VERIFY: Best way to charge your phone battery

KARE 11 viewer asked is it true that you should let your phone battery drain down completely before recharging it? Our VERIFY team gets the answer. 

QUESTION: Is it true that you should let your cellphone battery drain down completely before recharging it?

If you’re among the few who doubt the “charge” we get out of our mobile devices, consider this fact: Nearly two billion new smart phones, tablets and laptops shipped worldwide last year. That’s one new device for every four people on the planet – and on top of the billions already in use.

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Perhaps that’s why some of us obsess over how to best keep our gadgets powered up between charges, including one KARE 11 viewer who asked our VERIFY team to uncover some best practices for extending battery life.

For help, we turned to Geek Squad agent Derek Meister from Best Buy.

One misconception, he says, is that mobile devices should be fully charged, then drained completely, before going back on the charger. True? False? Or something in between?

Turns out that is FALSE. That wasn’t always the case. But the batteries that power most modern mobile devices have improved dramatically and better match our always-on-the-go lifestyles.

Meister also offers this advice:

1. Avoid letting battery get too low. Keep charged to 50 percent or more.
2. Avoid letting charge drop below 10 to 20 percent.
3. Most newer devices will shut down if a charge approaches damaging levels.
4. Continuous charging on a full charge can shorten battery life.

Still, nothing lasts forever. No matter how careful you are, you’ll likely notice your smart phone or tablet’s ability to hold a charge diminishes significantly after about two years.


Derek Meister, Geek Squad Agent


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More Q & A:

KARE 11: Our viewer has “always heard” you always need to charge your battery all the way up, and use it until it's dead before recharging. True or not true?

Meister: With older nickel-cadmium or nickel-metal hydride batteries, owners may have noticed that batteries partially charged frequently would eventually lose their maximum energy capacity. With current battery tech, this is no longer true. So, if your phone is only at 23%, it's fine to charge it to 67% in the car while on your commute. But just in case, consider buying a portable battery pack, which is a larger battery that you can charge other devices from while on the go.

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KARE 11: Should users tailor their charging methods to the device? In other words, charge one way for a cell phone and other ways for laptops and tablets?

Meister: The technology behind rechargeable batteries and how to charge them is surprisingly similar across most mobile devices, from cell phones to laptops. It's really more of a difference between battery size and the power adapter designed to push a charge onto it within a reasonable time frame. As always, consult your device's manual or manufacturer's support page for any instructions specific to your device.

KARE 11: Will the battery eventually wear out? If so, how many charges will it typically last through?

Meister: Just like a mobile device’s battery, a laptop’s battery will degrade over time. Typically, devices that are two-years-old or older have significantly less battery life than they used to.

KARE 11: Is there a danger of overcharging if I leave my laptop or other device plugged in when not in use.

Meister: Leaving a laptop plugged in when it is fully charged can wear out the battery, ultimately shortening battery life.

KARE 11: What about higher voltage, faster chargers on the market. Might they damage my device?

Meister: As with most products, it's important to be sure any specialized charger is designed to work with your specific device. The device's manual or manufacturer support page will normally contain this information or you can consult with a Geek Squad Agent or Best Buy Tablet, Laptop or Mobile associate. Most modern mobile devices will monitor the incoming power transmission to help protect themselves if there is a problem. That said, I recommend steering clear of any unknown brands and sticking with those you trust. A power adapter pushing electricity into your device that may have cost you hundreds of dollars isn't something to cheap-out on over a few dollars.