Ask LH: Can Overcharging Damage My Phone?

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Ask LH: Can Overcharging Damage My Phone?

Dear Lifehacker, I have a question regarding charging my iPhone 5 (or any other technological device for that matter). Does leaving a phone to charge all night ruin its battery life? Is ‘overcharging’ an already charged device bad for it? Thanks, Charged Up

Charging picture from Shutterstock

Dear CU,

Unlike the nickel-based batteries of old, the lithium-ion batteries found in smartphones and tablets do not suffer from the lazy battery effect. This means you’re free to charge the battery at any point during each cycle without affecting the amount of charge it holds. Likewise, you can continue to leave it plugged in after it has reached 100 percent.

That said, it’s still not a great idea to keep your gadgets charging for prolonged periods while unattended — while rare, lithium batteries have been known to overheat which has the potential to cause everything from dead phones to explosions. You can read a bunch more about the best ways to charge your gadgets here.

Cheers
Lifehacker

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Comments

  • In most cases the batteries contain a circuit in modern examples that prevents overcharging – which is still entirely possible with lithium batteries as a technology.

    this is also the major cause for many years that cheap third party replacement batteries would explode or otherwise degrade faster than ordinary, but I believe there are consumer protection laws against such practices now thankfully.

    • Ogre – This applies only to LiFePO4 batteries – which are not used at all, ever, in mobile devices.

      LiPo batteries that are in iPhones and the like prefer a gentle charge, kept between 20% and 80% SOC. Too low hurts it. Too high hurts it. The protection circuit will stop it from going too high or low, but the circuit can fail causing issues.

      The WORST thing you can do to a LiPo battery is run it dead and leave it there. Recharge your dead phone ASAP for a long and happy life.

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