TIPS: Everything you wanted to know about Li-Ion batteries but were afraid to ask!

HTC Desire

Introduction

DarkDvr over at XDA has written up an excellent post on how Li-Ion batteries (which is the kind of battery that the HTC Desire uses) work and how to use them properly.  DarkDvr has kindly given me permission to publish his post on this site (thanks man!).  So here’s all the information which should help you get the most of your battery!

The Information

So after noticing how much of a difference people get in their battery lives, I’ve decided to do some research and make a guide-line that will give us all we need to know about properly using our batteries. First part is a general information and usage techniques for LIBs, second part is taken from Google materials on Android-powered devices (G1, Magic, Droid, Nexus One, etc).

Sources:
Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium-ion_battery
BatteryUniversity http://www.batteryuniversity.com/parttwo-34.htm
Google IO Conference 2009http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUemfrKe65c
Electropaediahttp://www.mpoweruk.com/life.htm

General Lithium-Ion Battery (LIB) Usage:

  1. Discharging your LIB fully (or less than 2.4 Volt per cell) is bad for the battery. Every time you do that, it can be said that small part of your battery (some cells) dies (they forever lose their charge). Do not store your batteries depleted, there’s a high chance they will die completely or will become very “weak”.
  2. You cannot restore bad LIBs by overloading/heating/praying. You gotta go buy a new one. They DO degrade overtime, some cells naturally lose the ability to gain/give electricity.
  3. Although it is said that LIBs do not have memory, it’s not entirely true. LIBs have gauges that monitor performance of cells, and if you do a lot of small charges, it won’t let those gauges to monitor a full battery potential, causing an invalid indication of charge level. A complete charge/discharge should be made when battery capacity seems reduced, that will calibrate gauges and they will provide your phone with correct charge level status. A full charge/discharge cycle should be done every 30 (or so) partial charges.
  4. LIBs have a shelf-life. Do not buy them to store them. Use them early, use them often, they will die whether you use them or not. Do not buy LIBs to use them in 6 months/year/etc, buy them right before actually using them.
  5. LIBs have short lives (in comparison to NiCa batteries, etc). You should expect to buy a new battery in 2-3 years after being manufactured. It is caused by internal oxidation and there’s nothing you can do to stop or prevent that.
  6. Worst LIB treatment is to keep it at 100% charge level at high temperature (think laptop/phone under direct sunlight, like car dashboard).
  7. Best LIB treatment, or LIBs “favorite” charge level – 40%. That’s also the usual charge level you buy them with.
  8. LIBs don’t like heat. For example, while always at 100%, typical LIB in a laptop, at temperatures of 25C (77F) will lose 20% (twenty percent!) of full capacity per year. That capacity loss is reduced to 6% (six percent) at 0C (32F), and increased to 35% loss at 40C (104F). So, keep them cool (LIBs like fridges), don’t let your devices sit in the sun or overheat at charge. Also, keep in mind that while in use, battery will be significantly hotter than phone/outside environment.
  9. LIBs like frequent partial charges/discharges more than they like full charges/discharges.
  10. Car “fast-chargers” overtime degrade your battery a little, as they give too much energy to the battery too fast (high voltage). Trickle-charge (USB) is best. They do provide an initial higher capacity charge (high-voltage), but do degrade the long-term battery capacity. General idea is that the slower the charge – the longer (long-term) battery will serve you.

HTC/Google-specific advice:

  1. Although this part is somewhat controversial, they do recommend having a complete, full FIRST charge to be made. If time allows, a preferred time for the first charge is 12 hours. This may have more to do with the OS than the battery.
  2. Battery on a Android device, in average, will last about a full day with normal use (some videos, mail, calls). That’s what you should kind-of expect.
  3. Speaking in averages, “idling” 3G/EDGE connection (when phone is sleeping and no data is transferred through 3G), drains almost no energy. Just a little more than having 3G/EDGE radio off completely. So when no apps are using 3G, you don’t need to keep it off.
  4. Same goes to WiFi connection – although it’s on, if there is no data flowing through it, it uses almost no energy.
  5. At full throughput (100% data flow), EDGE is using significantly more energy than 3G. 3G is much more energy-efficient than EDGE.
  6. WiFi is using more energy than 3G (when both are at 100% use), but since it transfers files much faster and then goes to “sleep”, it’s actually recommended to use WiFi whenever possible. Since it’ll “sleep” more often than 3G, overall it will use much less battery than using 3G.
  7. Some bad apps or widgets can use android’s “WakeLock“, keeping CPU at 100%, screen always-on, or both. I myself have encountered such widget (I won’t mention the name, it’s in the market) that used a WakeLock to keep CPU spun-up at 100% all the time. That makes a huge impact on battery life. My advice – use a CPU profiling app to monitor the CPU – make sure that CPU slows down by itself when it’s not used. So, beware of such widgets/apps.
  8. Android (at least on Nexus One) slows down CPU when not in use by itself, as a built-in feature.

Credits

Thanks again to DarkDvr for his original post on XDA-Developers

  • http://extorian.co.uk/blog/ eXtorian

    This is a brilliant post, and I agree with all of it apart from number 4 in the last section. While, in an ideal situation, WiFi uses almost no energy, this rarely occurs on an actual network that has more than a few devices on it.

    Most devices on the local network (that’s typically a few at home, and tons at work) chat to each other every second or so over the network. Network wide broadcast packets are also frequently transmitted, as is routing information. This data will still be received by your phone, and your phone will often acknowledge its receipt (if TCP), or even respond to it (e.g. pings), thus, the WiFi radio is frequently receiving and transmitting.

    You can get a good idea of how busy a WiFi connection is by watching the lights flashing on your WiFi router.

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  • http://none Gurks

    Interesting post.

    Having just installed ‘JuiceDefender’, I’m now wondering what battery increase can feasibly be obtained through disabling APN/Wifi most of the time. With so little battery seemingly consumed by APN/Wifi idling, there appears to be very little benefit in constantly knocking it on/off all the time. My widgets are set to sync manually anyway, so unless I decide to refresh them, my APN/Wifi really shouldn’t be using much battery at all.

    Surely this renders JuiceDefender fairly pointless?

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  • k3sj

    oh no. I only charged my Desire for couple of hours only say 3-4 hours? I even checked on Internet before unplug. Damn.

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