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How can you make your smartphone or tablet battery last longer?

Forget apps, we’re talking about good practice here: how you treat your phone, when and how often to charge it, and how these things differ across battery types.

With more and more devices being produced with unibody cases, there is a greater requirement to make batteries last longer 9 Proven, Tested Tips To Extend Your Android's Battery Life 9 Proven, Tested Tips To Extend Your Android's Battery Life No matter how long your phone's battery life lasts, there are ways that you can definitely make it last longer. Let's take a look at some different ways. Read More . After all, there’s no longer an option to replace the battery!

You Can Use Apps: But They Need Your Help

We’ve shown you many software-based ways of preserving battery life 5 Ways to Improve Battery Life on Android KitKat 5 Ways to Improve Battery Life on Android KitKat Got a new KitKat phone with not-so-great battery life? Check out these tips for squeezing every last bit out of juice out of it. Read More , and which apps and services you need to turn off 7 Free Google Services That Cost You Battery Life & Privacy [Android] 7 Free Google Services That Cost You Battery Life & Privacy [Android] A nameless writer once remarked, “If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product.” While probably in reference to broadcast television, the saying also applies to Google’s recent introduction of several poorly implemented... Read More . The thing is, you shouldn’t leave it all to the apps. How you treat your phone throughout the day and when charging or discharging will help to prolong battery life both in the short-term and the long-term.

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Different batteries have different rules, however. Currently there are three types of battery in use: Lithium-Ion, Lithium-Polymer and Nickel-Cadmium.

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For your smartphone, you probably have a Li-ion battery, but you can check the battery type in your device by removing the back cover — or if your device is unibody, check the documentation or Wikipedia. Check the appropriate section below for how to keep your Android device battery healthy.

How Do You Charge Your New Smartphone Or Tablet?

With a new device fresh out of the box, the first thing you should do is charge it up. You’re basically following the manufacturer’s instructions here, and letting it discharge completely straightaway isn’t a good idea.

However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t let it discharge at all. You will need to have an idea of how long your battery lasts, so letting the charge run down is something you should do. If you’re concerned about this and don’t want to discharge completely (note this shouldn’t damage a Li-ion cell), wait until the low battery warning shows and then recharge.

This isn’t something you should do from the start, however. You need to get your phone setup and ready for use beforehand, so leave it until a couple of days have passed, after all app updates are installed, your preferred wireless connections are made, etc.

Once you’re using your device regularly, make a note of when you charged it, and start using it normally. When the battery is low, you will have an idea of how long it will last, and can then modify your usage based on this timing.

Li-ion Batteries

The most commonly used batteries at present, Li-ion batteries can actually perform better at higher temperatures. The problem with this is that there is a cost: the battery will endure unnecessary stress, reducing the charging capacity.

We’ll have a look at some methods to prolong a Li-ion battery in a moment; before then, take note that super-fast charging and forced discharging (achieved using dedicated apps) is discouraged, as these actions will only shorten the life of your battery.

A finite number of charges is available with any Li-ion battery, which is the recharge cycle or battery cycle you might have seen in documentation. When this limit is reached, you can expect battery life to begin deteriorating. Therefore, charging should become something you do only when the time is right, rather than as a habitual daily/nightly/when the battery hits zero activity.

muo-android-battery-health-cells

There are many who keep their battery “topped up”, but the problem is that the battery needs to go through some degree of charging and discharging to stay healthy. A solution is to keep the battery charge somewhere between 50%-80%, which should guarantee optimum performance. Keeping a close watch on the battery level will help here.

Discharging the battery before recharging is a myth of Li-ion that has its roots in NiCd cells (see below for more on this). Your Li-ion device does not have a “memory” and it never needs to be fully discharged.

LiPo Batteries

Lithium-ion Polymer cells are a variation of Lithium-ion, and managing the health of these batteries is the same as for standard Li-ion. Their main advantage is that they can be formed to the shape of the device, rather than having to be placed in a hard rectangular case like Li-ion battery. This makes them better for unibody devices with non-removable batteries.

Many popular phones today use LiPo batteries including the iPhone 6 and HTC One, but all the of the tips that work for Li-ion batteries apply to LiPo batteries as well.

Nickel-Cadmium Myths Debunked

If you’re the owner of a much, much older device then it probably has a Nickel-Cadmium battery.

Many myths and misunderstandings Why RAM Boosters And Task Killers Are Bad For Your Android Why RAM Boosters And Task Killers Are Bad For Your Android At first glance, RAM boosters and task killers sound incredibly useful, but a closer look shows that they could actually be harming your phone instead. Read More have occurred over the years with regard to battery care, and there are a few that persist from the days when Nickel-Cadmium use was widespread. If you’ve ever heard of the battery “memory effect”, zapping or short-circuiting batteries to revive them, then these are concepts — often misunderstood — that originate with NiCd cells.

