Smartphone ailing? Here's how to check your battery's health

You know by now your phone's battery performance degrades the older it gets. That's just how lithium-ion batteries work, unfortunately. With each charging cycle, they wear down a bit. Eventually, it becomes too big a problem to ignore.

Let's look at the symptoms – and see how to check your battery health.

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Signs you can’t ignore

◾ Your phone’s battery used to stay charged for over a day. Now, you're looking for an outlet by the afternoon.

◾ You unplug your phone, only to see the battery level drop quickly, even though you're not doing anything unusual.

◾ You leave your phone plugged in for hours, but it never returns to a full charge.

◾ Your phone is off-the-charts hot when it’s charging. You may even notice a physical bulge. Unplug it immediately if this happens, or you risk a fire or worse.

Apple makes it easy

It’s simple to see if your iPhone battery is struggling with a few clicks.

◾ Open Settings > Battery > Battery Health & Charging.

At the top, you'll see your battery's maximum capacity. Don't panic if it's below 100%. Your battery’s designed to maintain 80% of its original capacity by 500 charges so that that percentage will tick down over time.

Under Peak Performance Capability, you'll see whether your battery is operating normally. If it’s seriously degraded, you'll see a message here.

It’s a little trickier on an Android

Most manufacturers have different steps. Here are a few to try:

◾ Open the Phone app, dial *#*#4636#*#* and look for an option to check your battery health. If you don't see it, try another option.

◾ On Samsung, open the built-in Samsung Members app. Tap Get Help > Check Android battery health.

◾ Apps like AccuBattery can provide a good estimate if all else fails.

Sorry, but your laptop battery won't last forever, either. Here’s how to check yours.

Charge better

No matter how old your phone is, a few tips and tricks can help you get the most out of that battery.

Don’t rely on knock-off chargers

High-quality chargers have circuits inside of them that switch off when there’s too much power draw. This protects your phone battery from overcharging, breaking, or overheating.

Heat is your battery’s biggest enemy. Some cheap chargers and cables have even led to fire and injuries. Saving money is excellent, but don’t skimp on quality here.

Be careful with power banks

Cheap power banks can ruin your battery over time. Be sure any power bank you use has overcharge protection. If not, you can still use it, but keep an eye out. Once your battery is almost full, unplug it.

It’s best to avoid power banks with quick charge options unless they’re from a reliable brand. Here’s a rule of thumb: Say no if you’ve never heard of it.

Don’t download battery-draining apps

Lithium-ion and lithium-polymer phone batteries only have limited charging cycles before they degrade. This is why most people encounter battery problems after two years of use.

There’s nothing you can do about your battery wearing down eventually, but some things have more of an impact. If you have performance apps that monitor your battery life, they could harm it in the long run. These apps constantly use power to monitor your battery life.

Don’t use your phone while it’s charging

Your phone is at 1%, so you plug it in. Leave it alone! Using your phone while charging can rapidly increase the temperature, putting strain on your battery, screen, and processor.

Take it out of the case

When it comes to charging, phone cases can cause temperature problems. When your phone battery heats up too much, it can cause damage to the rest of your phone. To be safe, take the case off while you charge – especially if you notice your phone heats up while it’s plugged in.

Keep your tech-know going

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: How to check your phone battery's health with a few simple steps