There are numerous questions people always have about smartphone batteries whenever they purchase a new smartphone. Is it okay to leave the smartphone plugged in overnight? Would it damage the smartphone? Is it bad for safety? How much to charge the phone? Should you only charge once the phone is down to 0%?
The questions are endless. The biggest debate is among people who argue whether or not it is okay to charge your smartphone overnight.
For years, this myth has persisted that charging your smartphone overnight while sleeping can harm your phone’s battery. Even though the majority of the people do it today, others continue warning that if you charge your phone this way, you will waste away its battery capacity.
While these fears could have made sense a few years ago, such claims are overblown today. To understand more about this myth, you should know how a smartphone battery works.
How do smartphone batteries work?
Most smartphones these days rely on lithium-ion batteries. Such battery cells have two different electrodes with one being graphite and the other being lithium cobalt oxide. There is a liquid electrolyte in between them and it allows the lithium ions to freely move between the electrodes. Once you start charging, these ions go from the positive end (lithium cobalt oxide) to the negative end (graphite), and when the phone is getting discharged (battery is being consumed), they move in the opposite direction.
A smartphone’s battery is typically rated in cycles. For instance, the iPhone battery retains around 80% of its original capacity after completing 500 cycles. A charge cycle is defined as using up the whole 100% of your battery’s capacity though it doesn’t have to be in one go from 100% to 0%. It could also be 60% in one day, then you charge your phone overnight, and then use 40% the next day. This will be registered as one complete cycle.
Degradation does occur over time and at some point, the battery becomes unable to hold up the charge. How quickly the battery degrades will depend on several factors but you can minimize the degradation if you treat your battery right.
Can you leave your smartphone plugged into the charger for overnight charging?
This is the most important question that every smartphone user wants the answer to. The simple answer is – YES!
Most smartphones these days are highly advanced and they are capable of recognizing when they are fully charged. Once your device is charged, it stops the incoming current, similar to the way it turns itself off once the lower limit is reached.
According to Daniel Abraham, a senior scientist at the Argonne Laboratory, “You won’t be able to overcharge or over-discharge a cell”.
The idea of fully charging/discharging your smartphone’s battery is made complicated by the fact that most manufacturers set the cut off points differently. They decide what fully empty or fully charged means and they can control how far you can drain or charge your battery.
Debunking common myths regarding charging your smartphone
- Is it dangerous to use your smartphone while charging?
It is okay to use your smartphone while charging. The only difference is that it will take a bit longer to charge completely than usual because instead of using the battery to power whatever you’re doing, it will be using the electricity it is getting from the plug.
- Do smartphones charge faster when they’re turned off?
Turning off your smartphone when it is charging will charging it faster because your smartphone isn’t using the battery or direct power. Any apps that are open in the background while your phone is switched on can sometimes slow down the charging process. Individually, apps don’t consume that much power but if you have 8-10 apps open, they will suck the juice out of your battery quicker than the charging speed.
If your phone is switched off, it will not process or check anything, which means all the electricity coming into your phone is only being used for charging.
- Does charging your smartphone via your PC/laptop damage the battery?
It normally takes longer to charge your smartphone when it is connected to your PC/laptop because the charging speed depends on the cord and the USB cord type your PC/laptop has. Most people still use PC/laptop with USB 2.0, so even with a USB 3.0 charging cable, your phone will still charge slowly. In fact, charging your smartphone from your laptop is slightly better than charging through an outlet as it puts less strain on the lithium-ion battery. Less strain equals a happier battery.