What’s the optimum way to charge your iPhone?

“What’s the optimum way to charge your phone?” Simon Hill asks for Digital Trends.

“‘The sweet spot for Lithium-ion batteries is to keep them charged between 50 and 80 percent. This allows for the charged ions to continue to work and protect the life of your battery,’ says Shane Broesky, co-founder of Farbe Technik, a company that makes charging accessories. ‘Charging your device in short spurts throughout the day will give these ions just enough energy to keep them going,'” Hill reports.

“So frequent top ups, rather than one daily charge up is healthier for your battery,” Hill reports. “It’s not convenient, but that’s the optimal way to charge your smartphone if you want to ensure the longest life possible… ‘Try to avoid going from 0 to 100 percent whenever possible, this will start to break down your battery and give your device a shorter lifespan.’ Shane suggests.”

Much more in the full article here.

28 Comments

  1. Interesting. Having a had the same compulsive-like habit of charging to 100% and running down to zero ever since owning the original iPod touch, a rethink is in order. It may not feel right for the first little while but if it ensues a better battery performance and longevity then why not?

    1. Oh wow… Whatever you do, don’t do that! There’s an approximate limit on the amount of charge cycles a battery can take. Going from 0% to 100% is one full cycle. 90% to 100%, then 50% to 100%, 60% to 100% is also one cycle.

      It’s WAY more important and easier to pull off with laptops. Basically leave it plugged it as much as possible since that’s usually easy. I’ve seen people that purposely let their laptop run on battery power until it’s practically dead then charge it. Several times per day! It’s like they want to buy new batteries or something. Plus most of them don’t realize that their settings are such that will decrease performance while on battery power, and the whole time the power charger is sitting near by.

      Just charge your stuff whenever possible. Life becomes so much easier.

      1. Thanks for the comment but it seems that practice of charging the Apple iPhone battery is incorrect (for health & longevity of the battery). According to Apple’s site – which McKinlay quoted below – a full battery cycle is 100%, be it from 100% to zero or from 60% of one charge to 60% of the next charge.

        “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.”

        I agree with you to plug it in whenever, a practice I’ll probably take up from now on.

  2. From Apple:

    http://www.apple.com/batteries/why-lithium-ion/

    “Charge your Apple lithium-ion battery whenever you want. There’s no need to let it discharge 100% before recharging. Apple lithium-ion batteries work in charge cycles. 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 capacity of any type of battery will diminish after a certain amount of recharging. With lithium-ion batteries, the capacity diminishes slightly with each complete charge cycle. Apple lithium-ion batteries are designed to hold at least 80% of their original capacity for a high number of charge cycles, which varies depending on the product. “

        1. No, the Ni-Cad batteries have a different situation called ‘battery memory’ that can only be cleared by draining it to zero then recharging. What I was pointing out was something almost everyone found confusing. Early ‘intelligent’ Lithium based batteries needed to be regularly ‘calibrated’ in order for their actual capacity to registered. Otherwise they were prone to UN-intelligently shut themselves down before or after (oops) they were actually near to empty. Here is one old article on the subject:

          http://www.appledystopia.com/how-to/calibrate-iphone-battery/

            1. There is one theory that the ‘battery memory’ problem never actually existed within the normal use of any consumer and their device. IOW: It may well be yet another example of BAD SCIENCE turning into a public meme or urban myth. When I was doing video production work way back in the Ni-Cad video camera days, we drained the batteries to zero on a regular schedule to avoid the ‘effect’. IOW: It may well have never needed to be ‘cured’ except for extreme uses. (o_O)

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nickel–cadmium_battery#Memory_effect

  3. Let’s see, who should I believe regarding the optimum way to charge my iPhone?

    Shane Broesky, co-founder of Farbe Technik, a company that makes charging accessories?

    Or Apple, THE COMPANY THAT DESIGNED AND MANUFACTURED THE FREAKING PHONE?

    It is a tough one.

