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Should I unplug my smartphone charger? Six charging myths busted

Battery technology is developing fast, but deeply-rooted myths about how best to preserve both your battery and its charger are harder to shift. 
Here, we’ll bust six urban-charging legends that just won’t go away, helping you to decipher fact from fiction to get the best out of your charger, and the devices it charges.  

 
Charging overnight is bad - false

Central to the myth that charging your smartphone overnight is bad is the idea that when it gets to 100% it will just keep on going. This, the myth claims, will not only cost you more in electricity bills but “over-charge” the battery and cause it damage. Let’s tackle those points one at a time.
Firstly, and this is a common theme throughout these myths, smartphone technology has come a long way over the past few years. When your phone hits 100% charge, it will stop charging and only top you back up if you fall to 99%. 
A quality, genuine charger (see only buy chargers from the phone manufacturer) will have good enough standby technology to stop your bills from rocketing due to overnight charging. 
For the same reason, your device’s days of over-charging are over. When the battery reaches full, the charging process ends – with no potential for overheating and catching fire through over-charging. 
If you find your device is getting a little hot when it’s on charge, chances are you’re dealing with a faulty charger. Plus, they won’t be the best at using power efficiently, probably leading to an increase in your energy bills. 

 
I should unplug my charger when not in use – false (ish)

So, what about when you go off to lectures – does unplugging your various chargers shave valuable pennies off your electricity bill? 
Probably not. Just like battery technology, charger technology keeps evolving – including how it acts when nothing is plugged into it.
Even if you leave it plugged in and switched on, a charger’s standby mode is so minimal these days that ultimately, it’s only likely to save you a couple of pennies over an entire year. 

 

Only buy chargers from the phone manufacturer - false

There are a couple of distinctions to make here. There are three types of charger you could go for, and only one that you really should avoid. 
Original manufacturer products are probably going to perform the best. They’ll charge your device the fastest and are likely to last the longest. They come at a price though, and their cost is often too high for many of us to swallow. 
As a cost-effective and acceptable alternative, you could buy a reputable off-brand version. The technology used to charge your devices, like USB for Android users, is standardised, so while the performance may fluctuate between products, it won’t do any damage to your device and its battery. 
The third option is the one you need to avoid. Cheap, counterfeit chargers are where you run the risk of damaging your device, and even the plug it’s connected to. 
In short, buy your chargers from reputable retailers, don’t just go for the cheapest option – but don’t feel like you need to go to the original manufacturer, either.

 

You should run down your battery before charging – false

On this one, the opposite is believed to be true today. Lithium-ion batteries actually respond better to smaller, incremental chargers. 
There’s some evidence that suggests keeping your phone’s battery at 40%-60% will lead to it lasting the longest. In reality, the demands of modern life make this a pretty ridiculous proposition. 
So how should you approach smartphone battery health? It depends how often you’re replacing your phone. Modern mobile contracts typically last 24 months. It doesn’t matter how you treat your phone’s battery over that amount of time (within reason of course), chances are it isn’t going to degrade enough for you to notice.
If you’re replacing your smartphone every couple of years, then don’t worry about it. 

 

Store your batteries in the fridge – false

One of the oldest battery myths in the book, this is borne out of the idea that batteries are easily damaged when they overheat. 
It’s true that extreme heat is bad for your battery, so we wouldn’t recommend charging your phone in a sauna. Still, taking it to a freezer, as is sometimes suggested, isn’t going to do it any favours either. Avoid extreme temperatures on either side for the best battery health.
A couple of points to note on your charger here. First, wireless chargers actually kick out a lot of waste heat, baking your battery if exposed for a significant amount of time. 
Same goes for quick chargers, a growing trend in the smartphone industry. These essentially just pack more voltage into the charger, and while your phone and charger are probably sophisticated enough to deal with it, it’s something worth considering. 

 

Shutting down apps saves on battery - false

This one is purely concerned with how you use your smartphone, but at least it affects how often you’ll use your charger. 
Probably the most widespread of all of these myths is the idea that shutting down your phone’s background apps will help to conserve battery. Rationally this makes perfect sense – if your phone is running less stuff then surely it’s using less battery over time, right?
Well, maybe not. Apps are developed in a such a way that, when you’re not physically interacting with them, their battery consumption is minimal. In fact, shutting them all down means you’ll just have to re-open them all again, which in turn will use up more battery.
If the concerned apps are using too much battery, you can usually optimise how active apps are in the background, disabling certain aspects of use and adding valuable minutes to your battery life. 

 

Charging myths - busted

Technology develops at a fast pace, and charging technology is no exception. Following the advice listed above and you can save yourself plenty of cash in energy bills, replacement batteries, and new chargers.