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Cell phone batteries: the truth about extending their life

Dispelling myths about cell phone batteries

You may not like it but cell phone batteries, and their longevity, are an integral part of modern life. There is, however, a lot of misinformation out there about what does and doesn’t affect the health of your battery. We’re here to set the record straight. 

In this article, we’ll be looking at cell phone batteries and the common “knowledge” that surrounds them. We’ll be looking at what’s fact and what’s fiction, and some of the best practices for protecting your precious cell phone batteries.

Charging cell phone batteries overnight leads to overcharging, which is damaging.

Despite being one of the most common things that you’ll hear about protecting your phone’s battery, this is not true. 

People who tell you this believe that when you leave your phone plugged in overnight, or on charge for extended periods while already at 100%, power is being continually pumped through to the battery, overcharging it and reducing it’s capacity to hold charge in the future. 

And we get why! In the past, overcharging lithium-ion batteries was a real cause for concern. That was, however, before smartphones became…well…smart.

These days, phones are built with this concern in mind and precautions have been taken to avoid it happening. Your battery’s management system is purposefully designed so that once your battery reaches 100%, the charging stops.

So on the overcharging front, you can sleep easy. 

Woman asleep in bed
Photo by Gregory Pappas on Unsplash

We do, however, want to note that leaving your phone on all night, every night may have a slightly negative effect on the long term health of your battery. 

You see, charging your phone between 80% and 100% can place stress on your battery. So every time your phone drops below 100%, the charge needed to get it back up to full is slightly damaging your battery. 

We wouldn’t worry about this too much though.

Oh, and if you’re an Apple user, we’ve got a handy tip for you. You can turn on Optimized Battery Charging under Battery Health, which will learn your daily charging routine and adapt accordingly. This should help address that stress! 

Cell phone batteries last longer if you occasionally let your battery drain to zero before you charge it.

Again, you’re going to want to ignore this one. 

This myth is a remnant of times before lithium-ion became the standard for cell phone batteries. While it’s true that in the past this would have helped your battery last longer, this technique will in fact likely do damage to your battery.

Just as charging between 80% and 100% places a bit of strain on the battery, so does charging in the bottom percentiles. 

In an ideal world, to prolong your battery life, you want to keep your battery somewhere around the 25% to 80% region using partial charges.

Cell phone batteries get damaged by high temperatures.


This one is actually true and definitely something to keep in mind. 

High temperatures can affect how effective cell phone batteries are over time. So, whenever possible, you want to avoid leaving your cell phone on or near hot surfaces, in direct sunlight or in a hot car.

We’re not saying that you should be panicking every time you’ve got your phone out on a sunny summer’s day, but you should just be wary about exposing your phone to high temperatures for prolonged periods. 

Cell phones with batteries that have a higher mAh rating have longer-lasting life.

While this sounds like it must be true, this is again a misconception.

If you’ve ever looked at a phone’s specs, you’ve likely seen “x mAh battery” and assumed that the higher the number, the longer the battery will last. We know we used to.

When we were researching this article, however, we realised we didn’t really know what mAh means, or whether our assumption was actually true.

For those of you that don’t know, mAh is an abbreviation that stands for milliampere-hour, the unit of electrical charge which is equal to supplying one milliamp of current for one hour. Essentially, a 1 mAh battery can provide 1mA of current for one hour and a 10 mAh battery can provide 1 mA of current for 10 hours. Get it?

So it seems logical that the higher the mAh, the longer the battery would last. Right?

Wrong.

This assumes that phones all use the same amount of power over the same amount of time. Which, when you think about it, is obviously not the case.

The amount of power a phone consumes is based on a vast range of factors, from quality of processor, to screen size, to just about anything.

So, while the mAh of a battery will tell you how big the battery is, it doesn’t actually offer much indication of how long it will last.

Android Authority wrote a great piece comparing the battery life of different phones with different sized batteries. We found the results pretty fascinating! 

Cell phone batteries will get damaged if you don’t use proprietary chargers.

We saved this one to last because it’s kind of true, but also kind of false.

To be clear, ideally, you want to be using the charger that came with the phone or a charger bought from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). These, however, are often annoyingly expensive and so we wouldn’t blame you for wanting to shop around a little.

That said, you should be somewhat cautious about buying cheap cables. Chargers from reputable sources have built-in regulators that limit the amount of current being delivered to your device. Counterfeit cables, on the other hand, do not. 

This means that they could provide harmful amounts of current to your battery, damaging it.

We’re not saying that you should avoid buying off-brand chargers completely. Far from it.

If you don’t want to buy your cable from your phone’s manufacturer, you can get one from a reputable retailer like Anker or Belkin without worrying about it affecting your battery’s life.

Ting Mobile charges less

Worrying about a low battery is one thing but having to contend with a high cell phone bill can be a real cause for concern.

That’s why, here at Ting Mobile, we like to give our customers control over how much your monthly bill will be, with our pay what you use billing system. For example, if you don’t use any data then you won’t pay for any data. It’s really that simple.

So, if you want to take control of your cell phone bill, and your spending, why not see if you can bring your phone and number over to Ting today?