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CONTACT 13: How to avoid smartphone battery trouble

Posted at 11:00 PM, Feb 09, 2017
There's nothing more annoying than a low or dead battery. It basically turns your smartphone into a paperweight. But as Contact 13 found out, there's something you can do about it.
 
"I think everyone wants to make sure they have a full battery," says frustrated smartphone user Paul.
 
We didn't have to go far to find frustrated smartphone users.
 
"I've had issues with batteries where eventually I've had to replace them," says Paul.
 
Contact 13 stopped at the Fix-Zone on Sahara Avenue, near Rainbow Boulevard. We spoke with customers, who say their phone's battery just isn't what it used to be.
 
"When I first got it, the whole charge would last close to a day. Now it's more around 6 to 7 hours," says smartphone user David.
 
So what's the problem? Some think it's a conspiracy by wireless carriers, trying to sell you the latest phone.
 
"Why do I even need a charge cable? How come it's not automatically solar powered ... They can make a better battery. They can make a better phone," David says.
 
Fix-Zone Manager Robert Velikov says battery replacement is a huge part of his business. But after 10 years of repairing phones, he thinks he's figured out the problem.
 
"What they're doing wrong most of the time is, they're overcharging their batteries," Velikov says.
 
Well it turns out, he's right!
 
"Everyone knows that their battery loses the ability to recharge, the ability to last a long time, over the time you have it ... It's basically because nothing's perfect. Everything wears out eventually," says Dr. Rebecca Thompson of the American Physical Society -- one of the world's largest organizations of physicists, based in Washington, D.C.
 
She says a lot of us are wearing down our phone's battery life by charging them too long.
 
"As most people do, they plug it in overnight. You've got several hours where it's just sitting there at this maximum voltage," says Dr. Thompson.
 
And forcing it to continue charging is bad for the battery. Letting your battery get too low is also bad.
 
"The best way to prolong the life of a lithium ion battery is to keep it charged between 20 percent and 80 percent," Dr. Thompson says.
 
You also need to keep your phone at room temperature. Because temperatures below 30 and above 86 degrees will hurt the longevity of your battery. That means the longer you stay outside on any given Las Vegas summer day, the worse it is for your phone.
 
But in the end Dr. Thompson says lithium ion batteries are by far the most effective option. They pack big voltage in a small and light weight package. Exactly what you want for a portable device. In the end, she says other ideas like solar power aren't realistic.
 
"You're just not getting enough energy from the sun to power your cell phone," Dr. Thompson says.
 
As for the future of phone batteries... 
 
"Technology is one of those amazing things. You don't know today what the breakthrough is going to be tomorrow," Dr. Thompson says.
 
So here's the Contact 13 bottom line: to prolong the life of your phone's battery, make sure to close any apps you're not using. Remember, hitting the home button on your phone doesn't close an app. And adjust the screen brightness. The brighter it is, the more battery your using. And keep it charged between 20 and 80 percent.