Watching the charge level drop on your cell phone can be a stressful situation, especially if you’re nowhere near an outlet.
If you’ve had your cell phone for a while, you may notice it loses charge quicker than usual. This is a sign that the cell phone battery is degrading.
Measuring the life of a cell phone battery is tricky because it relates to the charge cycle rather than a period of time. A battery charged twice a day won’t last as long as a battery charged weekly.
The average cell phone battery will stay at full capacity through 300 to 800 charge cycles. That could be between one and five years.
In this guide, we cover everything you need to know about cell phone batteries, including how to make them last longer.
What Are The Types Of Cell Phone Batteries?
There are two types of cell phone batteries commonly used today. These are lithium-ion batteries and lithium polymer batteries. Most cell phones come equipped with a lithium-ion battery, although some brands do use lithium polymer batteries.
There are advantages and disadvantages to both batteries, and the type does affect the longevity of the battery. Below, we’ll provide a quick rundown of the battery types and the basic differences.
Lithium-ion Batteries (Li-Ion)
The lithium-ion battery, or li-ion, is a relatively old technology, and the first type of battery used in smartphones. It’s known for being low maintenance, and easy to use.
They have a high energy density, last for a decent amount of time, and give off a relatively low level of self-discharge.
However, compared to a lithium polymer battery, the level of self-discharge is high.
A lithium-ion battery also needs only a single charge to start working, so very little priming is required.
Chemically, the lithium-ion battery is very similar to the lithium polymer battery. The difference is found in the separator, which is the material in which the ions move between electrodes.
A li-ion battery requires a metal casing and active protective circuit, which is used to keep the battery cool. Without this, your cell phone could become dangerously heated, and even catch on fire.
The advantages of a lithium-ion battery are the ease of use and relatively long life through a charge cycle. One disadvantage is the weight. Another is the shorter overall life span.
Lithium Polymer (LiPo)
The lithium-polymer battery is an advancement of the lithium-ion battery.
Due to the composition of a LiPo battery, they have no memory effect and therefore won’t heat up. This removes the need for the metal casing, for a lighter and more portable charging solution.
The self-discharge level of lithium polymer batteries is lower than that of lithium-ion batteries. They also weigh less and can come in different shapes.
However, a lithium polymer battery is more expensive and has a shorter shelf life.
If you want to find out what type of battery your cell phone is using, it will be printed on the battery itself, or in the user manual. This is useful if you want to know the best way to preserve battery life.
The majority of cell phones use lithium-ion batteries, so we’ll focus on them in this guide.
What Is The Average Cell Phone Battery Life Expectancy?
The first thing you need to be aware of is that the life of a cell phone battery isn’t measured in years or days. Instead, it’s very much dependent on usage and charge cycles.
A cell phone user who regularly needs to charge will find their battery loses health much faster than someone who needs only an occasional top-up.
How long your cell phone battery lasts depends on how many times it goes through a charge cycle. A charge cycle refers to the battery going from 100% to 0%, and back to 100%.
It’s important to note that a charge cycle isn’t just from 0% to 100%. If a phone is charged from 80% to 90%, this still chips away at the charge cycle.
After 300 to 800 charge cycles, your cell phone is likely to have only 80% of its battery capacity remaining. This is why a phone battery may only last for a year at full health.
Once your phone has been through the charge cycle 800 to 1200 times, then the battery capacity might be only 50%. As you continue to use the phone, the battery will continue to degrade further.
After 2,500 charge cycles, the battery may be completely unusable.
It’s worth noting that the problem will exacerbate itself. As the capacity diminishes, the cell phone will require more regular charges.
That increases how often the battery goes through a charge cycle. A battery with only 80% capacity will need to be charged more frequently, further reducing the capacity.
Overall, a cell phone battery has a life of one to five years. After that, a diminished capacity will render it unusable.
How To Keep Your Cell Phone Battery Healthy For Longer
A bad battery can cause all kinds of issues in an otherwise healthy phone. To keep your phone battery healthier for longer, then consider these tips and tricks:
- Be careful with your charging cycle. It’s far too easy to fall into the habit of putting your phone to charge any time the battery starts to dip low. However, by not keeping on top of your charging cycle, you could be causing your battery damage. Before you try and optimize your battery health, you have to start paying attention to how you charge.
- Don’t let your phone run out of battery. It’s a longstanding myth that it’s good to let your phone battery empty before charging to full. This will put strain on your battery, and cause damage in the long run.
- Charge between 20% and 80%. Or 40% and 80% if you can. This is the charging sweet spot. Try not to let your battery dip below 20%, and unplug once it’s charged to 80%. If you do charge up to 100%, don’t leave your phone plugged in fully charged. No more overnight charges.
- Turn off features that drain your battery life fast. The best way to keep your battery lasting for longer is to avoid charging frequently. Rather than letting your battery die, turn off settings that are draining the battery.
- For example, vibration and keyboard sounds are often unnecessary, and only reduce the battery level. Switch to a dark mode, and keep your screen brightness low.
- Uninstall (or reduce usage) of apps that use a lot of power. It may be an app you consider important to your day-to-day life or a game you play to pass the time. We all have those apps that require an unexpectedly large power input. Check your settings to see which apps are putting a strain on your battery, and consider uninstalling.
- Avoid using your phone while it’s charging. This can be difficult to achieve, but avoid using your phone too much once it’s plugged in. It can mess with the charging cycle, and cause problems in the future.
