Mobile Battery Life Explained

Date Posted:30 January 2013 

Modern mobile phones all use a rechargeable lithium-ion battery of one type or another.
Lithium-ion batteries are used in mobiles because:

  • They provide the best energy density (energy per unit mass)
  • They have no memory effect (the inability to hold a full charge)
  • They have a slow charge loss rate when not in use.

Even though lithium-ion batteries are the best available for mobile phones, they have failed to keep pace with smartphone energy requirements, meaning the average battery life is less than desirable.

How long your charge lasts will obviously depend on how much you use your phone and what applications you use, but an average battery with average use will usually require recharging on a daily basis. With that in mind, there are quite a number of things you can do to get the most out of your portable power supply, not only between charges, but also between replacement batteries.

Between charges

Because mobile batteries run down so quickly due to the high energy demands of smartphones, it is important to conserve battery life during daily use. Ways to do this include:

  • Turn it off when not in use. Turn it off overnight and also when you are in areas where there is no signal, as the phone will go on searching for one, draining your battery.
  • Disable power-hungry features when not in use, such as email checking, Bluetooth, GPS and apps that may be constantly trying to download data without your knowledge.
  • Keep your phone at room temperature. Don’t leave it in your pocket or in the car on hot days, as high temperatures drain battery life.
  • Turn down the screen backlighting and ringtone volume to conserve battery life.

Between replacements

As well as your phone, the way you treat your battery will determine the length of time it lasts before needing to be replaced. A lithium-ion battery loses around 10 per cent of its useful capacity every year, whether it is used or not, but you can prolong its life span in the following ways:

  • Fully charge (initialise) a new battery for five to six hours before using it for the first time.
  • Store your spare battery in a sealed container in the fridge at 40 per cent discharge, and leave it to sit at room temperature for an hour before using it.
  • Never let your battery drain completely before recharging. Recharge when it still has one bar left on the meter of your portable phone charger.
  • Clean the battery contacts periodically with nail polish remover and a Q-tip to remove corrosion build-up, which reduces battery life.
  • Avoid dropping your phone or treating it in a rough manner, as this could not only damage your phone, but shorten your battery’s life as well.

While battery improvements are currently lagging behind smartphone technology, there will no doubt come a time when a new mobile phone battery emerges on the market, capable of delivering ample power for long periods of mobile use. In the meantime, observing the few simple measures described here will help you get the most out of your lithium-ion battery, by prolonging its daily charge time and extending its overall lifespan.