As mobile phone users, all we want is enough battery life to last the day. Frustratingly, the older the device, the less power it seems to have.
In fact, the amount of battery life our mobiles have on any given day depends on two key factors: how we use them on that particular day, and how we used them in the past.
Mobile phones use lithium-ion batteries for energy storage. In this type of battery, lithium metal and lithium ions move in and out of individual electrodes, causing them to physically expand and contract.
Read more: Do you know where your batteries come from?
Unfortunately, these processes are not completely reversible and the batteries lose their charge capacity and voltage as the number of charge and discharge cycles grows.
To make matters worse, the electrolyte (electrically conductive liquid) that connects the electrodes also degrades throughout these cycles.
The ability of lithium-ion batteries to store charge depends on the extent of their degradation. This means there is a link between how we handle our devices today and the charge capacity available in the future.
Through a few simple steps, users can minimise this degradation and extend their device’s life.
Strategies for extending battery capacity
Control battery discharge
Typical lithium-ion batteries for mobile phones are supposed to retain 80% of their charge capacity after 300-500 charge/discharge cycles. However, batteries rarely produce this level of performance, with charge storage capacity sometimes reduced to 80% levels within only 100 cycles.
Fortunately, we can extend our future battery capacity by limiting how much we discharge our mobile phone batteries. With most battery degradation occurring during deep discharge/charge cycles, it is actually better to limit the battery discharge during any one cycle before charging it again.