- Mind the temperature. The best temperature for your phone is room temperature, so avoid leaving it anywhere too hot or too cold. Culprits can be the sun spot on your dashboard, cold lockers, and sunny tables.
Even with the best care possible, the health of your cell phone battery will start to degrade. However, with these tricks, you can keep your battery in good condition for longer.
Many of these tips are easy to incorporate into your routine and require just a little extra thought and care.
Can You Check The Health Of Your Cell Phone Battery?
To understand how long your phone battery is likely to last, and to understand how to better prolong its life, it’s helpful to check the current battery capacity. This can either be done on the phone itself or via a separate app.
iPhone users can check the capacity of the battery via settings. Tap Settings, then Battery, and then Battery Health. This will provide information on the capacity and performance of the battery.
iPhone users can also use the Battery section of Settings to display information on how the battery is used. This is helpful to see what apps may be draining the battery, and what are the peak times for battery usage.
Some Android phones also allow you to check the battery capacity. Again, this is under Settings, then Battery, then Battery Usage.
There are also apps that can be used to monitor battery health. AccuBattery is a popular choice. This can provide plenty of statistics relating to your battery capacity. It’s designed to prolong the life of your battery.
Other apps to consider are Battery Monitor, and Battery Guru.
How Do You Know When Your Cell Phone Battery Needs Replacing?
The health of your cell phone battery is likely to slowly degrade, rather than die all at once. You will often know when to replace your battery because the time between charging cycles has become incredibly short.
Over time, most cell phone users will have noticed the phone doesn’t stay charged as long as it used to. This is the first sign that the battery is losing capacity.
Once you’ve owned and used your phone for over a year, the time between charges will become shorter and shorter. The battery capacity has become reduced, so even a full charge provides less power than before.
Second, you might find that the phone no longer reaches 100% battery, no matter how long you charge.
Most signs of a degrading battery are frustrating, rather than harmful. However, if you find your battery gets hot even when it isn’t charging, it should be replaced right away. Similarly, if your battery starts bulging, that’s a sign it’s no longer safe to use.
For many of us, it will be obvious that the battery needs replacing because the reduced charge makes the phone difficult to work. Use an app, or the in-built battery health checker, to see the capacity. If the capacity is reduced, then the health of the battery is degrading, and you should seek a replacement.
Can You Replace Your Cell Phone Battery?
It is possible to replace your cell phone battery, and this can be a low-cost way to prolong the health of the phone. Although you may be able to replace the battery yourself, it’s often better to have your battery serviced.
A cell phone battery may cost between $25 and $100. The price will depend on the make of the phone, the battery type used, and how difficult the replacement is.
If your cell phone has a removable battery, you may be able to make the change at home. Look for a refurbished battery – a second-hand battery – to keep costs even lower.
However, most batteries are built-in nowadays. In that case, costs will be higher, and you may need to leave your phone in service. This will cost more.
Replacing your battery can be a low-cost way to extend the life of your cell phone. However, an older phone may have other problems, such as memory, that won’t be fixed with a simple battery replacement.
Although we do recommend considering battery replacement, remember that it isn’t always the right option.
How Do You Safely Dispose Of An Old Cell Phone Battery?
An old cell phone battery should never be put in the trash. Lithium-ion batteries are dangerous, and can potentially catch on fire. A lithium-ion battery should always be taken to a suitable recycling facility.
Your household recycling may have an option for recycling hazardous waste, but in most cases, the battery should be disposed of at a designated recycling facility.
A lithium-ion battery can be recycled and refurbished. Look online or in cell phone stores for a recycling program. In some cases, you may be compensated for your old battery.
Whatever you choose to do, never throw the battery in the trash.
Can You Replace A Cell Phone Battery At Home?
It can be possible to replace a cell phone battery at home, but it’s rarely a good idea. Many batteries are built-in, and choosing the right replacement can be difficult. If you get it wrong, you may render your cell phone unusable.
Cell phone batteries can be purchased online, and you may find them for sale in cell phone stores as well. If your battery can be easily removed from the phone, buying a replacement should be simple. You can check it’s the exact right model, and the replacement process is usually quick.
However, for a built-in battery, it’s better to have your cell phone serviced. This may be covered by your warranty, or come at an additional cost.
Do Power Banks Damage Cell Phone Batteries?
A power bank has become a necessary piece of equipment for a long day out, and many of us rely on them for a speedy extra charge. A power bank shouldn’t damage your battery, provided you’re using the right voltage.
Always purchase a power bank from a trusted seller, and check for a compatible voltage.
Although using a power bank will count as a charge cycle, it shouldn’t cause additional damage to the cell phone battery.
Do Magnets Damage Cell Phone Batteries?
Most magnets won’t damage your cell phone battery. A magnet can affect the voltage supply, but household magnets aren’t strong enough to cause a problem. Even strong household magnets don’t have the power to damage batteries.
A large magnetic field can damage your cell phone battery, but you’re very unlikely to have one in your home.
In most cases, when you come across a magnet this powerful, you’ll be instructed to leave your phone behind. For example, if you had to have an MRI, you wouldn’t be able to take your cell phone in with you.
Even the best cared for cell phone battery will eventually lose capacity, although correct usage can prolong its lifespan. The average cell phone battery will last between 1 and 5 years, depending on how often you charge.
To prolong cell phone battery life, be careful with how you charge. Your battery won’t last forever, but you may get another year of decent usage.