Is your Cell Phone Battery Failing?

By: Nat Jay


'My battery keeps getting low when I need it...'
'But I recharged it just this morning...'
'What's the heck's wrong with this battery...?'
'It's just a year old... How can it fail?'


These are common complaints, and the reason, we often conclude, is that it's the manufacturer's fault.

Fact is, cell phone technology has grown rapidly over the past 4-5 years, but battery technology just hasn't kept pace. Cell phones use lithium-ion batteries with a normal lifespan of 2-3 years. They are efficient power sources and often last a couple days when fully charged.

Even if we go back to as recent as 2003, it wasn't uncommon to find cell phones that gave just 1 hr of talktime with a standby time of under 24 hrs. These days, despite all the processing power involved, we can expect the typical Nokia or Sony cell phone to last much longer than that -- Say 4-6 hrs of talktime and 2-3 days of standby time. But the reality is, we often get just 50-75% of that. There are reasons for it.

It's important to note that the talktime / standby figures given by advertisers and manufacturers are just 'official' figures under "ideal" test conditions -- which means, the phone is tested with just the bare minimum of applications running (usually just the operating system) at room temperature, and used for no more than talking and sending sms.

Under "normal" usage circumstances, however, we do a lot more than that. Here are 8 of the things that a cell phone tends to engage in on a real-world basis:


1. Bluetooth on most phones having it is almost always on.

2. We've got multiple applications running in the foreground and background - even those we're not using.

3. Emails are being sent and the Internet is being browsed.

4. The brightness of our phone screen is set to high by default.

5. We've got sounds and vibrating alerts on, instead of functional ringtones.

6. For travelers and business users on roaming, the phone is constantly locating a signal -- which eats into precious battery time like no one's business.

7. We tend to overcharge our battery by keeping it plugged in for over 24 hrs, or the opposite -- completely discharge the battery before recharging it again.

8. Lastly (and more commonly), our phone is continually exposed to heat, cold, dust, rain, oil fumes, shocks and vibrations, including accidental drops on a hard floor.


The first 6 consume power while the last 2 can irreversibly damage the cell phone.

Power running low is one of the biggest complaints of cell phone users. And with new phones supporting features like wi-fi, webcam and gps - almost like a mini-computer - the strain on the battery is as enormous as that on the processor and memory.

The overall performance of our cell phone depends heavily on how efficiently the battery is used in day-to-day scenarios. By cutting down on just a couple of the points above, the battery will last longer -- not just between charges but also over its overall lifespan.

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