. These photos are evidence of the trickling charge overheating a phone. Much like using a heavy blanket while lying in the hot sun, the phone overheats. With no way to dissipate that heat, the pillow or mattress catches on fire instead.
Prevent overheating phones with the tips below:
- Avoid using knock-off cables that may have bad connections or overheat easier.
- Avoid placing the device under a pillow, blanket, or book that may cause it to overheat faster.
- Take the device out of the case to charge.
- Place the device in a dish or on something metal to dissipate heat.
- Unplug the phone if you wake up at some point in the night or use a smart home outlet to schedule the charging to stop in the night.
Should I freeze my phone battery in the summer?
We’ve actually been asked this question before "My phone battery lasts longer in the winter. Should I freeze it in the summer?" Especially being close the beaches like we are, we’ve heard plenty of false recommendations that you should place your phone in a cooler in the summer to protect the batter.
There is some truth to this statement though. Leaving your phone out in the summer is a bad idea as the heat will harm your phone. However, BOTH extreme heat AND extreme cold can permanently harm your battery. Learn more about protecting your device from the summer heat.
This applies to leaving the phone too close to the car heater or A/C vents. Be mindful of where you place your car mounts. Cranking the heat in the winter may cause the phone to overheat and harm your device. Likewise, keep the phone off the dash of the car in the summer as the banking sun will not do it any good.
NOTE: This applies to both a charging phone and a charged phone. Never let the phone overheat while charging, but also be incredibly mindful of the heat of the device while it’s not charging.
How do you make your phone battery last longer?
If you’re looking for advice on keeping your phone charged throughout a long day, then we have advice for that too.
For days when you’ll be away from your charger for a while, here’s a few tricks to keep your phone charged longer.
Turn off or remove apps that drain the most power.
To preserve my battery, I keep Waze turned off unless I need it AND I have a way to charge my device while I use the app.
To check which apps are using your battery the most:
- On iPhone, select Settings > Battery. Here, you’ll find a breakdown of which apps used how much charge in the last 24 hours or 7 days.
- On Android, select Settings > Battery and see apps and other components like screen brightness that have used your battery.
Use these recommendations to adjust your habits on days you need the phone battery to last longer. Things like turning the screen brightness down, avoid using certain apps and locking your phone while using maps will help your battery.
Turn off background apps and permissions.
Apps running in the background can drain the battery as they continue to run in the background.
Disable background app refresh on iPhone to help your phone last longer by navigating to Settings > General > Background App Refresh. See apps running in the background on Android by navigating to Settings > Apps.
Turn off other features
Other features like Bluetooth, location sharing, Wi-Fi, and AirDrop can also drain your battery. Consider disabling Bluetooth when you aren’t using it or buying products that use Low Energy Bluetooth or BLE.
Likewise, only turn Wi-Fi and AirDrop on when you need it. Connecting to public Wi-Fi is dangerous for you and your device, so only connect at home or other private secured Wi-Fi.
Disable location settings on an app by app basis on iPhone by going to Settings > Privacy > Location Services. On Android, go to Settings > Location. We recommend leaving location settings on for weather apps, map apps, and some other location-based apps. Turn it off for games, messaging apps, and apps that don’t need to know your location to function. Consider switching the permissions to “While Using” whenever possible.
Need a Goober?
If you’re concerned about your phone or device’s battery life, contact our Tech Goobers for help. They can let you know if a battery replacement would work or if a new device is your best option. Sometimes, a simple fix can extend the life and battery life of your device. Give us a call at 302-645-7177 for help or contact us online.
For more information on phone battery life, check out Charging Your Phone Overnight: Battery Myths Debunked by Eric Griffith.
For more information on saving your battery life with iPhone, visit How to Squeeze the Most Out of your iPhone’s Battery by Shawn Knight.
For more information on saving your battery life with Android, read these 11 Tips to Boost Your Android Phone's Battery Life by Jamie Lendino.