Jim Rossman: Best practices for keeping your phone's battery happy and healthyMay 22, 2019 2:46pm

May 21-- I was part of an online conversation this week about the best way to charge your cellphone.

Is it better to keep the battery as full as you can, or should you regularly run it all the way down to zero before you charge up?

I read as much as I could find online to get everyone's ideas of the best practices.

Most tech gadgets use lithium-ion batteries, which weigh less and last longer than older battery types.

According to Apple, an iPhone uses fast charging until a battery reaches 80 percent, then it switches to a trickle charge for the last 20 percent.

Faster charging is more convenient for the user, but slower charging is better for battery longevity.

According to Apple, lithium-ion batteries work in "charge cycles."

You use up one charge cycle when you discharge 100% of a battery's power.

That can mean taking a 100% full battery and running it down to zero. One charge cycle can also be consumed by using 75% of your battery power one day, then recharging overnight and using 25% the next day. Those two days' power draw will equal one charge cycle.

Apple says its batteries should still have 80% of their original capacity after 500 charge cycles.

So what can you do to increase the lifespan of your battery?

For starters, don't let the phone get too hot or too cold. The iPhone's lithium-ion batteries behave best between 32 degrees and 95 degrees.

If you keep your iPhone in a protective case and notice that your phone gets hot when you charge it, remove it from the case while charging.

I also looked up Samsung's battery charging recommendations. It advises users to try not to let the phone's battery level drop below 20% and to avoid completely draining it to zero.

The sweet spot for battery health seems to be keeping it between 80% and 20% charged.

Both Apple and Samsung recommend keeping the battery at a 50% charge if you are storing the phone for extended periods. The battery will drain itself over time, even when powered off.

It's best to check a stored phone every few months and bring its charge back up to 50 percent.

If you begin to notice strange battery activity, like shutting off when there is still 10 or 20% of the charge left, it's probably time for a new battery.

You can check your iPhone or Android phone's battery health through the battery control panel inside Settings.

All that said, here's what I do.

I charge my phone overnight. I start my day with 100% charge, and I don't worry about it. The battery on my iPhone XS Max is big enough for me. I can't remember the last time I ran it down far enough to worry about.

Best practices and real life don't always mesh.

If I know I'm going to be out late, I'll try to top off during the day. My goal is to keep the charge level above 20% at the end of the day.

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ABOUT THE WRITER

Jim Rossman writes for The Dallas Morning News. He may be reached at jrossman@dallasnews.com.

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(c)2019 The Dallas Morning News

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