Your smartphone can do a whole lot—but not if the battery’s exhausted. Unfortunately, as your phone gets older, it might take longer to charge.
Let’s talk about how mobile device charging works and the different charging methods available for current-generation phones. We’ll also see why older phones might require more time to charge and what you can do about it.
Understanding Rechargeable Batteries
Every mobile phone has a battery. For the most part, each battery delivers power the same way.
A cell battery contains two electrodes (one positive and one negative) and an electrolyte. Through usage, ions form in the electrodes, which drives a flow of electronics to your battery’s negative outer terminal, thereby giving off a charge.
In non-rechargeable batteries, these chemical reactions only occur one time. With rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, like the ones found in phones, the chemical reactions are “reversible.” Thus, recharging allows the cell to absorb power.
In broad terms, there are two ways to charge your smartphones: wired and wirelessly. You’ll find pros and cons for both.
Pros and Cons of Wired Charging
Like other consumer electronics, smartphones have always shipped with cables for charging purposes. These cables haven’t changed that much until recently.
For almost a decade, non-Apple devices have shipped with USB cables that have supported the USB 3.0 architecture. By contrast, since 2012, Apple devices have used Lightning, a proprietary computer bus and power connector.
“Fast Charging” technology has increased wired charging speeds considerably in recent years. This type of technology typically requires a newer USB Type-C connection. Fast charging specifications differ by manufacturer and device.
Most claim a certain percentage of the battery becomes recharged in 30 minutes. For example, using fast charge, you can recharge your iPhone up to 50 percent battery in 30 minutes.
Pros of Wired Charging
The most significant reason to stick with wired charging technology, at least for now, is efficiency. And don’t discount its familiarity.
Cons of Wired Charging
Not surprisingly, cables are the biggest reason to ditch wired charging technology. Cables are annoying and can become worn over time. Besides, they’re ugly to look at.
Pros and Cons of Wireless Charging
This brings us to an increasingly popular form of phone charging: wirelessly. There are a lot of benefits to using wireless charging, although it does come with some drawbacks.
Pros of Wireless Charging
With wireless charging, you no longer have to worry about finding a cable. Instead, you just set your phone on a stationary charging pad. This means less wear and tear on your device and fewer costs, at least in the long term. Charging cables can be expensive, after all.
Convenience is another reason consumers are embracing wireless charging. Many of the charging pads on the market today allow you to charge multiple devices at the same time.
Cons of Wireless Charging
In 2018, wireless charging is still slower and less efficient than wired charging. However, because most mobile phones can now go an entire day between charges, this discrepancy isn’t as significant. Just place your phone on the charger before going to bed, and you’re good to go.
Wireless chargers also tend to generate some wasted heat, which could lead to your phone overheating. To avoid injury, make sure you only buy certified wireless charging bases. Wireless charging products are also more expensive than wired solutions.
5 Reasons Why Your Phone Is Charging Slowly
Now that you know how battery charging works, it’s time to look at what might be slowing down your older phone while charging. Most likely, it’s because of one of the following reasons:
1. Bad Accessories
The most straightforward reason your cell phone might be charging slower than before might have nothing to do with the phone itself. Instead, you could have a bad cord or adapter, or weak power source.
USB cables get put through a lot, especially in homes with multiple users and devices. These cables are often dropped, bent, kept in locations where temperatures can vary significantly, and even stepped on. Therefore, before anything else, change the cable and see if that eliminates the problem.
You should also switch out the adapter and see if that makes a difference. In your household, do you continue to use the same adapter even after buying a new phone? You should probably use the newer one.
Many like to charge their mobile devices using a port on their computer. This isn’t always an ideal solution, depending on your computer’s age and whether other ports on your machine are in use at the same time.
Everything else being equal, you should use a direct source to charge your phone. In other words: use a wall charger whenever possible.
2. Port Issues
Your cable isn’t the only element that could have problems from daily charging. Your phone’s charging port could also suffer some damage. Look at the port for corrosion or an obstruction. While this probably isn’t the reason it’s taking more time to charge your device, you should at least rule it out.
To find the latter, use a flashlight and magnification to look around inside your phone’s port. Try to remove any object (lint, dust, etc.) that doesn’t belong, being very careful not to cause damage to the port’s components.
My advice? Use a plastic toothpick to remove any objects. Using a small, soft brush inside the port is also recommended.
3. Background Apps
Phones that take forever to charge can also have a hard time keeping a charge when in use. A rogue app, or background apps in general, could be the reason for this.
Both Android and iOS now have tools for you to find out what apps are running in the background. For Android-based devices, check out the battery usage menu located at Settings > Battery. On your iPhone, select Battery in the Settings app to see which apps are using the most battery.
When you think you’ve located the nasty app, delete it and see if your battery life and charging speed improves.
4. Aging Battery
If you’ve exhausted the other tips on this list and the battery still seems to take forever to charge, you might think about having the battery replaced.
At the end of 2017, Apple was criticized for how the company handled batteries in aging iPhones. It did so for a reason, though.
The little industry secret is that lithium-ion batteries don’t last forever and can only be recharged a limited number of times. Therefore, it could be that the battery itself is what’s causing the slow recharging. Take your phone to an authorized dealer for more information on replacing the battery in your device.
5. The Problem Is You
Are you the type of person that has to use your smartphone even when it’s charging? Perhaps you’re the reason the device takes so long to recharge.
Apps such as Facebook are notorious for sapping battery life on phones. Nowhere is this more apparent than when you’re attempting to recharge your device while also leaving posts on your social network.
Instead of doing this, take a break. Make a rule that you won’t use your phone while it’s charging.
When in Doubt, Get It Fixed
It shouldn’t take a long time to recharge the battery on your phone. If you’ve noticed it slowing down significantly, there’s probably an issue that’s easy to resolve. If the tips found in this article haven’t helped, consider taking your device to the nearest authorized service center to have an expert take a look.