April 17, 2018

Is it ok to charge my phone while I sleep?

By Team Ventev Topic: Tech Specs

We use our phones from the time we wake up in the morning until our head hits the pillow at night.

For a lot of us, bedtime is our best opportunity to get the battery back to 100 percent.

But, is that really good for our phones?

Most of us have heard conflicting advice. Time Magazine says you should never charge at night. Business Insider says it’s perfectly fine. The New York Times weighs in with a “maybe.”

All three are looking at the same information and coming to slightly different conclusions. But, they agree on more than the headlines let on.
That said, charging a phone overnight on a regular basis can reduce a battery’s lifespan a teeny bit, but it’s unclear if most people would notice until they’ve had the phone for a couple of years.

How phone batteries lose capacity over time

Let’s start with the idea that smartphone batteries don’t last forever. They can only be charged a limited number of times before they won’t work anymore. This is measured in charge cycles. Here’s how Apple defines a charge cycle:

“You complete one charge cycle when you’ve used (discharged) an amount that equals 100% of your battery’s capacity — but not necessarily all from one charge. For instance, you might use 75% of your battery’s capacity one day, then recharge it fully overnight. If you use 25% the next day, you will have discharged a total of 100%, and the two days will add up to one charge cycle. It could take several days to complete a cycle.”

The typical smartphone battery has about 400 charge cycles – which adds up to a couple years of use for normal consumers. After that, the battery’s performance declines. You can check how many charge cycles you’ve used on your phone through an app, like AccuBattery for Android operating systems. In Apple phones use the Battery Health feature in iOS 11.3, just go to Settings → Battery → Battery Health.

Your phone’s battery is always deteriorating, like a slow-melting ice cream cone, from the first time you go through a charge cycle. It’s just so minuscule that the typical user likely won’t notice a difference for a couple years.

If you tend to use your phone heavily, and churn through battery power by watching videos, then you can expect to need a new battery or a new phone sooner than someone who uses their phone less.

Charging your phone overnight: How harmful is it?

That leads us to the question of what happens to your battery if you charge overnight.

When your phone reaches 100 percent, it stops charging, but only for a bit. Your phone continues to search for email or perform its regular backups, which burns maybe a percentage worth of battery power. To top back up to 100, the phone will request a tiny amount of power from the charger.

Now that tiny power request does add to the charge cycle, but modern batteries have power management systems, so don’t split hairs counting the minuscule percentages that add up during overnight charging.

If you’re looking for other tips on how to keep a battery alive longer, go here.

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