So what is the truth here?

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NiCd batteries are limited to 500 recharges. That means the battery can fail before you’ve had it for two years, and that’s one of the main reasons why smartphones have moved away from this technology.

The so-called “memory effect” is really a limit of the cadmium material in the batteries, whereby the substance forms into crystals when unused. If you don’t fully discharge your device every once in a while, it will eventually be able to hold less of a charge. “Zapping” the battery was widely believed to be a method of fixing the memory effect problem with a fast, high current charge. However, neither this nor short-circuiting could really fix the “memory effect” problem.

NiCd batteries should not be fully discharged, as this will damage them. When the low battery message appears, start charging! Also remember that when not in use, 1% of the battery will be used each day. Leaving the device until the battery runs out will also damage the battery.

Chargers And Storage

It’s often easy to have one charger for different devices, especially when travelling. However, using the same charger for your Kindle as for your smartphone can lead to problems. This is because different charges can output at different amperages — you can check these on your charger in the fine print somewhere on it. It should read something like this: Output DC5V = 1A. Matching both the voltage and the amperage will help you know if they’re similar chargers, though voltages are generally the same for modern devices.

For the best results when charging, use the charger and cable that shipped with your device. It might mean slightly bulkier luggage but it will help to prolong the life of the cell. After all, why risk damaging an expensive smartphone or tablet with a cheap charger with no label and no guarantee the correct charge is being delivered?

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Are you planning on not using your smartphone or tablet for a while? The best option here is to leave it at around 50% charge for a Li-ion battery. Storage should be in a location at the usual room temperature (more on this below).

Also note that damage to your phone’s battery caused by pressure, piercing or the more usual drops can cause the battery to leak, reducing its life and damaging your phone’s circuits.

Heat Is Bad: Keep Your Phone Cool

Along with the individual battery types, we’ve one final tip for you: keep your phone cool!

Devices should get no warmer than 140 degrees Fahrenheit (around 60 degrees Celsius). At this stage, various things might happen such as messages to remove your battery or a forced shutdown.

If you’re getting a hot phone from gaming, the solution, obviously, is to stop playing. This will usually be purely due to the processor working overtime, and shouldn’t affect the battery too much, but if one is being overworked, so is the other. Limit gaming to short bursts rather than game console-style marathons.

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However, removing your device from any cases can also help. Environmental temperature can be a factor, so if the weather is hot or you’re situated in a very warm building, consider how you’re going to keep the device cool.

Heat really is bad How Undervolting Decreases Heat & Increases Battery Life How Undervolting Decreases Heat & Increases Battery Life Would you believe that many computers and smartphones can run cooler and consume less power? A trick exists, called undervolting, which can increase your CPU's efficiency with few drawbacks. If performed right, devices generally produce... Read More . Just as it can cause severe problems for computer users Two Ways to Cool Down Your Defective Overheating Intel CPU Two Ways to Cool Down Your Defective Overheating Intel CPU Looking to purchase a Haswell or Ivy Bridge Intel CPU? A secret may change your mind. According to bloggers, Intel recently got caught using thermal paste on its CPUs and lying about it – the... Read More , a hot battery will have a shorter lifespan. Worse still, if conditions get too hot, battery electrolytes have been known to ignite (rare, but possible).

On the flipside, keeping phones too cool is a bad idea if you’re hoping to gain performance benefits, although this should have no impact on overall battery health. For the best results, strive to keep your batteries at something approaching a sensible room temperature.

What Works For You?

Battery care tips are often discussed among phone users, especially those with heavier usage than normal.

Have you found any of the tips we’ve given you work, or do you have your own methods for prolonging the life and overall health of your Android battery?

Use the comments to let us know.

Image Credits: Batteries, Charger, Man in snow, NiCd and Charging phone all via Shutterstock.

  1. Rajdeep
    November 28, 2016 at 1:34 am

    This is what I do. Charge your phone when it dips to 40% and disconnect charger when it hits 80%. Instal " Battery Alert 40-80 Pro ". It will give you notification when you should charge or remove charger. I never believed in the idea of deep discharge and a fully charged battery.This is also recommended by Battery University. Try it.

    • Christian Cawley
      November 28, 2016 at 10:11 am

      Hi Rajdeep - thanks for sharing, that's a useful tip!

      • Rajdeep
        November 28, 2016 at 2:21 pm

        You're welcome Christian. And have a nice day !!

  2. Bassel
    September 26, 2016 at 4:26 pm

    I am a Materials engineer and really got interested in what you wrote about batteries. I wanted to learn more about this topic. Is it possible to suggest some academic articles and journals regarding this topic?

