Charging your phone should be easy — just plug it in and forget about it. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of bad advice out there that is actually doing more harm than good.
Let’s debunk it, shall well?
First, a note about exploding phones: Almost all smartphones these days use lithium-ion batteries, and yes, those batteries have been known to blow up occasionally. The thing is, the dangerous batteries — at least in the widely publicized case of the Samsung Galaxy Note7 — were a result of too-small battery cases and manufacturing problems.
In other words, it’s not that all cellphone batteries are inherently fire-prone. Properly produced lithium-ion batteries should not burn a literal hole in your pocket. OK, now that we have that out of the way, let’s get to it.
Myth 1: Charging your phone overnight is bad
Well, no. Cellphones these days are awfully smart (they don’t call them “smartphones” for nothing). That means that unlike some hoverboards, the phone knows when its battery is at full charge. When it reaches that point, it stops charging.
Pretty neat, huh? This thankfully prevents overcharging and any associated damage. So feel free to leave your digital companion plugged in overnight.
Myth 2: Charge your battery all the way up and allow it to drain all the way down
Yeah, don’t do this. Lithium-ion batteries are not the same as what you use to power your television remote, and fully charging them on first use only to let them drain all the way isn’t required to maintain battery life.
Not only does the so-called “memory effect” not really apply to the batteries in your laptop and smartphone, but trying to calibrate them like you would an old-school nickel–metal hydride battery is actually bad for them.
So feel free to charge your battery whenever you see fit, even in fits and starts.
Myth 3: Don’t use your phone while it’s charging
No one likes being electrocuted, and with that in mind some have suggested that it’s unsafe to use a phone if it’s plugged into the wall. This, like the other myths discussed here, isn’t true. While a woman did die in Australia in 2014 while using a phone that was plugged in, authorities believe her cheap USB charger was to blame.
Playing with your phone while it is plugged in is totally safe — just so long as you don’t use a knockoff charger (and are not in a bathtub).
Myth 4: All chargers are created equal
It brings electricity to your phone, so just how much variation can there be? Quite a lot, it turns out.
In addition to being a safety hazard, counterfeit chargers just don’t work as well as brand-name ones. Integrated circuit expert Ken Shirriff took a deep dive into various chargers on the market and found numerous fakes masquerading as Apple chargers. These, essentially, are a fire hazard and they do a garbage job of getting power to your phone.
It is important to note that reputable off-brand chargers can be a good buy. Digmodo recommends brands like Belkin, Vinsic, RAVPower, Powergen and Anker.
The takeaway? Stay away from counterfeits. Buy a name-brand charger directly from a manufacturer’s website or a legit off-brand. Your phone will charge faster, and your charger will be less likely to melt into the wall.
Myth 5: Leaving your phone on 24/7 is no big deal
Most people keep their phones on all the time, and only turn their pocket-computer off when something has gone wrong. This is not a good idea. You smartphone needs to be rebooted every now and then, and not doing so is detrimental to the lifespan of your battery.
But don’t worry about missing those late-night booty calls — you don’t need to turn your phone off every night. Rather, aim for rebooting it at least once a week. For an added bonus, this can also help your device’s performance.
Myth 6: Location services are killing your battery
Running apps that require using your location data would seem to be a battery drainer, right? Not as much as you’d think, argues Android Authority.
It turns out that these services do hit your battery, but not in the life-ending way we all assumed. Sure, doing something like putting your phone into airplane mode is going to extend battery life, but it also defeats the purpose of having a phone (you know, texting and making phone calls). Basically, if you want to use your location services, go ahead and do so. It’s not going to totally mess up your battery life.
Getting the most out of your battery
We all want a phone battery that never dies, and the above tips and tricks will help you get a little closer to that dream. Unfortunately, until those solid-state batteries come along, we’re likely stuck with lithium-ion. So make the most of your newfound knowledge, or just go ahead and buy a battery pack. Either way, your battery will thank you.