As with most things, nothing lasts—and that applies most especially to smartphone batteries. Those lithium-ion batteries that power your phones are consumables. In other words, they have limited life spans. The longer you use your device, the more the battery decreases in capacity—eventually, it will need to be replaced.
Despite their limited capacities, phone batteries don’t just die out. There are telltale signs that arise over time, which mostly becomes apparent through your phone’s overall performance. Taps and prompts may begin to slow down, or perhaps apps take longer to respond or freezes and crashes altogether. Your phone will also drain more quickly than in the past (leaving you always plugged into power banks, at the very least), never powers up to 100% of shuts down unexpectedly under normal circumstances. It may also feel thicker than normal, which can be an ominous sign of a ruptured battery. Any of these circumstances point to a dead, failing, or even hazardous battery.
To fully understand just how your smartphone batteries work, here are three things you need to know.
1. Your phone battery’s capacity will decrease over time
A smartphone battery, regardless of its manufacturer, does not just die quickly. It doesn’t jump from being at the peak performance and then its worst the next—instead, it degrades slowly over time. This degradation is a gradual process that happens over many charge cycles, and it only becomes apparent when you realize that you get more hours of battery power from a charge. While prolonging battery life is possible, you cannot avoid its degradation forever.
2. Your phone's battery will die slowly and noticeably
As it goes through its life cycle, you’ll begin to notice that your phone will not charge completely. No matter how long you leave it plugged in, power banks and outlets alike, it will never be fully charged simply because it’s not. Over time, your phone will be rendered unable to hold enough electrical energy because the materials inside have already corroded, and this affects the performance.
One of the first warnings signs is losing charge quickly. If you take your phone off from charging, for instance, it will register at 100% but after minutes, it will quickly drop down to 80%. While a battery percentage drop can be relatively normal, anything beyond a 10% drop is a sign of a problem.
3. If you notice your phone swelling or bulge up, stop using it immediately
Your phone gets warm when it charges, especially when you leave in a hotter climate. If you notice your phone getting very hot on and off the charger, or perhaps bulging in the middle, it’s a sign of battery damage—and one that can be dangerous. As soon as you notice this, stop using your phone right away. Since batteries are built-in and work differently from battery packs, it’s best to save yourself the trouble and have it checked by a professional. Unfortunately, the terrifying stories of phone explosions are true, despite the many safety features. Accidents and malfunctions happen, so do not ignore signs of excessive heat or swelling.
Fortunately, these signs will not be apparent for at least 18 months upon your phone purchase, provided that you bought it new. The battery life may be extended through careful care, but it’ll likely last two years since according to the standard length of a carrier contract. As discussed, though, your phone’s battery life won’t last forever—it’s best to remain on your toes through the tips discussed above!
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