What do we know about Android battery degradation and what can we do to avoid it

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Apple is going through a hard time with iOS. An exhaustive report has outed the guys from Cupertino: they are reducing the performance of the old terminals to try and enlarge the battery duration that, as time passes, loses capacity and hours of use because of the physical degradation. Even though this story is impacting iPhones, it is not a problem exclusive to these smartphones.

The degradation of lithium ion batteries affects all of the Android smartphones and besides losing autonomy it can affect the performance, but up until now, no manufacturer has given any details on the potency reduction. The problem is real and it doesn’t matter what we do because the usage itself will take place one way or the other. Now, we can control it and take measures in order to have a healthy battery.

What we know: after the first year, batteries lose capacity

Every time we charge our battery when it’s below 70% we initiate a cycle. So, if we charge our phone daily, we are doing approximately 360 cycles per year. Analysts specialized on ion-lithium batteries, such as Battery University, have built reports explaining how the degradation works.

According to their studies, starting from the 300 to 500 cycles the battery’s performance starts to change and the energy to reduce. In other words: since the first year of use, the smartphone will have less and less capacity and because of this we will have to initiate charging cycles sooner, forcing the rhythm and as a consequence, using our phone for less time.

The study from Battery University is a good starting point, but we need to consider the fact that, although almost every battery is made of ion lithium, each of them has a different capacity, the manufacturing can vary and the use of the device can vary a lot from one person to another. So we should know this is a good point of reference but it is not the ultimate truth.

We can find a good example of how the battery degradation varies in Samsung, with its two last flagship models: the South Koreans say that the autonomy of the Galaxy S8 degrades less than the one of the Galaxy S7 in the same period of time. While the 2016 model will downgrade up to 80%, the 2017 model only does so up to 95%. A significant difference that still lacks an external analysis in order to check the facts.

It is important to understand that the battery will degrade no matter what we do. It’s normal.

Speaking of the OS itself – Apple has admitted that they put brakes on older devices – there is no definitive answer. Addressing this matter on Android is extremely complex since every manufacturer makes its own version of the operative system and results can vary a lot. Companies haven’t released any statement, which is normal since no report or study has put them against the wall, as has happened with the guys from Cupertino.

We know a lot about battery degradation, its effect on the memory and that there’s not much we can do to avoid its losing capacity and autonomy. It’s just something we need to accept, but luckily there are ways to control it, so when it comes a point where the battery lasts very little, we can take action.

How to control the battery degradation

As we said, there is no way to stop battery degradation on Android. What we can do is trace its reduction of quality. In fact, we don’t need to check it every day because, as we said, the degradation takes place in bulks of a couple hundred steps. It is a problem, it is not too serious, but we don’t have to get obsessed with it.

There are thousands of applications on Google Play, that promise to enhance the battery but our advice here is clear: avoid these as much as possible, because most of them offer quite aggressive battery-saving methods, something that already comes in most smartphones. Don’t waste your time with them, they will not enhance your battery’s quality.

There are no such things as miraculous battery-saving apps. The only thing these apps will provide are aggressive options to save battery that you, most likely, already have on your Android.

Our recommendation is to use the app CPU Z: a tool that analyzes our phone’s hardware and gives us details and information about the different components, the battery being one of them. On the battery tab we’ll see a concise report about our Android’s health. It doesn’t give much detail but it provides the necessary information to know if it’s in good shape or not.

In order to use it effectively, it is advisable to check on it from time to time, for example, we can set a reminder every three months to check this. This way we can see the evolution thanks to the application and you’ll see that, as time passes, the battery doesn’t have the same capacity and you’ll have to charge it earlier than usual. Now, what options do we have to solve this?

Solutions: replace the battery or buy a new Android

Let’s talk about the second option first since it’s the most obvious one. If the battery starts failing considerably, it is likely that your device has a couple years already. If you have the chance and resources to change your Android, this is a good time to do it. Keep in mind that we are talking of at least a 2-year period, not 6 months.

In two years, or more, things change a lot on Android, so not only will you gain more autonomy, but also you’ll upgrade your camera and you’ll have an updated phone. As we said, this is the easiest and most obvious option. If you don’t know where to start, from time to time, we publish buying guides to remind you of which are the best Androids at the moment.

Substituting the battery nowadays is a bit more complicated than how it used to be a couple years ago. Between 2010 and 2014 there were a lot of devices that had extractable batteries, so it was easy to buy a new one, take out the old one and move on. Years later, this has changed, many manufacturers started betting on sealed devices to gain more space and offer more noble materials such as metal or glass.

Changing the battery on your own without much knowledge can be complicated. If in doubt, better check on an official technical service.

If you have a sealed phone and you can’t access the battery, the best option is to go to the company’s official technical service and ask them to change your battery for a new one. They will give you a previous budget that includes the installation cost.

If you are more of a handyman, you can check the iFixit guides to know how to open your Android and do the change yourself. We only recommend this if you are really good at working with tiny electronic pieces and you know what you are doing because a bad move can leave the device useless.

Finally, you can go to a non-official technical service where they probably know what they’re doing but doesn’t give you the guarantee of the manufacturer’s service. Whichever option you choose, always try to use original batteries, because sometimes third-party batteries, as cheap as they are, don’t offer the same quality and the degradation process can occur even faster.

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