Batteries don’t last forever. All too soon, you’ll notice your smartphone don’t last as long as they used to. To maximize that (sometimes non-user-replaceable) battery’s lifespan and also get more juice out of it during the day, follow these six (6) tips.
1. Initialize a new battery.
New batteries should be fully charged before their first use to obtain maximum capacity. Nickel-based batteries should be charged for 16 hours initially and run through 2-4 full charge/full discharge cycles, while lithium ion batteries should be charged for about 5-6 hours. Ignore the phone telling you that the battery is full—this is normal but is not accurate if the battery is not initialized.
2. Avoid fully discharging a lithium-ion battery!
Unlike Ni-Cd batteries, lithium-ion batteries’ life is shortened every time you fully discharge them. Instead, charge them when the battery meter shows one bar left. Lithium-ion batteries, like most rechargeable batteries, have a set number of charges in them.
3. Keep the battery cool.
Put the battery in the fridge. Your battery will last longest if used near room temperature, and nothing wears on a battery like extended exposure to high temperatures. While you can’t control the weather, you can avoid leaving your phone in a hot car or in direct sunlight, and you don’t have to carry your phone in your pocket, where your body heat will raise its temperature. In addition, check the battery while it’s charging. If it seems excessively hot, your charger may be malfunctioning.
4. Charge your battery correctly, in accordance with its type.
Most newer cell phones have lithium-ion batteries, while older ones generally have nickel-based batteries. Read the label on the back of the battery or in the technical specifications in the manual to determine which yours is.
- Nickel-based batteries (either NiCd or NiMH) don’t generally suffer from a misunderstood phenomenon known as the “memory effect.” As described in Wikipedia and many expert sources, the term “memory effect” has been widely mythologized to describe any and all deterioration of NiCd (and other battery chemical processes), in many cases misleading consumers into further shortening the lives of the batteries through over-discharging to “recondition” them.
- This section formerly read: If you charge the battery partially enough times, eventually the battery “forgets” that it can charge fully. A nickel-based battery suffering from memory effect can be reconditioned, which requires the battery to be completely discharged, then completely recharged (sometimes several times). The appropriate length of time between reconditioning varies. A good rule to follow for nickel-battery cell-phones is to discharge them completely once every two to three weeks, and only when you have a charger available.
- Lithium ion batteries can be preserved by careful charging and storing them at a partial charge. They do not require “reconditioning.”
Regardless of the battery type, use only a charger rated for your battery, and discontinue use of a charger that causes the battery to heat up excessively.
5. Store batteries properly.
If your battery will be out of use for a while, disconnect it from the phone and store it in a cool and dry but not freezing place (an airtight container in a refrigerator, but not a freezer). Don’t keep it with metal objects that might move around and short-circuit the terminals. Lithium ion batteries are not rated to operate at refrigerated temperatures, so let the battery sit outside the refrigerator for at least an hour before using it again. Lithium ion batteries oxidize least when they are stored at 40% charge. Never store a lithium battery at low voltage. Recharge batteries after storage.
6. Clean the battery contacts on the battery and on the phone.
Over time, contacts may accumulate dirt which reduce the efficiency of energy transfer. Clean them with a cotton swab and rubbing or isopropyl alcohol. If the contacts are two different metals, such as gold and tin, accelerated corrosion known as “galvanic or bi-metallic” occurs. Cutting the corrosion from the contacts often requires solvents, such as acetone or nail polish remover. Be careful: these solvent dissolve plastic, so use a Q-Tip to avoid damaging the battery housing or the phone.