Is charging the phone all night harmful to the battery?

Ink Pixels / Shutterstock.com

Smartphones have developed a lot over the years, but they still basically last for about a day of charging. This means that most of us charge our battery all night long while we’re asleep. Is it good for the battery?

Contrary to appearances, battery technology has improved significantly. The problem is phones can do much more now, which means they require more power. The end result is bigger, better batteries that still need to be recharged every day.

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Information changes

What complicates this situation is a lot of conflicting information. You may have heard that charging your phone overnight is bad. Maybe you’ve heard it’s perfectly fine.

Part of this confusion comes from advances in battery technology. Things that were once true are no longer true. It’s a natural part of learning more about how it all works. So what’s going on now? Let’s dive in.

How charging works

Smartphone and tablet charging.
Amazon

The moral of the story is similar to the other topics on how to “properly” use gadgets. For the most part, the device is designed to handle whatever you are worried about. For example, you don’t need to close your Android app, it is designed to handle multitasking for you.

Smartphones are designed with security features to protect the battery and other components inside. One thing that can damage phones is overheating, which brings up a lot of overnight charging issues.

Most phones charge quickly the first time they are plugged in or placed on the wireless charger. This is because if you just need extra juice in a hurry you don’t have to wait long. However, after a while, charging will slow down and stop completely when it reaches 100%.

Obviously, since it stops charging to 100%, the battery will slowly discharge. When it drops to 99% again, it will drink a very small amount of energy to get back to 100%. This cycle repeats itself until you disconnect it from the power supply. The phone is never overcharged, but it charges almost all the time.

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Advanced protection

Battery image showing first 80% is fast charge, last 20% is trickle charge
Apple

You may have heard that it is best to keep the battery 20-80% charged. Apple and some Android makers have introduced additional features to keep your phone in this range as much as possible.

As of iOS 13 of 2019, iPhones have the “Optimized Battery Charging” feature. Once powered on, the phone will stay around 80% most nights. The algorithm learns when you usually wake up and charges the device to the end. You still start your day 100%, but you haven’t been driving between 100 and 99% all night.

Some Android devices have essentially the same function. OnePlus calls it “optimized charging”; Google Pixel phones have “adaptive charging”. Samsung Galaxy devices go a step further and let you keep your battery power down to 85% all the time.

If you’re charging your phone overnight, it’s a good idea to enable these features if you have them. This makes charging at night a bit less problematic.

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How do we define “bad”?

Pixel battery illustration.
Google

With these safeguards in place, it is very, very difficult to do any undue damage to the phone’s battery. However, batteries do degrade over time, and there is nothing anyone can do about it. It’s just a matter of how much you help in the process.

Charging cycles affect battery life. The more charge cycles it goes through, the more the battery wears out. Hence, it is best to keep the phone as charged as 20-80% as possible.

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This is where overnight charging can speed up the battery degradation process. 99-100% cycling for a few hours is like turning a light on and off. This won’t cause the bulb to explode in flames, but it’s also not particularly good for the bulb.

That’s the question we have to ask when it comes to charging the batteries overnight. What exactly does “bad” mean for a battery? Will your phone overheat and catch fire? No, there are safeguards to prevent this from happening – as long as you are using the correct hardware. Will this take some battery life away? Yes, but it may not be noticeable to you.

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Charge overnight without damage

wireless charger
Not Gal / Shutterstock

There are a few things you can do to charge your phone overnight and alleviate some of the downsides. First of all, make sure that the device has a breathing space. Overheating is a big problem, so give it room and don’t cover it with anything.

Another big thing you can do is choose the right charging gear. It is very important to use the chargers provided with the device and specially designed for it. Also, you may want to consider avoiding “fast charging” at bedtime. Reaching 100% slower means spending less time on this 99-100% of your cycle.

Besides, you have to accept the fact that batteries cannot last forever. Using the phone degrades the battery. There is no way around it. There are a few tips you can use to slow down this degradation, but most of us have no other convenient time to recharge our devices. Charging all our devices overnight is now part of life.

Best Phone Chargers 2022


USB C Charger TECKNET 65W PD 3.0 GaN Charger Type C Foldable 3-Port Fast Charger Adapter Compatible with iPhone 13 Pro Max / 13 Pro / 13/13 Mini, MacBook Pro, iPad Pro, Switch, Galaxy S21 / S20

Apple 20W USB-C Power Adapter

Amazon Basics 4-Port 100W GaN Wall Charger with 2 USB-C Ports (65W + 18W) and 2 USB-A Ports (17W) – White (PPS Free)

Anker wireless charger, 313 wireless charger (pad), Qi 10W Max certified for iPhone 12/12 Pro / 12 mini / 12 Pro Max, SE 2020, 11, AirPods (no AC adapter, not compatible with MagSafe magnetic charging)

USB C Car Charger 48W Super Mini AINOPE All Metal Fast USB Car Charger PD&QC 3.0 Dual Port Compatible with iPhone 13 12 11 Pro Max X XR XS 8 Samsung Galaxy Note 20/10 S21 / 20/10 Google Pixel

11-port Techsmarter charging station with 100 W, five USB-C PD ports, PPS 25/45 W, five USB-A 18 W ports and a detachable wireless charging pad 15 W. Compatible with MacBook, iPad, iPhone, Samsung, Dell, HP, Yoga …

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