Dear Lifehacker, The battery in my phone is dying. Should I buy a battery replacement, a phone case with an in-built battery or an external USB charger? Thanks, Discharged
Is your phone still under contract and/or warranty? If so, you need to chase up the manufacturer or telco for a replacement. If they find a fault with the battery, the issue will usually be rectified free of charge. (Here's an overview of your rights under Australia's consumer protection laws, should you need it.)
Failing that, the answer largely depends on what type of phone you have. These days, most smartphones have non-removable batteries which makes procuring a replacement far more difficult. While it's technically possible to crack open the chassis and do some DIY engineering, you need to know what you're doing. Subsequently, most people are stuck with external solutions.
A battery case is a good way to tease some extra life out of your phone but these can be unattractively bulky. If you care about your phone's width and style, your best bet is a portable USB battery pack which you can pull out and utilise when needed. You can find some good options in this guide.
Just be aware that the battery unit needs to be regularly charged via a wall outlet — a habit that's easy to fall out of. I've lost count of the amount of times I've pulled mine out of my bag only to discover it's completely dead. Tch.
If your phone does have a removable battery, getting an internal replacement is definitely the best option. While cheap third-party batteries might look tempting, we'd stick to replacements from your phone's manufacturer. Some no-name batteries on the market are notoriously unreliable and may even be dangerous to use. As the old adage goes, you usually get what you pay for.
You should also keep in mind that the fault might not be solely to do with the battery; in which case a replacement probably wont make much difference. If possible, borrow a compatible battery from a friend to see if there is any noticeable improvement to battery life before you go out and buy a replacement.
On a final note, making small adjustments to the way you use your phone could make a big difference to how long the battery lasts. Manually adjusting your phone's brightness to the lowest setting can net you a few extra hours of battery life, for example. Shutting down apps rather than keeping them running in the background has also been found to improve battery life.
If you want to learn more about what's eating into your battery, try installing a battery tracking app like Battery Sense.
The amount of juice left on your battery when you plug it in for a re-charge can also affect how long it lasts. According to the Battery University website, the smaller the depth of discharge, the longer the battery will last. In other words, try to "top up" your battery instead of waiting for it to go completely dead.
You can find additional tips on boosting battery life without springing for a replacement here. Good luck!
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