Fact and fiction about your cell phone battery

31 Mar

March 31, 2014 – I have to admit, I was surprised by this one. For years, I subscribed to the belief that cell phone batteries should be well drained before recharging. The thinking was, if you didn’t train the battery by taking it from full to empty almost every time, eventually it would forget its own capacity and thus slip into decline.

You’ve heard it too, right?

Well, it’s wrong. It’s a myth. In fact, you can damage the battery if you run it from full to empty all the time.

I learned this at gizmodo.com, a credible technology site that I graze fairly frequently.

“Battery memory is a real thing,” the article states, “but it applies to nickel-based batteries. Your trusty (phone) doubtlessly has a lithium-ion battery, and it needs to be treated a little differently.”

To extend the life of your lithium-ion battery, you need to keep charged at 40 percent or more as much as possible. Never, ever run the battery to zero percent, as this can cause serious damage. And if you can help it, don’t charge the battery all the way to 100 percent every time. Apparently, the ideal is to charge it to 80 percent, run it to 40 and then recharge. It is advisable to drain it almost completely once a month for “calibration,” but that’s it.

And that is the exact opposite of what I’ve been doing. How about you?

One other thing: lithium-ion batteries don’t like heat. This includes running heat, so keep the phone well ventilated if you’re using it constantly (that is, don’t keep it cupped in the warm palm of your hand). It also includes recharging heat, which is another good reason to stop the charge at 80 percent. And it even includes ambient heat, like being left in a hot car – one of the worst things you can do to your phone’s battery.

To read this article for yourself, go to gizmodo.com and search for ‘How to take care of your smartphone battery the right way.’ And if you Google ‘How to care for lithium-ion batteries’ you will find a variety of sites that support the above – most notably batteryuniversity.com – and even a few that repeat old myths.

Consumertech #164 photo low res

Antenna up

On February 3, I told you about the Tivoli tabletop radio and the issues I encountered with AM radio reception, which was not good, both at home and my place of work.

Soon after that column appeared I received an email from Tivoli’s publicity people, who were “interested in looking into this further and rectifying your unhappiness with your purchase.”

There was some back forth – they had questions about where it was positioned, did I try moving the radio around, was I in a metal building, and so on – but the problem was not resolved. There was talk of bringing the radio in to have it looked at, or even returning the product for refund.

In the end, they came back with a solution that I had already figured out: I needed to buy an external AM antenna. I placed one on back order at West End Electronics, where I purchased the Tivoli.

The antenna arrived two weeks later. I planked down the $12, brought it home, plugged in and switched on.

It was better, to be sure, but not perfect. I tried repositioning the antenna (and radio) several times, but there was still a slight crackle in the background. I took it to work and tried it there, with the same result: an improved signal, but not quite perfect.

It would be easy to blame CBC’s broadcast signal for this, except I have other, much cheaper radios at home and at work and both pull in CBC with perfect clarity.

I’ve decided to keep the Tivoli because it works and sounds great on Bluetooth, both for iPod tunes and streaming radio. But I have to say, I’m disappointed in the quality of radio reception. If you are an avid CBC listener and live in St. John’s (I can’t say this is an issue everywhere), I suggest passing on the Tivoli.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: