Signs of a damaged phone battery
You will find plenty of online discussions, whether in forums or articles on websites like this one, about phone batteries. Almost all of them are about charging and stretching out the time between charging.
According to Android Central, that is important information to know but there is also another problem you might face, especially if you keep the same phone for a couple of years – batteries don’t last forever.
Phone batteries are complicated
We have all either had to get a new battery for our car or know someone who has. Batteries are chemical power plants and once they have reached to point where they can no longer build a charge through their chemical reaction, they turn into a container for semi-toxic and expensive materials that don’t do anything. When that happens, you need to provide a new battery if you want to continue to use the things that it powers. Be sure to recycle your old battery properly, please.
Phones aren’t like cars, where changing the battery is as easy as disconnecting the old and connecting a new one. They used to be, but thinner phones and higher battery capacity demands meant that they are now small foil bags sealed up inside your phone. They are designed to last a specific number of charge cycles, and a charge cycle is taking the battery from its lowest point to its highest.
It is worth noting that this doesn’t mean zero to 100, even though the phone will report it that way. Batteries are designed to be used at 80 per cent of the listed capacity (but still safe up to 125 per cent) and never brought down to a zero-charge state. The circuitry inside your phone takes care of that and makes it simple for us by reporting the scale to zero to100.
The number of charging cycles that a battery is rated for is an approximation; they reported number is based on an average. There are ways to “game” the system when it comes to charging cycles, and you have probably seen advice that says to charge your phone a certain way to extend the usable life of the cell. These do work, but you won’t be able to get too much extra life from your phone’s original battery so it may not be worth it. You have to decide if micromanaging the way you charge your phone is worth another two or three months of life.
Signs your battery is ready to move on
A battery doesn’t just suddenly die under normal circumstances; it gives some warning signs that it’s getting close. Sometimes, batteries can just short or have another type of fault that kills them, but those instances aren’t very common. A lot of time and energy went into designing a safe and long-lasting battery for a phone.
You might notice when your battery is going downhill because it rapidly discharges while you’re using it. If you used to go half the day and your battery was still at 60 per cent, for example, and it now hits 30 per cent during the same time, it is a sign that the battery is starting to sour. Other things like bad apps or a bad update can do this, too, so it can be tricky to diagnose.
Your phone’s battery will most likely die a slow, noticeable death.
You will also notice that it won’t charge completely. No matter how long you leave it plugged in it never says it is fully charged because it’s not. It can’t hold enough electrical energy to register as full by the electronics in your phone because the materials inside have degraded enough to affect performance.
One of the first warning signs is your phone losing charge right away. If you take your phone off the charger when it says the battery is at 100 per cent and it immediately drops to 90 per cent or 80 per cent, the battery is getting a bit old. It’s normal for some phones to lose a few percentage points of battery charge right away (at least according to the battery gauge) but a drop of 10 per cent or more is a sign of a problem.
If your phone is bulging or swelled up, stop using it right now.
If you notice your phone bulging in the middle or getting very hot on or off the charger, that’s a sign of a bad battery too, but you also need to stop using it right away and take it somewhere that a tech can look at it. We have all heard stories of phones bursting from a bad battery, and the whole Note 7 thing is still fresh in our minds.
Phone batteries are safe when used as intended. Because of things like Samsung’s excellent response to Note 7s catching fire and bursting, they are safer now than ever before. But accidents and malfunctions happen. Don’t ignore any signs of excessive heat or swelling because nobody likes it when their pants (or anything else) catch fire.
You probably won’t see any of these signs for at least 18 months after you bought your phone if you bought it new. Battery life may be listed in charge cycles, but the goal is to make them last two years since that is the standard length of a carrier contract. But if you really like your phone or really like not spending money on a new one, you will see your battery die eventually.
How to change phone battery
Changing the battery in a sealed phone isn’t hard for people who know what they are doing. Most of the time.
If you are used to going online or taking a trip to the carrier store to buy a new battery for your phone, those days are gone and I doubt they will ever come back.
According to Android Central, the battery in your phone probably can be changed by someone who knows what they are doing.
Changing a phone battery isn’t hard on most models, but the way you open the two halves of a phone can be a little tricky. There may be hidden screws, plastic clips that are designed to never be unclipped, and there will be lots of sticky adhesive.
It is easy to chnage the battery on some phones with a handful of simple tools; the Nexus 4 and iPhone 4 only take a few minutes to open and change things. Other phones are not easy to open without breaking the screen. Unless you are still using a Nexus 4 or iPhone 4, forget changing the battery yourself.
