Future-proofing your phone: Tips for extending battery life and performance

20 May 2024


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We’ve all been there: staring at our phone’s screen in horror as the battery dips towards the red zone, desperately searching for a charger before our digital lifeline goes dark. But what if you could squeeze more juice out of your phone’s battery, avoiding those last-minute scrambles and extending the lifespan of your trusty device?

From charging habits to settings that can optimise performance, we’ll crack the code on mobile battery health.

Understanding battery basics

Most smartphones these days rely on lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries, which pack a lot of power in a small size and are perfect for keeping our phones thin and light. They also boast minimal self-discharge, meaning they hold their charge well when not in use, unlike in the past where you would leave your phone off all night and wake up to a dead battery. Yet, like all things in life, Li-ion batteries aren’t perfect – over time, they can lose some capacity, while they don’t love extreme temperatures.

What factors affect your battery?

The lifespan of your smartphone’s battery is influenced by a combination of chemical and usage factors. Here’s a breakdown of the key culprits:

  • Charge cycles: lithium-ion batteries have a limited number of charge cycles – roughly a full discharge and recharge – before their capacity starts to diminish. So, the more frequently you completely drain your battery and then recharge it to 100%, the faster the overall capacity will decline.
  • Temperature extremes: both heat and cold can be detrimental to battery health. High temperatures can accelerate the degradation process within the battery, reducing its capacity. On the other hand, cold temperatures can limit the battery’s ability to deliver power, although this is usually temporary and the battery will recover once it warms up.
  • Age: like all things, batteries age. Over time, the chemical composition within the battery deteriorates, leading to a natural decline in capacity.

Woman outdoors using her mobile phone

How to optimize your battery usage

Adjust screen brightness

Your screen might be beautiful, but it’s also a battery hog. Lowering the brightness even a notch can make a surprising difference. You may also want to consider using the auto-brightness setting which can adjust your screen according to ambient light. Just bear in mind that while handy, manually setting the brightness to a lower level can save more power.

Manage your apps

We all have those apps that silently lurk in the background, draining your battery without you even knowing. To identify these, check your battery usage settings, but think twice before you force-quit everything – some essential apps might need to run in the background. But do get in the habit of swiping away unused apps from your recent apps menu. Also, update your apps regularly since these often include optimizations for better battery usage and can help improve performance and efficiency.

Update your software regularly

Software updates may include optimizations and bug fixes that can improve battery performance. Think of them as tiny tweaks that help your phone run smoother and more efficiently, leading to better battery life. While it might seem like a hassle to install updates, the benefits for your battery and overall phone performance are worth it.

Silence the extras

Features like Bluetooth, location services and Wi-Fi are incredibly useful, but they can also be battery hungry, especially when you’re not actively using them. Make it a habit to disable these features when you don’t need them. For example, turn off Bluetooth when you’re not using headphones and disable location services for apps that don’t require your physical location. Most phones allow you to quickly toggle these settings through the notification panel or control center.

Optimal charging practices to extend battery life

  • Ditch the deep discharge: letting your phone die completely can stress the battery so aim to top up before it dips below 20%. Think of it as giving your battery a little reserve, like keeping some gas in the tank of your car.Don’t fear the partial charge: contrary to popular belief, topping up your battery throughout the day with smaller charges is actually better than letting it completely drain and then charging it to 100% since partial cycles are less stressful on the battery.
  • 80 is the new 100: you might be tempted to charge your phone all the way, but stopping at 80% is an excellent way to preserve battery health. Many phones now have built-in features to limit the maximum charge level so take advantage of them.
  • Manage charging time: if you know you’ll have your phone plugged in overnight, consider enabling optimized battery charging features on your phone. These will intelligently learn your charging habits and hold off on reaching 100% until just before you wake up, reducing the time your phone spends at full charge.
  • Use the right charger: sticking with the charger that came with your phone or a certified replacement from the manufacturer is the safest and most reliable way to keep your battery happy and healthy. In contrast, using an incompatible charger with a different voltage can overload the battery, which in turn can shorten the lifespan of your battery and reduce its capacity.
  • Temperature matters: avoid charging your phone in direct sunlight or leaving it in a hot car. Likewise, try not to use it heavily while it’s charging, as this can also generate heat.

When to replace your battery

Even with TLC, all batteries eventually need to be swapped. If you find yourself constantly reaching for the charger it might be time for a replacement. Another telltale sign is unexpected shutdowns or sluggish performance, even when the battery meter shows charge remaining. Just make sure to look for authorized repair centers or certified technicians who use genuine batteries when considering a replacement.
Should you replace the battery or ditch the phone altogether? Without a doubt, the former choice is often a more economical option than buying a new phone, especially if your device is otherwise functioning well. However, if your phone is significantly outdated or has other hardware problems, a new phone might be a better long-term investment.

Bonus Tip: Don’t forget the power of the power saving mode. Most phones come with this built-in, which works by reducing performance but extending battery life. It’s a lifesaver when you’re low on battery and just need to make that one important call.

Person holding a mobile phone

Got more questions? Here are some frequently asked ones:

1. Are fast chargers damaging to my phone’s battery?

Fast chargers can be convenient, but they do generate more heat than standard chargers. While occasional use is unlikely to cause major damage, it’s best to rely on them sparingly.

2. Can wireless charging affect my phone’s battery lifespan?

Wireless charging uses a different technology than traditional wired charging, but it shouldn’t significantly impact your battery health if used properly. Just like with wired charging, avoid using it in extreme temperatures. The best practice is to place your phone on the wireless pad and avoid picking it up constantly to check on it as this can generate heat.

3. Is it better to turn off my phone overnight or leave it in sleep mode?

Sleep mode is designed to conserve battery while still allowing essential functions like notifications to run. Turning your phone off might seem like the ultimate battery saver, but the constant restarting can actually use more battery in the long run.

Future-proofing your phone is about taking proactive steps to manage battery life and enhance overall performance. By following these practical tips, you can ensure that your device remains in top-notch condition, saving you time and money in the long run.

For more smartphone-related tips and tricks, take a look at how to boost your mobile’s speed or how to secure your smartphone. And if you’re looking to buy a new device, here are top factors to consider when buying a new mobile and our range of mobile phones.