  3. Bassel
    September 26, 2016 at 4:22 pm

    I am a Materials engineer and really got interested in what you wrote about batteries. I wanted to learn more about this topic. Is it possible to suggest some academic articles and journals regarding the same topic?

  4. Gayan
    May 20, 2016 at 5:08 am

    Hello sir,
    This is a nice article and still i have some questions.
    1. I have lipo 2500mAh battery and I'm charging it when level is 10% to 100%. it is wrong i think.

    2. Usually I'm charging my phone when I'm sleeping like 7 hours. Sometimes i switch off the phone and connect to the charger. Is it okay?

    3. Sometimes I'm playing some games while charging and phone heats close to 50 C. Is it bad while charging?

    4. If i wants go somewhere i plug out the charger and take the phone at different capacity levels. Like 60%-90% battery capacity levels. It means i can't carge it to a one capacity level all the time when I'm charging. Is it okay?
    Thankyou.

  5. bushra
    April 25, 2016 at 9:14 am

    Do we need to remove batteries from your smart phone when you are going to turn offf your phone for an extended period of time?

    • Christian Cawley
      April 28, 2016 at 9:35 am

      You shouldn't need to as the cell should be built to a high standard that leakage isn't likely within the warranty period.

      However, it has been known.

  6. zeeshan
    March 22, 2016 at 1:51 pm

    My Phone has 400 mAh battery and the phone is new just bought it packed from a retailer.... My problem is 4000 mAh doesn't last much like 12 hours or 15 hours if i normally use it. the screen size is 5 inch and most of the card Like WiFi and Bluetooth are mostly off and GPS , mobile are always off... I tried DU battery saver i would show 32 hours but i wont work that much (I Already never trusted those app timers) So any help? BTW the articles great

    • zeeshan
      March 22, 2016 at 1:52 pm

      correction Its 4000 mAh

      • Christian Cawley
        March 23, 2016 at 12:41 pm

        What make and model is the phone?

  7. Aseer
    March 13, 2016 at 11:41 am

    Sir,I bought a Asus Zenfone 2 and what is the time I need to charge it for the first time?Please Help Me....By Telling..

    • Christian Cawley
      March 13, 2016 at 5:13 pm

      Up to you! Probably 100% or so to get a full use out of it. The tips in this guide are for long term use - if you're playing for the first time, give it a full charge!

  8. Gavlaa
    January 22, 2016 at 11:54 pm

    Is it harmful to use device whilst on charge?

    • Arghya
      April 1, 2016 at 4:32 am

      No it isn't harmful . But if you use your device while charging , it will definitely slow down the charging rate . Best advise will be to use apps that don't consume much battery OR put it to airplane mode to do stuff offline . it is because ( 1 ) Using data requires more power to be stable and ( 2 ) Wi-Fi networks actually fetch internet continously . This dramatically slows charging rate . For maximum charge ,Turn off your system ( SHUT DOWN )

  9. 3ntrophy
    December 12, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    So as far as I know if you have a charger that delivers only .7 A your phone will only charge a bit slower, but there shouldn't be any damage to the battery involved. On the other hand, if you have a charger that can possibly deliver 2 A, your phone will only take what it needs, that usually being 1 A, therefore the battery shouldn't get damaged. Am I wrong ?

  10. dan
    November 17, 2015 at 4:40 am

    I got my Samsung note 5 today and out of the box it had 4% battery charge. Salesmen seemed surprised, at 750$ should I be worried. The battery is built in. Thanks

  11. anoop 2255
    July 10, 2015 at 4:35 am

    i have 2300 mah li-ion battery in my android lollipop,and i used to charge it when it goes to 20 % or 15% is it better way ? please explain me how to maintain my phones battery ( Lenovo Vibe X2 )

    • Christian Cawley
      July 15, 2015 at 8:44 am

      I already did that in the extensive article above.

    • MarLa Salagantin
      October 16, 2015 at 8:18 am

      I also made this same (:

  12. Jan
    April 23, 2015 at 2:25 pm

    Hi,

    I charge my battery when its at about 80-95% is that a bad thing because I noticed when I turn my tablet on it was at 97% and it charged 3% in 50 seconds which my battery would take 2 minutes to charge 3%.

    Please tell me if I have a problem with my battery and if so how could I solve it.

    I have a Lithium-ion battery.

    • Christian Cawley
      April 27, 2015 at 6:31 pm

      Sounds as though your battery is slowly deteriorating, because you're charging to to max. This would explain why the 97%-100% is charging so quickly.

      For a longer-lasting battery, keep your charge point lower, and don't go beyond 90% max charge.

      • MarLa Salagantin
        October 16, 2015 at 8:30 am

        so its okay to charge start from 15 or 20 percent not beyond to 90 percent ?

