How to extend your smartphone battery life (guide)

How to extend your smartphone battery life is all about the little-known fact that Lithium-ion batteries have a fixed recharge cycle life varying between 200 and 1600 full cycle recharges.

If you charge from 0-100%, that is a cycle. If you charge 0-50%, that is half a cycle. Most manufacturers will not reveal the recharge cycle number.

  • Apple states 500.
  • Samsung does not state cycles, but we believe its Galaxy S series is also around 500 and its A-series about 300.
  • Motorola uses from 300-500 cycles, depending on the series and has an Overcharging protection option on some models (prevents charging when full).
  • Nokia uses 300-500, depending on the series.

OPPO (in its premium phones) takes a new approach called Battery Health Engine (BHE) – a dedicated battery management chip using two OPPO technologies to extend to 1600 cycles.

  • Smart Battery Health Algorithm track real-time electric potential across the battery’s negative electrodes. It dynamically adjusts the charging currency within a reasonable range, effectively minimising the occurrence of dead lithium while maintaining the maximum charging current. This helps ensure a prolonged battery lifespan and faster charging speeds.
  • Battery Healing Technology uses improved electrolyte that continuously repairs the electrodes during charge and discharge cycles. This helps reduce wear and tear of the battery’s positive and negative electrodes, enhancing battery performance and extending battery lifespan.

Regardless, think of cycles as a fixed amount of fuel in the tank. After it has reached its charge cycle life, refilling it may only hold from 30-80% of the charge.

But there is good news too. No matter how badly or well you observe phone charging best practices, it makes little difference in the first 2-3 years of use. It really affects you when you want to use the phone for years longer.

When your smartphone stops giving you the battery life you are used to, the only option is to replace the battery. A Samsung or iPhone battery typically costs around $150 (genuine). Third-party repairers may be cheaper, but you don’t get a genuine battery.

How to extend your smartphone battery life

Fast or slow charge?

Lithium-ion batteries charge in two stages.

  1. Fast charge: Constant Current uses the maximum amperage (between 1 and 3A), but the voltage can vary from 5-20V. This usually happens for the first 0-50%, generating more heat and worse for a battery.
  2. Standard charge: Constant Voltage – meaning the voltage does not vary, but the maximum amperage may vary from, say, .5A to 3A. This is stage two, slow charging or top-up and creates far less heat.

Fast charge is convenient and far shorter. It won’t damage the phone; just shortens the battery life using higher amperage.

Standard charging is slower and uses higher voltage and lower amperage. It is better for the battery generating less heat and extends its life. Slow charge takes longer. A 5V/1A/5W or 5V/2A/10W charger could see charging times well over five hours, but the upside is far less stress on the battery.

What charger to use

With so many companies not including a charger in the box and trying to sell you one at an exorbitant cost, we say to hell with them profiting from you. Good brands to buy are Belkin, Cyngett, Amlogic and Anker.

The truth is you can use any USB charger as long as it has an RCM C-Tick certified for Australian use.

But there are several types, and some are better than others. Note we cannot list all Volt/Amp/Watts combinations – just know that Amps create heat where Volts and Watts don’t.

Dumb PD 1.0 USB-A chargers

Outputs fixed 5 Volts and range from .5A (2.5W), .75A (3.75W), 1A (5W), 1.5A (7.5W), 2A (10W – maximum) regardless of how full your phone battery is. You can identify this in two ways. First, it will have a USB-A female port, and second, it will have at least one output voltage printed on it (use a magnifying glass if you need to). These are for phones with a micro-USB connection. You should disconnect the phone after it is charged.

Dumb PD 2.0 USB-A chargers

Outputs a fixed 5V/2A/10W or 12V/1.5A/18W (maximum). Ditto for just pouring V/A/W into the phone. These have a USB-A port and can have a USB-A to USB-C cable. Just because your phone has a USB-C port does not mean that it has intelligent charging. Most lower-cost ones do not. Ditto to disconnect.

Dumb PD 3.0 USB-A chargers. Outputs 5V/2A/10W and 12V/3A/36W (maximum). Ditto for the above.

Intelligent USB-C chargers

These are PD 4.0 and have fixed 5V/2A and up to 20V/3A/60W (maximum). There may be more fixed Volt/Amp variations like 9V, 11V, 15V etc. These have a USB-C female port and use USB-C to USB-C cables that MUST be rated for 3A (or they overheat and can melt the plastic). They negotiate with the phone to deliver a fixed rate (usually starting on high Amperage) and then lowering the Amperage in steps to top the battery up.

Smart USB-C chargers

These are PD 5.0 and have fixed 5V/2A/10W and up to 20V/5A/100W (maximum). You must use a 5A-rated cable.

Really smart USB-C chargers have fixed PD ratings as well as PPS (Programmable Power Supply) from 3-11V/3A (9-33W) and 3.3-20V/5A (16.5-100W maximum). These have a USB-C female port and MUST use a 5A-rated cable. You can use these chargers with any dumb or smartphone. If you can, buy a GaN (Gallium Nitride) charger instead of a transformer-based one. Note that a new 48V/5A/240W version is coming soon.


