5 Myths About Smartphone Batteries Debunked

For a gadget that barely ever leaves our hands, a smartphone can sometimes feel like an esoteric piece of wizardry. As a result of that, we’ve cooked up all kinds of battery myths that aren’t really true.

Whether it’s apprehension over leaving your phone hooked up for an overnight charge or turning the phone off to give the battery a little break, we’re in a perpetual quest to utilize ways wherein we can get more juice out of our smartphone batteries. However, some of those ways don’t actually make much sense. To assist you in sorting out the science from the folklore, I have debunked 5 common myths surrounding mobile phone batteries.

Myth 1: Leaving the Mobile Phone Plugged in Overnight for Charging Will Overcharge the Phone

This is one of the most common pieces of advice we come across, but it’s not 100% correct. It’s a bit more complicated, as leaving your battery plugged in overnight certainly isn’t hazardous, but it might damage your battery life a bit.

Charging_OnePlus_3_smartphone

Mobile phone charging.(Photo Credit : Santeri Viinamäki/Wikimedia Commons)

‘Overcharging’ associated with long bouts of mobile charging is often an exaggeration. The reality is that if you continue to keep your mobile phone on a charger for a while after it reaches the 100% battery level, it will keep intermittently passing on the current when there is a small drop in the battery, rather than just recklessly passing on the current to the mobile phone at all times.

This myth has some legitimate origins, so it’s not surprising that this notion is widespread. In the days of yore, batteries made of nickel-cadmium or nickel-metal hydride would overheat if they were left charging for too long after reaching a 100% charge. This not only damaged the battery longevity, but also hampered overall performance of the device in use.

However, modern smartphones come with lithium-ion batteries that are much better than older nickel-based batteries. With rapid innovation in the field of consumer electronics in recent years, modern batteries are much smarter when it comes to managing power. They gradually reduce the amount of current as the phone fills up. However, I don’t mean to say that modern batteries are foolproof; even their longevity is affected upon continually charging a battery after it attains a full charge mark.

Myth 2: You Should Let Your Battery Completely Discharge

Weird as this may sound, batteries experience the highest strain on two occasions—when they are fully charged and when they completely out of juice. Theoretically, the real sweet spot for a battery is 50%, because at the halfway mark of the battery, half of its moveable lithium ions are in the lithium cobalt oxide layer, while the other half are in the graphite layer. This equilibrium puts minimal strain on the battery, which in turn helps in extending the number of charge cycles that the battery can withstand before degrading. To learn more about how a battery works, click here.

In order to ensure a long and healthy battery life for your phone, try to keep your battery charging and discharging activity between 20 to 80 percent. This way you’re likely to prevent the lithium ions from cramming into either layer—a situation that causes the layer to enlarge on account of physical strain.

I DON'T ALWAYS HAVE LOW BATTERY meme

Myth 3: Always Use the Official Charger

Blame the marketing people for this. Whenever you buy a brand-new phone from the market, odds are high that the salesperson will exhort you to use only the original charger for the phone. Even most of the user manuals these days prescribe only the use of the original charger or advise you to buy a new charger from the official store of the company.

mobile charger

(Photo Credits : Pexel)

It’s obvious that they want you to buy their products, duh! However, this is not advised for the health of your mobile phone, but for their profits! Most third-party chargers from reputable brands are just fine. There are some exceptions—for instance, in the case of USB-C cables, as some unofficial chargers might not allow fast charging, which the mobile supports. For fast charging to take place, many mobiles need to have hardware with proprietary fast charging standards, which are usually found only in the official manufacturer’s charger.

Myth 4: Batteries Perform Badly in Cold Weather

Actually, the opposite is true. Using your battery in cooler temperatures is much better for battery life than lackadaisically exposing it to high temperatures. The cardinal rule for battery longevity is that you should avoid allowing your batteries to overheat. This becomes more important when the battery is being charged.

As you operate/charge the phone, batteries naturally heat up. The reason for this is because the liquid electrolytes that fill the gaps between the lithium cobalt oxide and graphite layers start to break down at higher temperatures. This is a major issue with present-day electric vehicle batteries, which usually spend most of their day sitting out in bright sunlight. However, for your smartphone, as long as you usually keep it at room temperature without direct exposure to outdoor sunshine, you’re doing alright.

Myth 5: Install a Battery Saver App to Save Battery

This is an undeniably gormless myth that many people still believe to be true! Proponents of battery savers and app killers are like anti-vaxxers of the mobile world—instead of helping, they only make things worse.

INSTALLS A NEW BATTERY SAVER APP meme

When the modern-day mobile operating systems like Android were new, it made some sense to have an app killer or a battery saver installed on your phone. However, over the years, the mobile OS—especially Android—has become a lot smarter and can optimally manage its resources, making the role of external app killers and battery savers redundant. Most of these apps marketed as battery savers often suck up more resources than they actually save, leading to even more unwanted strain on the battery!

References:

  1. NCBI NLM
  2. IEEE
The short URL of the present article is: http://sciabc.us/gYcd5
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About the Author:

Hussain Kanchwala is an Electronic Engineer from University of Mumbai. He is a tech aficionado who loves to explicate on wide range of subjects from applied and interdisciplinary sciences like Engineering, Technology, FinTech, Pharmacy, Psychology and Economics.

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