5 Battery Myths Explained: The Truth about Saving Your Battery Life

Posted on Posted in Android, Battery Life, iOS, iPhone, Smart Phones, Windows Phone

There are a lot of myths about saving the battery life on your smartphone so that you may have more talk time, or daily usage, without having to recharge it constantly.

One of the biggest problems anyone will tell you they experience when owning a smartphone is the battery life. While statistics will tell you your phone has a long lasting battery life, including an extended amount of talk time, that’s not realistic when you happen to be using your phone for multiple things throughout the day.

Take for example AT&T’s Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge. The specifications list approximately 26 hours of talk time with a fully charged battery. We use smartphones for more than just talking however, and this makes our battery life significantly less talk time than what the specifications indicate.

Over the past few years, smartphone batteries have advanced quite a bit from their predecessors. Perhaps you knew some ‘old’ tricks that have been used in the past to stretch your battery life.

The tips we once swore by, no longer hold as much value. That is to say, before you go telling someone to disable their Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, let me explain a few myths about battery preservation, and a few things you can do to truly ensure more battery life.

# 1 Myth: Charging Your Battery Overnight Ruins Your Long-Term Battery Life

In the past, it was true that older lithium ion batteries would degrade quicker when being charged over night, or for long periods of time. Sometimes they could even “over-heat”, (or in rare cases, explode), which would ultimately reduce the charge capacity, or long term life of the battery.

These days, smart phone chargers are ‘smarter’, and have the capability of preventing this from happening.

Regarding overheating or overcharging your phone all through the night or any other extended time, Andrew Goldberg of Popular Mechanics has this to say:

“All modern Li-Ion rechargeable devices have some sort of power management IC, designed to prevent overcharging the battery. They’ll keep your phone battery topped off and ready to go throughout the night with a trickle charge at most.”

Because newer batteries and chargers have the ability to slow down the charge after about 80%, your phone receives a smaller charge the closer it gets to 100%. This way it never overheats. While leaving your phone charged for long duration’s can degrade your battery life, it is not enough to notice, as it has been in the past.

If you want to extend or prolong the life of your smartphones’ battery, it is recommended that you keep it between 40%-80% full. Obviously this is something that is unattainable in the ‘real world’, especially for those who use their phone for more than basic calls. Despite this suggestion, the good news is that you can leave your phone plugged in for as long as you want, and it doesn’t negatively affect it the way it used to.

You might want to stay clear of wireless chargers for overnight or extended charging, as they tend to generate waste-heat, which can also overheat your battery and wear them down quicker over time.

Also, beware of fast chargers. Even though your phone or charger is generally smart enough to minimize damage from high-voltage chargers, a quick amount of power can generate extra heat, and the waste-heat those chargers generate will also bake your battery.

# 2 Myth: Completely Discharging Your Battery Before Recharging

Remember when you were told to immediately discharge your battery when you first got a new phone?

This was suppose to prolong your devices battery life because batteries used to ‘forget’ their own capacity, and would not fully charge. If you did not deplete your battery to 0% within the first few uses, it would lack the ability to completely charge to full capacity.

Current technology uses lithium-ion batteries in smartphones, which don’t have this memory loss issue like older nickel cadmium and nickel-metal hydride batteries.

This is because they go through charge cycles, where the capacity of the battery is ‘remembered’ even if you charge your smartphone before the battery completely dies. It will remember how much of the battery capacity was used, and that is equivalent to one full charge cycle. So the capacity of the battery diminishes only slightly with every complete charge cycle.

Apple explains how this process works:

“Charge your Apple lithium-ion battery whenever you want. There’s no need to let it discharge 100% before recharging. Apple lithium-ion batteries work in charge cycles. You complete one charge cycle when you’ve used (discharged) an amount that equals 100% of your battery’s capacity — but not necessarily all from one charge. For instance, you might use 75% of your battery’s capacity one day, then recharge it fully overnight. If you use 25% the next day, you will have discharged a total of 100%, and the two days will add up to one charge cycle. It could take several days to complete a cycle. The capacity of any type of battery will diminish after a certain amount of recharging. With lithium-ion batteries, the capacity diminishes slightly with each complete charge cycle. Apple lithium-ion batteries are designed to hold at least 80% of their original capacity for a high number of charge cycles, which varies depending on the product.”

Despite this advancement in battery technology, manufacturers will often suggest you calibrate your battery, by discharging it completely, and then recharging it to full capacity. The reason for this is that it helps recalculate the charge capacity on your battery.

The downside is that each time you do this, it will decrease the battery life just a little bit. So doing it frequently isn’t recommended. If your battery is acting odd though and showing full capacity and then suddenly drops to 20%, it is probably a good idea to re-calibrate it.

There’s less need to do this though, as most people get a new phone every 2 years once their contract is up or a new version is out.

# 3 Myth: Only Use Official Chargers

I’m not sure where people got the idea it was bad to use a ‘generic’, non-name brand charger.

Generally manufacturers want you to purchase their products, so they in turn, receive profits. In most boxes or manuals, it will often say it’s “highly recommended” that you don’t use any other charger.

I don’t recommend using an extremely cheap knock off or counterfeit charger, but I do think it is okay to use affordable off-brand chargers. Why pay $30 for something that comes with the phone in most cases?

Today’s USB chargers are standardized and work with many different devices efficiently. While using these, you may see variations in charge time, that does not have any affect on your battery’s overall battery life.

Like we talked about before, modern batteries are smart enough to only use the maximum amount of power it can handle despite the amount of amps the charger gives it.  Because of this, there is no danger of overheating or exploding your battery.

The only reason knock-off brands are not as great as off-brand chargers, is that they often state a higher (or lower) charging power than they actually provide.

# 4 Myth: Disable Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth to Save Batter Life

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For some reason or another, everyone is told to turn off these features, along with every other feature that comes out to help your system run smoother.

The reason for disabling them when not in use? Simple. People fear they are a threat to their precious battery life and drain it quicker.

While it’s true that having them on and using them will drain your battery life, there is no need to toggle everything off. These features barely use any power, and do not use an extreme amount of battery life.locatoins

Let’s look at the iPhone as an example. MacWorld investigated how much of a toll these system services took on the battery life of an iPhone. What they found was that it does not have a huge effect on the battery.

Apps that use location services, and are not actively being used for example, have almost no effect on the longevity of the battery charge. They also learned that turning on airplane mode, which turns off many system services including Wi-Fi, bluetooth, and GPS, only extends the battery charge an additional 30 minutes!

Although this investigation was conducted two years ago, there is most likely not a huge improvement as far as the time the battery charge lasts when using airplane mode.

While Wi-Fi and Bluetooth used to use a lot of power, they barely use any nothat toggling them on and off does very little for battery life. When using the location services, just let apps use it when needed. Otherwise, there’s no point in having the apps use them and draining power. The constant use of location searching tends to drain the battery life quickly.

You can turn off these system services if you don’t use them either. There’s no point in having them on if you’re not using them after all.

# 5 Myth: Close Apps to Save Battery Life

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I use to believe that this was a genuine battery life saver. As our phones CPU usage increases, our battery life tends to drain quicker. So one would presume that if you have a lot of apps open, you are using a large amount of RAM or ‘power’, depleting your battery faster.

That’s not necessarily the case however.

Smartphone Apps do not work the same way they would as a computer program or app. In the case of iOS, iPhone apps do not stay open once they are left, the same way as if you went to your desktop. When you go back to the home screen and leave an app, it stops, and doesn’t use any resources or battery power.

When you close the app, it uses CPU power, and battery power to close everything, which diminishes the battery charge slightly

The former Genius Bar technician, Scotty Loveless explains the process by stating:

“By closing the app, you take the app out of the phone’s RAM. While you think this may be what you want to do, it’s not. When you open that same app again the next time you need it, your device has to load it back into memory all over again. All of that loading and unloading puts more stress on your device than just leaving it alone. Plus, iOS closes apps automatically as it needs more memory, so you’re doing something your device is already doing for you. You are meant to be the user of your device, not the janitor.”

The same concept holds true for both Android operating systems and Windows Phones.

Even though many android users will swear Task advance-task-killer-pro-1Manager or Task Killer Apps, they tend to do more harm than good. These apps, essentially shut down all running apps, including some system apps necessary for regular functioning of your phone.

Forcing an app to close makes the app take longer to initiate the app when you reopen it, because it has to reload all the settings and even log in at times. When you force close an app, it also takes more CPU (central processing unit) power to open and reactivate all the settings for that particular app.

The only time an app should be force closed is if it is not working properly.

Having apps use different services such as location services, data calls in the background, or send constant notifications, often use up battery power. So rather than turning off the app all together, it is better to just turn of these settings within the app itself.

What do I mean by this? Turning off notifications for apps such as games or other social media apps help a great deal to preserve the longevity of your battery life. Ensuring your background data is turned off, helps a great deal as well.

On the iOS, this process is called Background Refresh. Often times, apps will use your data in the background of your phone, even when you are not using the app. This will drain the battery because it is using unnecessary CPU power explained above. The Background Refresh is a new feature on the iOS 7, that can be accessed in your settings. Simply go to Settings > General > Background App Refresh and simply toggle for any apps you don’t care about.

On Android OS, you can turn off background data by simply going to your Settings > Wireless & Networks > Data Usage and set “Allow background data” to “Restrict background data.” The only downside to restricting background data to save battery life, is that some apps such as the Google Play Store won’t work.

So just remember, if the App is poorly coded or extremely demanding, it can still kill your battery life. Luckily, smartphones have the ability to track which Apps use most of your battery up. Android for instance, you just go to Settings > Battery to see which apps are using the most power. For iPhones, just go to your Settings > Battery to see similar information.

That way if you have an App you don’t use very much, you can decide if it’s worth keeping or not. Uninstall them if there of no use and using up space or battery power.

Saving Battery Life

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Now that we know what doesn’t truly save your battery life, let’s go over two things that save a significant amount.

With newer smartphone screen resolutions getting better, like the Samsung Galaxy S6’s Super Amoled Screen wear the battery down a great deal. While your high resolution phone looks amazing and accentuates colors, the battery takes a serious toll.

The other thing that has a large impact on your battery life is your data running. 4G LTE is the new, fastest internet out there. That also means it takes some power to run, and decreases battery life fairly quickly if you are using apps that use certain Data Services such as Location, GPS, or Messaging Services often take a lot of battery life.

Some people have taken up carrying a second battery around, for those smartphones that can be easily replaced. Many Android or Window Phone users found that carrying an extra battery through the day is a great way to keep your phone fully charged. Others do all the above, toggling off services, or turning data off. There are even apps that let you switch from 4G LTE, to 3G, or Edge networks, to use less power such as 4G LTE Switch.

Just remember, batteries are not made to last forever. They eventually lose their charge capacity, or the ability to hold a charge.

 

 

 

 

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