As we were writing our last post debunking that myth about draining your battery completely before charging it (TLDR version: don’t do it, it’s bad), it occurred to us that a round-up of some other advice on maximizing your new phone’s battery life might come in handy for our readers. So, we rolled our chair down the hall to speak with the charging experts in our engineering department for the skinny. Read on for our list of simple best practices for maximizing new phone battery life and enjoy at least a few extra months of high performance down the line!
100%: Great on a test, not so great on a battery readout
As we mentioned in passing last month, just because a battery can hold 100% of its charging capacity doesn’t mean it necessarily should. Our engineers suggest only going from 0% all the way to 100% once a month tops—for the most part you’re going to want to stay in that 20% to 80% sweet spot.
Why? Because li-ion batteries are much more comfortable with small regular top-ups than frequent full charge cycles. As Battery University notes, batteries become stressed when kept at full charge as this increases the voltage and therefore heat within the cell; smaller, regular cycling is considered less stressful. Get in the habit of grabbing a little juice (20 to 30% at a time) whenever you stop for a couple of minutes near a charging station and your phone will be a lot happier.
While you were sleeping…
“While You Were Sleeping” is not only the title of a slightly strange Sandra Bullock romantic comedy where she falls in love with a guy in a coma, but also the time when you’ve probably done the most damage to your battery.
Many of us are in the habit of leaving our phones plugged in overnight so that we can wake up to a nice fully-charged device. As noted above, however, li-ions don’t very much like hanging around at 100%. Try to sympathize: it’s probably like the bloated feeling you get after a huge meal, only your phone’s stuck with it for eight hours until you bother to unplug it. Not great for maximizing the battery life of a new phone!
Also, be wary of overheating while charging overnight—if you use a case for your phone, consider removing it. As your phone heats up, the case can act as an insulator.
(We’ve actually got a whole post on the topic of charging while sleeping which is a must read!)
Is fast charging safe?
Fast charging, like that offered by Qualcomm’s Quick Charge, Samsung’s Adaptive Fast Charging and USB-C, provides incredible convenience. It’s hard to resist a fully-charged phone in minutes rather than, like, tens of minutes. (We are perhaps a little spoiled by modern technology.)
Still, if you’re not crunched for time, we’d recommend taking the scenic route. Newer phones and high-quality chargers are very good communicators with regard to delivering an appropriate voltage level, but there remains some debate about how good it is for your battery in the long run. Fast-charging wasn’t initially designed for 0 to 100% charging but rather for quick top-ups. Over longer charge cycles, it has the potential to overheat your battery. In battery terms, heat = damage to long-term sustainability.
Whither the weather?
Don’t set your phone on fire, and don’t experiment with texting at zero degrees kelvin. Between those extremes, you’ll want to avoid letting your phone get either too hot or too cold if you want to maximize new phone battery life. Just like most of us, they prefer room temperature.
What about using the phone while it’s charging?
It depends on how resource-intensive what you’re doing is. If you’re gaming or watching videos while charging, you could run into trouble with parasitic load. Parasitic load happens when the battery is being drained during charging. (As far as we know that name is still available for a sweet psych rock band to take on.) It confuses the normal charging cycle of the battery, and can cause mini-cycles that deteriorate parts of the battery more quickly than the rest of the cell.
When charge is at 100%, parasitic load can also cause undue heat build-up in the battery. Ideally, you should turn your phone off while charging, but realistically if you stick to basic texting and web browsing you’ll be doing your phone a lot of favors.
Maximize new phone battery life when not using it
Your new phone will probably be seeing a lot of use, but if you happen to be doing a tech cleanse or something, our experts recommend making sure your battery is at least half-charged if it’s going to be dormant for a long stretch. When you leave your battery completely dry it can potentially lose it’s ability to hold any charge at all—a nasty surprise for a new device.