If your smartphone’s battery isn’t lasting as long as it used to, it could be because you haven’t taken very good care of it. Here’s the science of how smartphone batteries work, and how you can keep them healthy for longer. This video from the American Chemical Society’s Reactions YouTube channel explains the chemical reactions happening in your phone’s lithium ion battery, and shares some easy ways to make it hold a charge longer. It all comes down to these three tips:
- Avoid high heat: Heat speeds up the chemical reactions taking place in your phone’s battery, and that means you’ll have to charge it a lot more often. Also, extreme heat can cause thermal runaway and boil the liquids in your phones battery — which can damage it forever or make it explode.
- Don’t let the battery die: Despite what you may have been told, you don’t have to let your lithium ion battery completely die before charging it (unlike nickel batteries). Lithium ion batteries never “forget” their capacity, but the maximum capacity does degrade over time. And you actually speed up your battery’s degradation by letting it lose its charge. If your phone is about to die, just turn it off yourself to avoid the damage.
- Always store it at 50 per cent: If you’re going to be away from your phone for a while — like going on holiday, or trying out a different phone — turn it off when the battery is half charged, and store it in a cool place. This will prevent capacity degradation and permanent damage to the battery or phone.
No matter what, smartphone batteries will lose some capacity as you use them. In fact, it’s estimated to be anywhere from four per cent to 20 per cent capacity loss every year. But with these tips you should be able to keep your battery in ship-shape until you decide to upgrade.