Four ways to prolong gadgets' battery life

Lithium-based batteries found in modern gadgets should not be discharged fully before charging, but older, nickel-based ones should.
Lithium-based batteries found in modern gadgets should not be discharged fully before charging, but older, nickel-based ones should.ST PHOTO: SHAHRIYA YAHAYA
Lithium-based batteries found in modern gadgets should not be discharged fully before charging, but older, nickel-based ones should.
Vincent Chang.ST PHOTO: SHAHRIYA YAHAYA

We have all experienced batteries in devices like laptops and smartphones slowly losing their capacity over time. This is because batteries have a certain number of charge cycles, usually between 500 and 1,000, before they start degrading significantly. When this happens, devices have to be charged more often than before.

Readers have asked us how they can prolong the lifespan of their gadget's battery.

Digital writer Vincent Chang offers some tips on keeping your battery in tip-top condition.

AVOID FULLY DISCHARGING YOUR BATTERY

Older devices use nickel-based batteries that lose their capacity if they are not fully discharged before charging. But the opposite is true for the lithium-based batteries used in modern gadgets. Fully discharging a lithium battery is bad for it.

Instead, you should charge devices soon after letting their battery run down. According to the website Battery University, it is best to charge the battery after it drains to about 50 per cent.

But you may want to fully discharge the battery occasionally (once a month) to keep it calibrated, which lets the gadget estimate the remaining amount of battery life accurately.

UNPLUG YOUR GADGET WHEN IT IS FULLY CHARGED

Lithium batteries will degrade in capacity when they are kept at a high charge voltage. Therefore, it is advisable to remove your gadget from the charger when it is fully charged. For laptops that generate a lot of heat, it is recommended that you remove the battery if you plan to keep it plugged into the power socket. This is because high temperatures will reduce the battery's lifespan.

KEEP YOUR GADGETS COOL

Batteries do not fare well in warm environments and will suffer from capacity loss. It is best to keep your gadgets at room temperature and avoid leaving them in a car out in the sun.

STORE YOUR GADGETS WITH 50 PER CENT CHARGE

If you intend to store your battery or gadget for more than six months, you should ensure that it has at least 50 per cent charge. Storing it at full charge will shorten the battery lifespan while storing it at zero charge may lead to the battery becoming unusable.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 23, 2016, with the headline 'Four ways to prolong gadgets' battery life'. Print Edition | Subscribe