What the Tech: The best time to charge your phone

It’s the age-old question: when is the best time to charge a phone?
Few things these days are more frustrating than a dead smartphone battery.
Published: Dec. 8, 2022 at 1:33 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Few things these days are more frustrating than a dead smartphone battery. You probably know that as a smartphone ages, the battery doesn’t last as long as it used to.

But you can also damage the battery by doing something we all do every day.

Most of us do it: put our phone on the charger right when we go to bed. It’s convenient because your battery will be fully charged when you wake up, but it can damage the battery.

Here’s why

Most batteries’ lifespan is measured in charge cycles. Apple says its iPhone batteries have about 500 charging cycles before you notice a big difference. If you charge it when it hits 50%, that’s half a charge. The next time will make a full charge. That’s true for other phones because they all use the same battery technology.

Overnight a phone stops charging when it hits 100%. At some point, it’ll drop to 99% and then charge again.

This is called ‘battery trickle.’

Over time, theoretically, it’ll make up a few charge cycles.

iPhones have a feature to prevent battery trickle by learning when you go to sleep and when you wake up. You can see in the graph, my phone charged to 80% about an hour after I put it on charge at bedtime. Between 4 and 5 a.m., just before I woke up, it finished the charge to 100%.

You should check to make sure this is turned on in the battery settings.

Android phones do not have this feature, but you can turn on “battery optimization” which closes programs you’re not using. iPads don’t have the feature either, meaning battery trickle affects those devices.

So, what’s the best practice? Charge your phone to 100% before going to bed and do not keep it on charge overnight. The fact is, if you’re upgrading your phone every 2 years, charge it however you like. Chances are you won’t notice much of a difference before you get a new phone.

Apple and Samsung say to make the battery last longer, put it on charge when it reaches about 35% full.

You should never let the phone die completely before charging it. Extreme temperatures can also damage the battery and shorten its life span.

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