Luckily, a person who can change a phone battery isn’t hard to find. If your phone is still covered under a warranty, you should talk to the people you bought it from first. If you don’t, you’re probably going to lose that warranty, so do it.
If your phone no longer has a warranty, ask a friend if they have a “phone person” they trust. If not, it is fairly safe to take a chance with someone who has a legitimate business repairing phones. Think about it. The little kiosk in the mall where someone will swap your battery in two hours while you shop wouldn’t be there if they weren’t able to do it successfully. Changing a battery is a mechanical thing — the phone comes apart a certain way, only a specific battery fits for a replacement, and the parts go back together the same way they came apart — only in reverse. For a “phone person,” it is a simple job and the hardest part is making sure they don’t scratch the screen, and remembering to wipe the fingerprints off of everything when they are finished.
If your friends don’t have a “phone person” look on Google. There are also plenty of national companies that specialise in phone repairs. You will find them listed online or even in the Yellow Pages if you ever see an old phone book. You can look at review sites like Google Maps for an overview of customer experiences, and because these franchises all operate under a specific set of policies, you can look them up to see what to expect.
Your carrier may also have a phone repair centre, even one on site in some locations. It is worth talking to them about it.
Some phones, like the original HTC One M7 or the Nexus 6P, are built in a way that you probably won’t find someone willing to open them to change the battery. Don’t get mad at the person you’re asking to do the repairs, because some things aren’t meant to be opened. The original iPhone was notorious for being nigh impossible to change the battery unless someone was a professional with experience. A business that specializes in quick phone repairs on site can decide it’s not worth the risk of damaging the phone by trying it.
You can see a list of popular phones and their “repairability” scores at iFixit. The easiest phones to open are at the top and the hardest are at the bottom. If your phone is near the bottom of the list you’ll probably have to let a professional have the phone for a day or two and a service that fixes things while you wait isn’t going to be an option. They need to give you back your phone looking as good as it did when you gave it to them. That’s hard to do with some phones.
Buying a new phone is not the worst thing in the world. You might have to do it.
Finally, maybe it’s time to buy a new phone. Or a new-to-you phone, even. We have you covered with our comprehensive Smartphone Buyer’s Guide. You’ll find a phone that’s the best at almost any criteria you have set, and you might even see something that you never thought of. A phone is more than a novelty in today’s society and is an important tool. It’s worth doing the research to find the one that fits you best.
Common phone battery problems
Having a cell phone is great when you need to talk on the go, but if you have a faulty battery, then you may feel like you are chained to your phone’s charger.
Many things can go wrong with a phone’s battery, from the so-called “memory effect” to plain-old worn out batteries.
According to www.itstillworks.com, some issues can be corrected, but unfortunately, most will need to be addressed by replacement.
The memory effect is a common issue in older cell phones that use a nickel-cadmium battery. This issue occurs when the user charges the battery before it has drained repeatedly, and the battery “remembers” the point at which it was prematurely drained and then only drains from that point onward (thus losing a portion of its full battery potential.) The memory effect is only present in older cell phones, so if you have one that was made in 2005 or before, you may know of it. To prevent the memory effect from occurring, make sure to deplete your battery as much as possible before charging it.
Overcharge is a more common problem in modern cell phones. When you overcharge a battery, it means that you leave the phone on the charger after it has reached 100 percent. While leaving a battery on a charging station for a few hours after the charge has completed will not impact the battery too negatively, if you leave the battery on the charger for more than 24 hours you can overheat and permanently damage the battery.
Did you know that even if you do not use your phone, it still uses battery life? This phenomenon is known as self-discharge. If your phone is switched off all the time, the battery life is still being used. If you do not turn it on every few weeks and charge it, the battery will die permanently. If you have a cell phone that you only use in emergencies or are keeping “just in case,” it is a good idea to turn it on and charge it at least once a month to keep it from self-discharging the battery.
All batteries have a certain lifespan, and after awhile you can expect them to degrade substantially. Most batteries (under normal circumstances) will last between two and three years and can handle about 500 charge cycles. If you start noticing marked battery loss after a comparable amount of time, it is probably due to your battery being old. Unfortunately, there is not much you can do about a battery getting old, and if enough time has passed, you will need to replace it to ensure your phone continues functioning as it should.
Getting the most from your battery
To prevent most of these problems from happening, and to keep your phone’s battery from aging too quickly, the best thing to do is to make the most of your charging cycle. Try and run the batterydown as much as possible before plugging it in, and, if possible, unplug it as soon as it has finished charging. You can also reduce strain on your batteries (and thus reduce the number of charge cycles) by toggling settings like screen settings, vibrate function and Bluetooth wireless network connections.