Have We Been Charging Our Smartphones Wrong All Along?

charging-the-smartphone

Your smartphone may have the fastest processor, the latest operating system, and the best available apps, but sometimes, that’s not enough. If your battery conks out after just an hour of use, then all the bells and whistles in the world aren’t going to make up for your phone’s unfortunate lack of power. What’s more, if you always have to keep your phone plugged in for it to stay on, you’re sort of missing a big part of having a mobile phone: the mobility.

Keeping your smartphone battery in good shape is essential — we all know this. As a result, there are lots of rumors out there about how you should care for your battery to extend its life and cut down on the number of times you have to spend money to upgrade. However, many of these rumors are often unsubstantiated, leaving most of us to wonder which are true and which are false.

Which phone charging myths do you believe? Here are five of the most common myths about charging your smartphone, along with their corresponding truths.

1. Playing the percentages, part 1.

Myth: Don’t plug it in until it’s down to less than 20%.

Truth: Plug it in whenever you can.

One of the biggest myths about smartphones is that you should run them down until they’re almost dead before you charge them. While this line of thinking held true for older types of rechargeable batteries, the Lithium-Ion batteries used in iPhones and most Android phones actually last longer when they’re kept charged. Draining the battery all the way before charging it is OK if you do it every once in awhile out of necessity, but make it a habit, and you’ll notice a significant decrease in your battery’s — and your phone’s — longevity.

2. Playing the percentages, part 2.

Myth: Charge it all the way to 100% before unplugging it.

Truth: You can take your phone out and use it after charging for just a little while.

A full charge is actually helpful if you’re going to be away from an outlet for a while (like all day), but is it necessary to charge your phone all the way up to 100% each and every time you plug it in? Not at all. Doing so can actually place unnecessary stress on the battery, which can shorten its overall lifespan. Remember, your phone is powered by a Lithium-Ion battery, which is much stronger and versatile than the old nickel-cadmium or nickel-metal hydride batteries; the old rules about rechargeable batteries no longer apply here.

3. The unplugging conundrum.

Myth: Leave it plugged in until you’re ready to leave the house.

Truth: It’s best to unplug it when fully charged whenever possible.

Just like it’s tempting to go out with a phone that’s charged up all the way, it’s tempting to leave your phone plugged in until you absolutely need to use it or leave the house. However, doing that is a mistake. Your phone doesn’t just stop charging once it hits 100%; instead, it continues to get mini boosts of power to maintain a totally full battery. That adds extra stress on the battery, which can noticeably shorten its life. The same holds true for charging it overnight and leaving it plugged in for six or seven hours after it’s fully charged: it’s actually wearing down the battery. When you do charge your phone’s battery all the way, you want to unplug your phone as soon as you notice it’s at 100%.

4. Be official or beware?

Myth: Don’t use a third party charger.

Truth: Most third party chargers are just fine.

In a perfect world, the phone charger that came with your phone would never get lost. However, they’re slippery little things, and sometimes they just go missing. Or, we often need multiple chargers in multiple places, and phones come with just one. The solution to all of these minor problems? Pick up a third party charger. Or is that a bad idea? There are some rumors going around that third party chargers can do damage to your equipment, take a long time to charge your phone, or even worse, give you a shock or catch fire. Those last two rumors are the results of an actual incidents in which people using third party chargers did have to contend with fire and deadly shock, but they are few and far between.

Here’s the deal: third party chargers are just fine as long as they’re made by a reputable company and are identical to the original charger in terms of voltage. You definitely do want to avoid the ultra cheap knock off chargers, as those could potentially have faulty wiring and lead to problems. (It’s definitely a case of “you get what you pay for” here.) However, off brand chargers that match up spec-wise will work just fine for you.

5. Temperature concerns.

Myth: Phone batteries operate efficiently in all temperatures.

Truth: If your phone gets too hot or too cold, the battery won’t last as long.

Phone batteries and all electronic equipment in general are like people: they want to be kept comfortable. Get them too hot or too cold — say, over 100 Fahrenheit or a few degrees below the freezing point — and you’ll find your battery depleted much faster than it would be at room temperature. They’re just not designed for such extremes. This means that you definitely don’t want to leave your phone (again, or any electronic equipment) in your car during all but maybe a few weeks out of the year, lest it get too hot or too cold. You also want to do your best to keep it at a temperature at which you feel comfortable. Doing these things will help your battery’s charge last longer and help improve the battery’s overall longevity.

Separating Fact From Fiction

How many of these myths have you been taking as truth? While it’s certainly forgivable to accept the wisdom of the masses, it’s also important to recognize that the masses aren’t always as wise as we’d like them to be. Now that you know the truth about charging your smartphone, you’ll want to change any bad charging habits to help your phone’s battery last as long as possible.

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