    1. On various scientific sites, I have seen detailed explanations, complete with all the science and chemistry behind it, about the optimal regimen of charging and discharging various types of rechargeable batteries. And what Apple puts on their support site is often overly simplified and incorrect. Don’t forget, somewhere there is a latent agenda; after all, Apple profits from replacement batteries too.

      1. You may be right.

        But I don’t believe it is in Apple’s corporate DNA to profit by purposely misinforming their customers about the proper use of their products.

        You apparently believe otherwise.

        1. I don’t think Apple is doing it on purpose; Apple’s goal is not to overwhelm consumers with too much information, so in the effort to simplify, they may have been providing some misleading information. After all, the profit made from a few replacement batteries i so minuscule, compared to ill will due to short battery life…

          1. Dude, (may I call you dude? 😉 I think we’re pretty much on the same wavelength.

            I’m sorry if I sound kind of snarky here on MDN sometimes.

            It’s probably because my posts tend to bounce back and forth between “totally serious” and “goofball” – usually I’m not sure which mode I’m in myself. (Sometimes, apparently, it’s both at the same time!)

            I hope you have a great day!

    1. More to the point, it is incomplete.

      The reason being that Lithium rechargeable aren’t rechargeable if you take them to (true) 0%.

      As such, unless you know what Apple (and everyone else) sets their zero scale to, you can’t really make this judgement.

      FYI, a project I’m on is working with an industrial power pack using Li-Po’s … the battery supplier’s basic rule of thumb is that we set our “0%” at the 50% charge point…this affords over 100K recharge cycles. What’s interesting about all of this is that we could have gotten 10% more power by setting our “zero” lower, but the consequence of doing so is that recharge cycles take a hit. Something to consider for why iPads are lasting so long and the rip-offs aren’t: it’s this sort of discipline in not cutting corners in its engineering design detail.

      -hh

  4. I’ve worked in an Apple Premium Reseller store that specializes in Apple products for 5 years now. Part of my role is to evaluate trade in computers/iPads/iPhones.

    The most obvious pattern that I have learned is “Use it or lose it”.

    I’ve seen lithium batteries rated for 300 charges get 2000+ charge cycles and they are still going strong and I’ve seen lithium batteries rated for 1000 charge cycles need replacement at 40-50 charge cycles.

    Bottom line, rechargeable batteries do not like to sit on the charger full time, nor do they like to sit stone cold dead. Charge the thing when it needs it and use the battery as it was intended to be used. It’s as simple as that.

    BTW, I’ve literally seen this pattern 100’s, if not 1000 times.

  5. “Hey Siri” requires that you have your iPhone/iPad plugged in. And I haven’t seen anywhere that leaving it plugged in when it is at 100% in order to actually use “Hey Siri” results in any significant deprecation of the life of the battery.

    What I have learned is that with the batteries Apple uses in the iPhone and iPad, you don’t have to do the 100% to 0% to 100% cycle every 6 months like I used to think I need to. Thank you to @McKinlay and@Derek for those links to Apple.

    However, I don’t know about the batteries for other manufacturers’ devices. Perhaps 50% to 80% is the way to go.

    Me? I’m going to go with the posters here who basically just use their device, and plug it in when they need to/want to; and use it when they want to. 🙂

  6. ““It’s not convenient, but that’s the optimal way to charge your smartphone”

    It is convenient of you keep a charger in your car, at your desk and where you sleep at night. The battery can handle the rest of the time.

  7. Constantly working on Mac Pro (old fashion), my iPhone hangs to it by USB and charges while it synchronizes by iTunes… Best way, no time waste, very convenient.

  8. I read something about this a year or two ago in Popular Science, I think. The basic gist of that article was that even the scientists who develop batteries don’t exactly know the answer to this question, but the guess was that you should keep it somewhere between 20 and 80 percent most of the time.

  9. I had a 2011 15″ MBP that needed to replace its battery just past the first year mark. Treated it almost exactly like the comments here have recommended.

    The thing went from 1000+ remaining charges to less than 100 in a matter of a few weeks.

    Clearly something was wrong with the battery, but that didn’t help it be covered by Apple nonetheless.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.