Technology is a part of modern life, and that means lithium-ion batteries are too. They’re the engine that powers your iPhone, tablet, laptop, or electric vehicle. Although modern batteries provide an incredible amount of power in a small package, they have their limits. In fact, each time you use a battery, it degrades a little bit. But while slight performance losses are inevitable, with the right strategies you can extend the life of your tech.
The best way to take care of your battery is to understand how it works. Here’s what you should know about how you’re charging your battery.
Modern lithium-ion batteries generally have batteries rated for 300-500 charge cycles. After approximately that many charges, the battery will have about 80% of its former capacity. But what’s a charge cycle?
A charge cycle is one full use of a battery. So, starting out the day with an iPhone at 100% charge and ending it at 0% is one full charge cycle. You can’t get around this with frequent charging. For example, if you drain a battery down to 25% on one day, recharge it to 100%, then drain it to 75% the next day, that is still one charge cycle.
If you happen to have a MacBook you can use this official Apple method to check how many charge cycles your computer has been through.
You should also avoid letting your battery run all the way to 0%. With older nickel-cadmium batteries, consumers were advised to charge their device to 100% and then run it to 0%. Failure to let it run to 0% could harm the health of the battery. Just as consumers started to get used to this battery advice, everything changed.
Letting today’s lithium-ion batteries run to 0% too often can actually be harmful in the long term. Instead, you want to charge the battery before it hits 20%. If you’re wondering if your laptop or smartphone is powered by lithium-ion batteries, you can rest assured that in almost all cases, it is. They’re used to power everything from cell phones to iPads to Teslas.
The new iPhone 8, iPhone 8+, and iPhone X all include quick charge technology which is also present on many Android devices. Quick charging allows you to partially charge your phone extremely quickly. On iPhone you can charge from 0% to 50% in only 30 minutes if you plug into a powerful USB-C charger.
Quick charge works because extra energy is released into the battery, giving you extra juice fast. However, this leads to quicker degradation. But don’t worry too much. Most phone users will probably prefer the benefits of quick charge over the extra time spent waiting to charge the phone more slowly.
Many modern cell phones also include wireless charging. All you do is place your phone on a charging surface and it’ll start to charge. However, this process is slower than charging with a cable and also creates extra heat. The extra heat leads to extra wear and tear on your battery while charging, so if you’re paranoid about keeping your battery healthy, you’ll want to avoid it. But again, casual users will probably not notice the difference.
There are a lot of little things you can do to lengthen your charge, like dimming your screen, shortening the screen timeout, or limiting vibrations. But what you do every day with your phone – browse the web – might be bad in more ways than one if you aren’t doing it right.
Ads might seem harmless, even if they are a little annoying. Not so. In fact, those pop-up ads are draining your phone or laptop and destroying its battery life. Lifehacker claims that blocking mobile ads “can reduce battery drain by up to 50%.”
What are the best ways to block ads? On your laptop you can use a free browser add-on like Ghostery. It’s simple to set up, and will block ads which are killing your battery and wasting data. There are also iOS and Android versions of Ghostery. Other good mobile options include BlockBear and Firefox Focus.
Blocking ads can also keep companies from tracking you and protect against harmful malware, so there are added benefits.
Fundamentally, technology is meant to enable you to do more in life, not less. There’s no point in obsessing over your cellphone battery life and missing out on the benefits of technology like apps that help you meditate, or dating apps that help you find love.
And while nothing can keep your battery life perfect forever, making a few changes like charging your phone before it hits 20%, blocking ads, and automatically adjusting your screen brightness can go a long way toward preserving your battery.