Smartphones have the mighty power of super computers in a tiny package that can fit in the palm of our hands. They allow us to communicate, find entertainment, get work done, manage our finances, navigate to our destinations, shop the Web, and so much more. That is… until the battery runs out.
Avoid battery drain—and the anxiety that comes with it—by learning how to make your phone’s battery last longer and keep you connected when you need it most. Here we’ll bust five common myths about charging your iPhone or Android, plus provide helpful tips on getting the most out of every charge.
Myth 1: You shouldn’t charge your phone overnight
It’s absolutely fine to charge your battery overnight. In fact, it’s the best way to make sure you have a full, juicy battery to get you through the day.
This myth came from the days when we had nickel-ion batteries in our phones that suffered from something called “memory charge,” where if you didn’t let them deplete entirely, the batteries would “forget about” the part that didn’t get used.
Today’s phones use lithium-ion batteries, which don’t suffer from memory loss and are smart enough to regulate their power management. When you plug a smartphone into a charger, it will stop charging once it reaches 100 percent, so you don’t need to worry about “overcharging.”
Charging tip: Plug your phone in at night before you go to bed. In the morning, you’ll be ready with a phone that will last you all day.
Myth 2: You should let your battery drain completely before charging
Not only do you not need to do this, but you also shouldn’t. Every lithium-ion battery comes with a fixed amount of charge cycles (the number of times you can charge up to 100 percent and run down to 0 percent). An iPhone has a lifespan of about 400 to 500 charge cycles. But that doesn’t mean you can only plug it in 500 times—it means you have 500 chances to let it go from a full charge to no charge at all. So, if you let your battery drain completely every day, it will last 500 days. If you charge it before it drains and top it off throughout the day, you’ll stretch out the time those 500 charges will last.
There is one reason to let your battery drain completely. If it “dies” when the battery icon is showing a positive charge, it means the battery needs to be recalibrated. Draining it all the way down then charging it up again should fix the issue.
Charging tip: Remember your ABC’s: Always Be Charging. If you have a charger nearby, whether you’re at home, in the car or at the office, plug in your phone.
Myth 3: My battery will last forever if I charge it properly
Batteries are our smartphone’s weak spot, and until someone invents a battery that can last for years and go for days without a charge, we have to accept that they’ll need to be replaced. Lithium-ion batteries lose their capacity to hold a charge as they age, so even if you still have plenty of lifecycles left, you may only be able to charge your phone to 60 percent of its capacity. You can download an app to check on battery wear, and if it’s excessive, consider replacing the battery to give the phone a longer life.
Charging tip: Lithium-ion batteries don’t like being really low or really high. Experts agree that keeping your phone’s battery between 30 and 80 percent most of the time is the sweet spot for promoting its longevity.
Myth 4: I shouldn’t use my phone while it’s charging
There is no danger in using your phone while it’s charging. This myth comes from fears about batteries overheating. Lithium-ion batteries can be dangerous if they have any type of manufacturing defect, but this is rare. However, if your phone is ever excessively warm (while charging or not), get it checked out immediately.
Another issue to consider is counterfeit chargers. Charging cables contain chips in them, and if you are not using a manufacturer-approved cable, you could damage your phone. Buy name-brand chargers for safety and to help charge your phone more effectively.
Charging tip: While you can use it during a charge, having the screen on or apps refreshing in the background uses power, so it will charge at half the speed. If you want your phone to charge more quickly, put it in airplane mode or turn it off. Also, charging from a wall plug is always faster than using a computer or car charger.
Myth 5: Killing apps saves power
This is simply untrue, and it’s also bad advice. By killing and restarting apps again and again, you are actually using more resources (and more power) than if you just let the app stay in the background. Instead of closing your apps, use some of these tips if you’re low on juice and can’t get to a charger:
Power saving tips:
- On an iPhone, manually switch to Low Power Mode. Swipe up on the Home Screen to access the Control Panel and toggle on the battery symbol. If it’s not in your Control Center, add it there through Settings.
- On Android phones, activate your device’s Battery Saver Feature. (This has different names on different devices—LG calls it Power Saver Mode, Samsung calls it Ultra Power Saving Mode—but they all do essentially the same thing.)
- For Android phones, be sure to keep your operating system up to date. Android 6.0 introduced Doze Mode, which shuts down services you're not using to conserve battery life.
Maintain a healthy and powerful battery by keeping these myth-busting facts in mind. For more information on the features of specific smartphones, please visit our devices page.