  13. marco
    March 18, 2015 at 10:51 am

    where is the sense to have a battery and then to keep going to charge it when it is around 50% (or either 30%)?
    i will have a battery at the "half of the power" ........ specially if i cannot be Always in front of a plug charing it
    it is a nonsense, can be good to have it healty but then better to buy a new one after a while

  14. Pj
    March 14, 2015 at 9:55 am

    And when i charge it wont go to 100% it only stays to 37% or 32%

    • Christian Cawley
      March 14, 2015 at 6:49 pm

      Put simply, your battery is past its best. If you are using a device with a removable battery your best option is to purchase a manufacturer-approved replacement.

  15. Pj
    March 14, 2015 at 9:54 am

    Pls help me when i charge my battery goes dwn like 10%......9%......8%.... pls help me

    • anonymous
      March 14, 2015 at 8:19 pm

      you may have a defective battery. I'm no hardwear pro but just saying a possibility. (it can also be a bad charger).

  16. asik
    March 12, 2015 at 7:44 pm

    if i forgot to unplugged charger after complete charging. what is the problem. i am using lava iris fuel 50 handset...

  17. Elizabeth
    March 8, 2015 at 10:33 pm

    I did not get that info above it says nothing about tablets just so u know these 3 texts go together my tablet is just a 10.1 android tablet and my camera is a Kodak easyshare touch 5x wide 14 Megapixels it says on the side on the screen it says kodak easyshare touch M577

    Can I still use the charger for my camera on my android tablet will it do anything to it like I said it says my Kodak easyshare touch camera M577 rated 5v=1A and my Android tablet is DC-5v and that is all it says on my android tablet by the charger hole

    • Christian Cawley
      March 12, 2015 at 6:17 pm

      You probably can use that charger, but it's not going to give you the best results. Only the manufacturer-approved charger is likely to do that.

  18. Elizabeth
    March 8, 2015 at 10:07 pm

    And one other thing sense nobody can give me the right answer for my question can I charge my regular android tablet with a Kodak easyshare touch USB camera charger they r the same voltages this is what it says on my camera rated: 5v=1A and my tablet says DC-5v what does that mean and will it fry it I charged it yesterday and it charged 100% and today I charged it and it charged 99% could it be that I didn't let I charge long enough

  19. Elizabeth
    March 8, 2015 at 9:59 pm

    My battery tells me 20% u need 2 put it on the charger does that mean mine is a liion battery and I need 2 charge it when it says 20% u need 2 put it on charge

  20. Fagballs
    March 5, 2015 at 3:34 am

    This guys full of crap....yes you should completely discharge your li-ion battery and then fully charge it and always follow that. True li ion doesn't have memory issues like nicad but deep cycles still give the best longevity and endurance.

    • Gio
      March 6, 2015 at 1:50 am

      Dead wrong. Letting a battery go down to 0% puts a lot of stress on the battery and should be avoided. Around 20% is time to plug in the charger.

  21. Tasin Ul Islam
    February 20, 2015 at 4:34 am

    Thnx 4 such gd tips...

  22. Andrew
    December 31, 2014 at 12:10 am

    Of course we're dealing with chargers who's output voltage is matched for the battery type; in most cases it will be 5V.

  23. Andrew
    December 30, 2014 at 11:56 pm

    Agreed.
    Charging voltage can never be on par with or drop below that of the battery. It will always be higher than that of the battery, and therefore charge it, no matter how slowly.
    This is the case even if the charger is way smaller than suggested, once it has a limiting current circuit, it will not burn out; it will just take a longer time to charge than one might expect with the stock charger.

  24. Fik of borg
    November 5, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    "...using the same charger for your Kindle as for your smartphone can lead to problems. This is because different charges can output at different amperages"
    I believe the important parameter is only the voltage, the current need only to be enough.
    A 2 Amp charger can provide UP TO 2 amperes of current, but can't force 2 amperes of current into the battery, it's up to the charging circuitry on the phone to use the amount of current the battery need / can use and the charger only needs to be able to provide that amount.
    If the charger is rated LESS than the stock charger, then its voltage would drop below 5V when the battery circuit tries to use the current it wants.
    Excessive voltage... that's another matter, that can overload and overheat the charging circuitry and then the battery.

  25. Hildy J
    November 5, 2014 at 3:17 am

    One tip when charging, unplug it when it's charged. Keeping your phone plugged in is bad for battery life. A corollary to this is don't charge overnight if you can avoid it. I have Tasker set up to tell me when the battery is charged so I can unplug.

    • kaki
      December 6, 2014 at 6:38 am

      Thanks! That's exactly what I was wanting to know. ..

    • joe o halloran
      February 28, 2015 at 2:00 pm

      can you turn off phone and charge overnight? Or is it the same bad for it?

    • asik
      March 12, 2015 at 7:48 pm

      i do this... switch off the phone and charged overnight.... have any problem...?? is this harmful for battery...??

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