6 truths about life of your phone battery: Overcharging, overheating, fast charging

We asked battery experts what a quick charger does to our phone's battery over time and the way to increase your battery's life. Here's what we learned.



Whether you've got a replacement iPhone SE, Samsung Galaxy A51 or OnePlus 8, your phone's battery life is an increasingly important think about deciding if your device is well worth the money. As we expect more from our phones -- and need them to last longer -- the importance of an all-day charge has become a critical feature, alongside screen size and camera quality. The longevity of your device is additionally a key factor when brooding about which phone to shop for . 

The enduring emphasis on battery life is one reason why fast chargers are now so ubiquitous, a minimum of for high-end devices. The fastest, most power-delivering of all belong to premium phones just like the Galaxy S20 and iPhone 11. If the battery threatens to empty before the top of the day, quickly recharging it together with your lightning-fast quick charger is that the next neatest thing . With fast-charging especially, a 10-minute charge can make the difference between going into an austere power-saving mode and losing power completely before you get home. 

But now that fast charging is so readily available for phones, we've questions: Can a high-capacity charger damage your phone's battery within the short term? Can it degrade your phone's power-storing capability over time? And what causes unnecessary wear and tear on your phone's battery anyway?

To get the answers, we spoke with several battery researchers and engineers about the consequences of quick charging on your phone's battery life. Here's what we learned.

Your phone battery isn't changing anytime soon

All mobile phones -- and most personal electronics and electric vehicles -- use lithium-ion (li-ion) rechargeable batteries. it is a tough slog to make batteries that last longer, because battery technology hasn't changed in decades. Instead, much of the recent progress in battery life has come from power-saving features built into devices and from making the software that manages charging and discharging more efficiently, so you sip power instead of guzzle it. 

Unfortunately for mobile phones, the main target on extending battery life is usually on cars, satellites and your home's power grid , areas where industrial batteries got to function far beyond the 2 or three years we expect from our mobile devices.

Another force working against our phones is their battery size. Compared to an electrical automobile battery , a phone's power source is minute. for instance , the Tesla 3's rechargeable battery features a battery capacity over 4,000 times greater than the iPhone 11 Pro Max. 

The math gets a touch complex because phone batteries are measured in milliampere-hours, while electric vehicle batteries are measured in watt-hours. But it's possible to draw equivalents. as an example , the Pixel 4 features a 2,800-mAh battery (or 10.6 Wh), and therefore the iPhone 11 Pro Max reportedly comes with a 3,969-mAh battery (15.04 Wh). Meanwhile, the Chevy Volt uses an 18,400-Wh battery and a midrange Tesla Model 3 flaunts a 62,000-Wh battery.

That matters because the larger A battery is, the more battery-saving tricks there are to increase its life. for instance , as you charge A battery , the voltage rises, putting it under stress, especially during the last 20% of the charge. To avoid this stress, electric makers may charge new batteries just to 80%. due to that larger battery capacity, the electrical car still can still go a suitable distance, while avoiding the strain of upper voltages. this will double the entire lifetime of the car's battery.


Larger phone batteries can offer you an all-day run time from a charge, but typically only at the complete 100%. And while that lets the battery last for a suitable time between charges, it also puts the battery under more stress from the upper voltage required to top it off.

Short of a serious breakthrough in battery technology, improvements to our phone batteries will come from making the devices more energy-thrifty overall. (Here's a more detailed check out what's holding up the battery revolution.)

Fast-charging won't damage your battery

A conventional charger has an output of 5 to 10 watts. A faster charger can improve that by up to eight times. for instance , the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max accompany an 18-watt fast charger, the Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10 Plus have 25-watt chargers in their boxes. Samsung will sell you an extra-speedy 45-watt charger for $50.

Unless there's some technical flaw together with your battery or charger electronics, however, employing a fast charger won't do your phone's battery any long-term damage.

Here's why. Fast-charging batteries add two phases. the primary phase applies a blast of voltage to the empty or nearly empty battery. this provides you that blazing charge of from 50 to 70% within the first 10, 15 or half-hour . That's because during the primary phase of charging, batteries can absorb a charge quickly without major negative effects on their long-term health. 


For instance, Samsung promises its 45-watt charger can go from zero to a 70% charge in half an hour. Apple says the fast charger that comes with its iPhone 11 Pro can hit a 50% charge in half-hour .

You know how it seems to require as long to refill that last 20 or 30% of the battery because it does to charge the primary 70 or 80%? That last part is that the second charging phase, where phone-makers need to hamper and punctiliously manage the charging speed alternatively the charge process actually could damage the battery.

Arthur Shi, a tear-down engineer at the DIY repair site iFixit, suggests to imagine A battery as a sponge. once you first pour water onto a dry sponge, it absorbs liquid quickly. For A battery , this is often the fast-charging phase. 

