[SOLVED] : Everything you need to know about your smartphone battery: overloading, overheating and fast charging

[SOLVED] : Everything you need to know about your smartphone battery: overloading, overheating and fast charging

Does your phone last all day on a single charge? And what will be in a year? If you are thinking of buying a new phone like theiPhone SE 2020, the Samsung galaxy a51 where the Oneplus 8, its autonomy is a crucial choice factor. As we expect more from our phones while demanding more durability, the importance of at least a day’s battery life has become essential.

This is also one of the reasons why fast chargers are now so prevalent, at least for high-end devices. The flagships like the Xiaomi mi 10 pro and theOppo Find X2 Pro are the fastest and most powerful of all. If the battery threatens to discharge before the end of the day, the best solution is to recharge it quickly. With this technology, 10 minutes of charging can make the difference in restoring several hours of autonomy.

But does this type of fast charger pose a risk of damaging your phone battery in the short term? Can it degrade its long-term energy storage capacity? And what causes unnecessary battery wear?

To get answers, our colleagues at CNET.com interviewed several researchers and engineers specializing in batteries. Here is what they learned.

Your phone’s battery isn’t going to change anytime soon

All cell phones, most personal electronics and electric vehicles, use rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. It is difficult to create batteries that last longer because the technology has not changed in decades. Much of the recent progress in battery life has come from the power saving features built into devices and the development of software that manages charging and discharging more efficiently.

Unfortunately for cell phones, it is currently the automotive, satellite and home power sectors that are benefiting from the most extensive work on battery life.

One handicap that plays against phones is the size of their battery. Compared to that of an electric car, the power of a phone battery is minimal. For example, the battery of the Tesla Model 3 has a capacity more than 4000 times that of theiPhone 12 Pro Max.

This size criterion is essential because the larger a battery, the more tips there are to extend its life. For example, when you charge a battery, its voltage increases, which puts stress on it, especially during the last 20% of the charge. To avoid this stress, electric car manufacturers may only charge batteries to 80%. By playing on a larger battery capacity, the electric car can still travel an acceptable distance, while avoiding the stress of higher voltages. As a result, it can double the total battery life of an automobile.

Large capacity phone batteries provide a full day of use, but usually only when they are 100% charged. This provides acceptable battery life but puts more stress on the battery due to the higher voltage required to fully recharge it.

Unless there is a major technological breakthrough in the near future, improvements to our phone batteries are more likely to come from reducing the devices’ overall power consumption.

Fast charging will not damage your battery

A conventional charger has a power of 5 to 10 watts. A faster charger can increase this power up to eight times. For example, iPhone 1 support a load with a power of 20 watts while the Huawei mate 40 pro comes with 66 watt chargers.

Unless there is a technical defect in your battery or charger electronics, using a fast charger will not damage your phone battery in the long run.

Fast charging batteries operate in two phases. The first phase consists in applying a high voltage to the empty or almost empty battery. This gives you an explosive charge of 50-70% within the first 10, 15, or 30 minutes. During this first phase, the batteries can absorb a charge quickly without major negative effects in the long term.

For example, Samsung promises that its 45-watt charger can go from zero to 70 percent in half an hour. Apple claims that the fast charger that came with its iPhone 12 can reach a 50% charge in 30 minutes.

Charging the remaining 20 or 30% may take as long as charging the first 70 or 80%. This last part is the second phase of charging, during which manufacturers have to slow down and carefully manage the charging speed, otherwise the process could damage the battery.

Arthur Shi, an engineer at the iFixit repair site, suggests imagining a battery as a sponge. When you first pour water on a dry sponge, it quickly absorbs the liquid. For a battery, this corresponds to the rapid charge phase.

If we continue to pour water on the increasingly wet sponge at the same rate, the liquid will accumulate on the surface and have more and more difficulty to soak in the saturated sponge. . For a battery, this unabsorbed charge can lead to short circuits and other problems that could potentially damage it.

The battery management system closely monitors both phases of charging and reduces speed during the second phase to give the battery time to absorb the charge and avoid problems. This is why it can take 10 minutes to get those last percentage points.

We remember the battery problem encountered by Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7. It was not due to battery management but to initial design flaws.

You cannot overcharge your phone battery

In the past, overload was a source of anxiety for phone owners. The fear was that keeping a phone constantly plugged in could degrade its overall lifespan or even cause it to burst or catch fire.

According to the experts we spoke to, however, a battery management system is designed to cut off the electrical load when a battery reaches 100%, before it can overcharge.

“Unless something goes wrong in the battery circuit, you can’t overload a modern phone,” says Venkat Srinivasan, a researcher at the Argonne National Laboratory. “They have protection built in to prevent that from happening.”

Apple has been tackling this problem intelligently since iOS 13 who knows how to charge an iPhone battery to 100% without causing long term damage. If you frequently leave your iPhone plugged in during the day or night, you can activate a setting called ‘Optimized Battery Charging’ which will monitor the process and keep the battery charge at 80%. Then charging resumes up to 100% just before you unplug your phone on a regular schedule. This method is ideal for people who have a constant rate of charge.

You can also go for the manual method by unplugging the phone as soon as it reaches 80%, but you may not enjoy the extra hours of use that a fully charged battery gives you.

Don’t let your battery drain completely

Completely discharging a battery can cause chemical reactions which, over time, shorten its lifespan. To prevent a complete discharge, the battery management system includes safety devices that turn off a phone when it reaches a higher power level than an empty battery. If you want to take a more active part in your battery health, plug in your phone when its battery level drops to around 30%, well above the low battery levels that cause hardware stress.

High temperatures can damage your battery

Heat is an enemy of batteries since it shortens their lifespan. Protect your phone from direct sunlight and any excessive heat source. In extreme cases, an overheating battery could explode.

According to Isidor Buchmann, founder and CEO of Cadex Electronics, which specializes in battery technology, temperatures as high as 30 degrees Celsius can already affect the efficiency of a battery.

If you have to stay in the sun for a long time, try covering your phone with a towel, T-shirt, or bag it with your cold water bottle. The idea is to prevent the internal temperature of the device from rising.

Mismatched chargers and cables won’t damage your battery

Unless you are using counterfeit or damaged chargers and cables, mixing cables and chargers will not damage your battery. However, you may not be able to charge it as quickly as when using the original charger.

Some phones, like those from Huawei and OnePlus, use a proprietary charging system where part of the circuit responsible for fast charging is built into the charger. To take full advantage of this capacity, you must therefore use its compatible charger.

Other phone makers, such as Samsung and Apple, move closer to industry standards and allow quick and efficient charging with a variety of compatible cables and chargers. In the end, the safest way is to use the original chargers and cables.

What else can you do to save your phone’s battery?

To extend your battery life, you can use the usual power saving tricks like reducing screen brightness, turning off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when you are not using them, limiting the use of data in the background and keep tabs on apps that use GPS.

But we have to come to terms with the fact that, even if we are cautious, the battery life of our phones is limited.