Many OPPO phones use dual batteries, e.g., two x 2500mAh = 5000mAh. It is a very clever design because its chargers have two charge circuits and a special dual circuit cable, effectively cutting the charging time in half and generating far less heat than typical fast chargers. For example, a 60W SuperVOOC is 2 x 10V/3A/30W simultaneous charges. You can use any standard PD 3.0 or 4.0, but the charge time will at least double.

USB ports on a computer

If it has a USB-A (black tongue), it likely supports up to 5V/.9A/4.5W. A Blue tongue usually means 5V/2A/10W. USB-C can be up to 5V/3A/15W. These are maximum wattages.

One final note: You may see the term BC (Battery Charging) – let’s not complicate this guide.

More reading – USB and Thunderbolt cables made easy (guide)

Avoid the battery going to 0% (depth of discharge)

Letting your battery completely empty every time can shorten its usable life by as much as 60%. Charge when it reaches 20-30%.

Stop charging to 100%

Find a battery setting that allows you to charge to 80% (if you can). Interestingly the more you top up a battery from 50%, the longer it lasts.

Turn your phone screen off when charging

It reduces charging time, and that is better for batteries.

If you have a micro-USB connection disconnect the charger at 80%

These phones have limited internal charging smarts. Leaving this type of device attached to a charger can result in heat (energy converts to heat when not used). Heat is a battery killer.

If you have a USB-C connection disconnecting is not as critical

USB-C has intelligent charging but don’t get in the habit of leaving it connected all the time. You will extend battery charge cycles if you disconnect at 80%.

Use Qi wireless if you can

Qi (pronounced Chi) is intelligent charging. It negotiates with the phone to deliver just what it needs from as low as 2.5W to as high as 15W (or 50W-125W on some phones with special chargers).

Because Qi knows when to stop charging, you can leave the phone on the charging pad all the time. It also has the advantage of not wearing out the USB-C connector.

Qi charging can extend your battery life because it seldom does more than top the phone up.

One caveat – look for Qi charge pads and stands with a fan to help remove heat.

Unused or stored devices

New batteries self-discharge at about 2% per month, but older ones can lose 8-10% per month. If you plan to store the device for more than a few months, charge it to 70% and top up every three months.

Getting more hours out of a charge

An awful lot is going on in an Android or iOS phone that you never know about. Apps want to stay active in the background; Wi-Fi is constantly pinging hot spots; GPS location chews battery; 5G uses more battery than 4G etc.

The following are tips for Android – iOS will have similar functionality. Use the Settings search function if you cannot find something.

Screen tips

Reduce screen time-out

Instead of 5 minutes before the screen turns off, try 30-60 seconds.

Reduce the brightness to 50% (give or take)

Most phones have a setting to adjust brightness automatically. Turn it off and set it to as close to 50% as you feel comfortable with.

Reduce screen frequency (Hz)

Use the Settings>Display>Screen Refresh rate and select Auto (if there is one); otherwise, select 60Hz (if you have multiple choices). Gamers and prosumers will know what setting they want.

Reduce Screen resolution.

Just because a screen may be able to support Quad HD+ does not mean it needs to use that. Set the resolution back to Full HD+ 1080p or even HD+ 720p if given the option.

Use Dark mode (if you have an AMOLED/pOLED screen)

This means the screen background is black (pixels off). If you don’t mind the effect, it is a great way to extend battery run-time.

Switch off the Always-on display (AMOLED or pOLED)

Usually under Settings>Wallpaper>Always-on Display.

Hardware and Apps

Use the phones battery saver

Settings>Battery>Power Saving Mode. Most battery savers are a little too aggressive, so start with the lowest level of saving and see how that goes. Also, see if there is an Optimised Night and Wireless Charging settings.

Few will have the ability to set upper and lower charging limits. If so, set it at 20 and 80%.

Look for Optimise Battery Use and change all Apps to “Auto Optimise”. If that affects an important App, it will ask you to change to Don’t Optimise or Always Ask (safer).

Turn off Bluetooth

Settings>Bluetooth. Don’t do this if you have a smartwatch, earbuds etc.

Select 4G instead of 5G

Settings>Mobile Data>SIM settings. Look for the preferred network type and select 4G instead of 5G.

Turn off Location

Settings>Location>Advanced and disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth scanning.

Disable voice assistants

Setting>Google>Settings for Google Apps and turn off OK Google.

Don’t use the phone as an in-car Navigation device

Several issues here. Constant GPS drains the battery fast and uses more power (called a parasitic load). Typical car charging cradles only output a maximum of 5V/2A/10W and may not keep up and create heat. If you leave the phone in a hot car, it can shorten battery life.

Avoid parasitic loads or using the phone while charging

This happens with high loads like games, video watching, and GPS, where the charge cannot keep up with the discharge. These cause increased heat and battery stress.

CyberShack’s view – the effectiveness of how to extend your smartphone battery life depends on how much it means to you

If you change phones every two to three years, ignore this guide. If you want to keep it longer, then charging etiquette and screen settings will give you perhaps an extra year of usable life.

We must ask why upper and lower charging limits are NOT part of iOS or Android.

Chargie by Lightly Electronics has an easy-to-use add-on BT dongle and App that allows you to nominate cable charge limits, and the Chargie dongle physically shuts off the power. This is the easy way out for cable, not Qi charging. We have not tested or reviewed this, but international reviews are favourable.

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