How to make lithium-ion batteries last for years

Fred Langa

The lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries used in most of today’s tablets, smartphones, and portable PCs require very different care and feeding than with the nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) and nickel-metal-hydride (Ni-MH) batteries used in earlier devices.

In fact, proper care of a Li-ion battery can result in as much as 15 times longer service life than with an improperly cared-for battery. Here’s how to make sure that your expensive Li-ion batteries last as long as possible in all your portable devices.

I recently had to replace a damaged smartphone — and it was all my fault.

The symptom was ominous: my phone’s case became distorted — the body of the phone actually started to bend.

On inspection, it turned out, the phone’s Li-ion battery had actually swollen.

At first, I hadn’t noticed the change; the battery looked more or less normal when viewed face on (see Figure 1). But when I removed the battery and placed it onto a flat surface, it became obvious that the battery’s front and back were no longer flat and parallel; one side of the battery had developed a substantial bulge, as shown in Figure 2. This bulge is what had caused the body of the phone to bend.

Battery from top

Figure 1. The damaged battery looked more or less normal when viewed face-on.

Battery from end

Figure 2. But an end-on view of the battery showed a noticeable distortion. Instead of lying flat, one side bulged out — enough to deform the body of the phone.

The bulge indicated something severe: a high-pressure buildup of toxic gases inside the battery.



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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2015-08-13:

Fred Langa

About Fred Langa

Fred Langa is senior editor. His LangaList Newsletter merged with Windows Secrets on Nov. 16, 2006. Prior to that, Fred was editor of Byte Magazine (1987 to 1991) and editorial director of CMP Media (1991 to 1996), overseeing Windows Magazine and others.