As it is widely known, the latest smartphones are equipped with high-capacity lithium-ion batteries with Quick Charge, which provides fast charging in minutes. Unfortunately, this undoubtedly shortens the battery life. How to properly use this new technology to make your smartphone last longer?
Cell phone manufacturers have long been making chargers and connectors for their phones based on their own needs. For a long time there was no single standard, no compatibility when it came to connectors – each manufacturer relied on its own solutions.
At the end of XXI century USB Battery Charging standard was developed, which was the first attempt to create universal charger for all devices with increased power consumption. It was based on microUSB connector, and you can still find it in many devices. USB Type-C is becoming more common these days.
The next step is the USB Power Delivery (PD) standard. In the very first version, which appeared in 2012, developers even achieved fast charging of 100 watts. However, commercial versions of smartphones gave an order of magnitude less power, working with 5V and 2A current – that was 4-5 years ago. That was still not enough for really fast charging.
At the same time, smartphone manufacturers were working on a fast charging standard The pioneer was California-based Qualcomm with Quick Charge technology integrated into the chipset. The latest version 5, unveiled in July, promises fantastic results – fast charging a 4500 mAh battery takes just 15 minutes. There are no such fast-charging smartphones on the market yet, but it’s only a matter of time before manufacturers master these technologies. The first is Xiaomi with its 80W technology.
Smartphone manufacturers have also created many fast charging standards, not all of which are compatible with each other. And that’s the problem – if you forget your charger, another power supply actually deprives you of a useful feature, but there are exceptions. For example, Apple’s fast charging technology is based on the PD protocol, and the latest versions of Quick Charge are fully compatible with Apple products.
Already some smartphones are able to replenish the battery capacity literally before our eyes. In particular, this has succeeded in the Chinese corporation BBK, which has created the SuperVOOC 2.0 power supply with a power of 65 watts. A compatible smartphone can be fully charged in 35 minutes. Unfortunately, this is a proprietary technology – this speed can be achieved only with this one charger and a special cable.
Fast charging was conceived to be as safe as possible for the battery and the smartphone itself, and thus for the user. But in practice, everything turned out not so simple.
Regardless of the name of the technology, the principle of operation boils down to increasing the current and voltage, which give the same power. But exceeding a certain safe threshold threatens that the battery can explode, as Samsung found out with one of its flagship smartphones Galaxy Note 7. Therefore, each charge has a kind of “brain” – a microchip-controller that determines how much current/voltage and at what point the battery should receive. The controller is integrated into the motherboard of the smartphone. If this chip fails then there can be trouble, because power without control will inevitably lead to overheating. Therefore, modern chargers are not only efficient, but also” smart”. They work with the smartphone according to a special protocol, constantly monitoring the state, heating and level of charge of the battery. Based on these indicators, they adjust the power output by changing the voltage and current.
Typically, the highest power output of the power supply is produced when the battery is almost completely discharged. Maybe that’s why it’s impressive how fast the initial charge grows – the efficiency of charging the first 50% of the battery is especially noticeable.
The user often manages to bypass all protective barriers and the smartest smartphone. The human factor in the case of problems with fast charging is the main problem, and here the manuals from manufacturers that no one pays attention to when unpacking a new smartphone are important. One of the main reasons for the accelerated degradation of the smartphone battery is that the owner of the device leaves the phone in the case or even puts it under the pillow overnight during fast charging, which overheats the battery and leads to failure.
Unfortunately, charging too often negatively affects the battery. The key danger of frequent fast charging is that it shortens the life of the battery, and thus the user changes the phone too often to a newer model. By doing so, he or she settles the issue of not using the phone and its battery properly. The next user changes the battery to some counterfeit because it’s cheaper and continues to get tired until the phone ends up in the drawer as an emergency or for recycling.
Smartphone charging rules
Fast charging is associated with more heat, because more power. This, in turn, is inherently associated with a reduction in the already finite life of the lithium-ion battery (it is estimated that a lithium-ion battery lasts about 1000-2000 charges). And if the battery was previously within 1.5-2 years (that’s how long a good smartphone usually lives), then there were at least 700 charges (1x a day), so with regular rapid charging, the battery capacity can drop much earlier.
Fast charging means shorter cycles and more heat, which negatively affects the battery.
According to research, a 40-watt fast charge reduces battery capacity by 30% over the same period, while a 15-watt charge would reduce capacity by 10%.
To somehow compensate for the inevitable loss, developers use a clever algorithm. The process is divided into two stages. In the first stage, the smartphone receives the maximum power in the minimum time. For example, one of the Oppo models will charge up to 40% in 10 minutes. But the last 30-40% in any fast charging is longer.
You can extend the battery life of your smartphone yourself by following very simple rules:
1. should not be allowed to discharge below 10% – lithium-ion and lithium-polymer batteries do not tolerate deep discharge – for this reason, the battery life drops sharply.
2. The second rule is even more important than the first, especially for fast charging – use only the original charger or a high-quality equivalent. Many battery problems could be avoided, but not if you use a cheap Chinese counterfeit to charge your smartphone, because someone saved on the original charger.
3) Use the original cable for your charger and phone, because sometimes users use the wrong or not their cable and do not know why their phone charges so slowly. The classic example is 1A and 2A cables and despite having the right 2A charger, the smartphone charges too slowly because it is running on 1A charge.
4 It’s the same with car chargers – it’s worth checking if it’s 1A or 2A or even higher, although this is rare. Sometimes a car charger has 2 USBs – one is 1A and the other is 2A – they will charge differently. Charging in a car is always worse than from the original mains charger. The same goes for power banks, solar chargers or public chargers.
5. as the battery does not like to be discharged to “zero”, it does not like to be plugged in too long to get 100%. It is generally believed that to achieve maximum capacity, you should charge the battery no more than 80%. Then you can still recharge, not immediately from almost zero.
Lithium-ion batteries are not resistant to extreme temperatures. You should know that talking outside in the extreme cold will drain your smartphone battery very quickly. In winter the battery drains faster, so it is better to talk indoors than outdoors.
(7) Problems can also arise from impatience of users. An example is running games or apps on a smartphone that is rapidly charging at that moment. This is when the device experiences a double load and heats up unnecessarily – this should be avoided so as not to put unnecessary strain on the phone’s battery while charging.
You also need to remember that mishandling a smartphone is one thing, and faulty batteries are another, because different batteries are matched to some phones in different markets.
The author has been using a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 for five years, and the battery is still pretty good – just the right “hygiene” when using and charging, and the phone can last a long time.