I'm curious as to what recommendations can be made concerning charging routines for a typical lithium ion battery found in a device like a cell phone. The primary goal I have is to maintain the usable life of the battery for as long as possible. In my mind a battery is still usable if it can hold a charge for at least a day under minimal/mild use, such as a few short phone calls and/or text message each day. For the confines of this question I'm sticking with the cell phone's default charger and default hardware/software.

Things I'm looking to be answered would be:

  1. Should I try to keep the battery at "full charge" (as determined by the manufacturer) as much as possible? Or should I try to cycle the power from full to nearly empty before recharging?
  2. Should charging be performed routinely (i.e. every night before going to bed), or should I let the battery charge indicator determine my charging patterns?
  3. My phone in particular has a message pop-up saying that I should disconnect my phone from the charger to "conserve energy". Should I follow that advice and allow the phone to use the battery, or should I try to leave the phone plugged in until I want to leave for somewhere?
  4. What's the reasoning behind your answer? And I suppose most importantly how much does it matter with Li-ion batteries (i.e. how much more life can I expect using a good practice vs. a bad one)?
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Accept appreciated BUT it can be wise to wait a day or so (or more) to see who else may add to the answers. Some dislike answering once an answer has been accepted. \$\endgroup\$
    – Russell McMahon
    Sep 2, 2012 at 0:43

2 Answers 2


LiIon is usually charged at constant current until a max allowed voltage is reached and then is held at that voltage while current tails off under "control" of chemistry of battery until Ichg = k% of Imax where k% is chosen according to longevity or max energy concerns.50% or 25% of Imax gives longer life. 10% or 5% tail gives max capacity but lower life.

Lowering Vpedesatl by 0.1V greatly assists battery life.

Discharging to higher cutoff voltage aids cycle life.

LiIon also has calendar life and starts self destructing from day one so a lightly used battery still dies.

Best cycle life is achieved by stopping charge when Vpedestal is reached and systen changes from CC to Cv. By monitoring voltage this point can be observed. You could even do a "dumb" system that simply watched delta Vbat and declared constant V when delta fell to zero. Only slightly more than a comparator and an RC delay in one input would achieve that.(While Vin is ramping a delayed vin is lower. When Vin pedestals the delayed Vin almost catches up. An offset voltage is needed to allow comparator towork).

LiIon cells mechanically flex the cell as metallic Lithium is "plated" in and out of the cell*. Cycle life is in large part due to battery beating itself to death mechanically.(This is why LiFePO4 lasts much longer and has lower capacity - the material is held in an Olivine matrix that maintains constant shape as active material is moved in/out BUT it takes up some space. )

*Note: Bill Dubuque has suggested that this sentence would be better replaced with " 'LiIon cells mechanically flex the cell as Lithium ions are intercalated".
The distinction is a finer one than may be apparent. However, it is true to say that if you cut open a LiIon cell you would not usually find metallic Lithium in it. Bill notes that this makes primary Lithium cells, which do contain metallic Lithium, a greater fire hazard than LiIon cells.
If you charge a LiIon cell with excessive voltage metallic Lithium will be 'plated out' and "vent with flames" mode usually occurs at about the same time.

Charge to CV level as often and as soon as possible.

If charging all the way their "disconnect message" is a sign of bad ethos. They are probably trying to minimise the risk of fire without telling you.

For longest storage life (as opposed to long life in regular use) storing at a lower voltage than Vmax is in order. Probably at about 3.6 V and only about 30% state of charge. The various Mars Rovers use LiIon batteries and have a design life of about 8000 cycles - but charge to about 3.6 - 3.7 V maximum.
8000 / 365(~=) ~= 22 Terran years.

  • \$\begingroup\$ It seems you are confusing (primary) Lithium metal cells with (secondary) Li-ion. There is no Lithium metal in Li-ion cells, nor any "metallic Lithium plating in and out of the cell". Rather, there is intercalation of Lithium ions. See here for a basic overview. Note in particular the statement "This (Li-ion) type of battery is inherently safer because in contrast to the metallic state where Li is reduced in Li-metal batteries, in the Li-ion battery, lithium is always confined to the ionic state." \$\endgroup\$ Nov 23, 2015 at 23:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ Information only: Bill's comment gets into areas that are more complex than needed for this discussion. While to some extent he is technically correct focusing on the aspects raised decreases value of the answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Russell McMahon
    May 21, 2016 at 0:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you replace 'LiIon cells mechanically flex the cell as metallic Lithium is "plated"' by 'LiIon cells mechanically flex the cell as Lithium ions are intercalated" then the answer will no longer be propagating said widespread confusion between primary (nonrechargeable) Lithium-metal cells and secondary (rechargeable) Li-ion cells. Then we can delete these comments. The distinction is very important (e.g. firefighting techniques for Lithium metal cells are much more difficult due to the presence of metallic Lithium). \$\endgroup\$ May 21, 2016 at 1:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BillDubuque see added note \$\endgroup\$
    – Russell McMahon
    May 23, 2016 at 12:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ Why not remove the false claim to avoid confusion? Remark that Lithium metal usually only plates out when cells are abused or defective, e.g. when they are charged at too high current, or in extremely cold conditions, or if there are defects that cause locally higher current. Normally there is protection that prevents such abuse in properly designed Li-ion battery packs, so there is typically little if any metallic Lithium in Li-ion cells, which is why FAA etc can recommend water as a method of fighting Li-ion battery fires, but not Li-metal battery fires. \$\endgroup\$ May 23, 2016 at 19:07

Temperature is one of the greatest factors that influence battery life. So if the phone is running hot all the time, the battery life will be compromised. Also, there is nothing wrong with charging the battery up to 100% - it's designed to be charged to 100%. Technically, it can be charged past 100% because there's safety margin built in to the battery design. Th real killer of battery life is charge and discharge cycles. Cell phone batteries (Li-ion) have a charge/discharge cycle time of some few hundred charge cycles before some % of capacity is reduced. Also, how discharged the battery becomes (depth-of-charge) before it's recharged influences battery life - shorter is better.

If the manufacture has dedicated software for maintaining battery heath, that is going to be your best bet - they have a team of engineers that know their hardware and what's best for the system.

There is little benefit to leaving the battery charged to 80% all the time - you are artificially reducing the effective capacity of your battery, effectively the very thing you are trying to mitigate in the first place.

I have a 17 year old laptop plugged in all the time charged to 100% and it still has most of its capacity - it never power cycles except for special purposes once every 2 - 3 years.

In short, keep the battery cool, minimize power cycling, use manufactures optimization software.


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