As you still pour water onto the increasingly wet sponge at an equivalent rate, the liquid will bead abreast of the surface because it fights to soak into the saturated sponge. For A battery , this unabsorbed charge may result in shorts and other issues that would potentially damage the battery.

Damage is rare if everything's well-managed inside. A battery's management system closely monitors the 2 charge phases and drops the charging speed during the second phase to offer the battery time to soak up the charge and avoid issues, which is why it can take 10 minutes to urge those previous couple of percentage points. 

The case of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7's tragically exploding battery resulted from battery design flaws instead of from the phone software's battery management techniques.

You can't overcharge your phone battery

Overcharging wont to cause anxiety among phone owners. The fear was that keeping a phone constantly plugged in could charge A battery beyond its capacity, making the battery unstable, which could degrade overall battery life or build up an excessive amount of internal heat and cause the battery to burst or erupt . 

According to the experts we spoke with, however, A battery 's management system is meant to shut off the electrical charge once a battery reaches 100%, before it can overcharge. 

"Unless something goes wrong with the battery circuitry, you cannot overcharge a contemporary phone," said Venkat Srinivasan, A battery researcher at the Argonne National Laboratory and director of the Argonne Collaborative Center for Energy Storage Science. "They have protection inbuilt to precisely stop that from happening."


Remember that you simply can, however, put A battery under strain as you head to a 100% charge, as detailed above. (It's why electronic-vehicle makers stop the charge on new batteries around 80%.)

Apple takes an ingenious approach to the present problem within the iPhone's iOS 13 software that charges your iPhone battery to 100% without doing long-term damage. 

If you regularly keep your iPhone plugged in during the day or while you sleep, you'll activate an iOS 13 battery setting called Optimized Battery Charging which will monitor your charging schedule and hold your iPhone's battery charge at 80%, keeping it out of the strain zone. then point, it'll refill the charge to 100% right before you often unplug your phone. This works best for people that have a daily charging pattern.

For a manual approach, you'll also unplug your phone when it hits an 80% charge, but the trade-off is you would possibly miss out on additional hours of use that you'd get from a totally charged phone.

You shouldn't let your battery drain to zero

At just one occasion , you'll have wanted to let your phone discharge all the way down once during a while to assist the battery recalibrate its state of charge. But that's not such a lot of a drag with modern phone batteries. 

In fact, discharging A battery all the way down can cause chemical reactions that over time can shorten a battery's life. To avoid an entire discharge, a battery's management system includes safety features that power down a phone when it reaches an energy state safely above empty. you simply think you've hit zero once you see that last low-battery warning.

If you would like to require a more active hand in your battery's health, connect your phone when its battery level gets down around 30%, well above the stressfully low battery levels.

High temperatures can damage your battery
Heat may be a true enemy to your battery. High temperatures are known to scale back a battery's lifespan over time. 

You'll want to stay your phone out of strong sun, faraway from window sills and off the dashboard of your car to stop overheating, which may make the battery less efficient over time. In extreme cases, an overheated battery could explode. 

Temperatures as high as 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30C) can decrease a battery's effectiveness, said Isidor Buchmann, founder and CEO of battery-technology company Cadex Electronics and its companion Battery University education website.

Does that mean you would like to store your phone in an ice chest? No. But the maximum amount as you'll , keep it faraway from high temperatures. If you're call at the sun for long periods of your time , try draping a towel or T-shirt over it, or put it during a bag along side your cool bottle . the thought is to stay the phone's internal temperature from rising.

Mismatched chargers and cables won't harm your battery

Unless you're using counterfeit or damaged chargers and cables, mixing and matching cables and chargers isn't getting to harm your battery. However, you'll not be charging up quickly as possible as once you use those that came together with your device.

Some phones, like those from Huawei and OnePlus, use a proprietary charging design -- with a part of the circuitry liable for rapid charging built into the charger. to require full advantage of the device's proprietary fast charging, you would like to use its compatible charger.


Other phone makers, like Samsung and Apple, stick closer to industry-standard rules for fast charging and allow you to fast-charge effectively with a spread of compatible cables and chargers. 

The safest bet is to use the chargers and cables that are available the box, because when mixing and matching chargers and cables together with your phone, the device could default to rock bottom possible charging speed.

How else am i able to conserve my phone's battery power?

To squeeze more life out of your battery, you'll use the standard energy-saving tricks to conserve your battery's power, like dimming your display's brightness, turning off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when you are not using them, restricting background data usage through settings and keeping an eye fixed on apps that use GPS.

But the reality is, regardless of how careful we are, our phone batteries will last only goodbye . The trick is to urge as many months as we will from our battery without being during a constant state of hysteria about its charge.

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