Wireless charging isn’t new, and yet a lot of iPhone owners still don’t know much about it.
Or, what they do know is negative. You may have heard one of the following:
- A wireless charging pad is going to ruin your phone’s battery!
- Phones get really hot on a wireless charger – just use the cable instead.
- Wireless charging is super slow, and it’s going to take a long time to charge your phone.
Yes, when this technology first hit the market, there were issues with wireless charging pads. Some required very precise placement of your phone in order to charge; some charged at an extra slow rate. Thanks to improved technology, though, these issues are long gone.
First, let’s talk about why wireless charging is extra convenient.
Wireless charging means you don’t have to go through the trouble of plugging your phone into your cable, and then the cable into the adapter and the wall. If you think that’s never an issue, think about the times you’ve tried to plug your phone in to charge in the middle of the night in a dark room, or first thing in the morning when you want to check your email from bed. On top of ease, wireless charging means your charging port is being used less often, warding off wear and tear that can become costly.
Now, let’s talk about battery degradation.
There’s a prevalent rumor out there that wireless charging of the iPhone 8 can degrade the battery at a faster pace than traditional wired charging.
It doesn’t, though, and here’s the science behind it:
Smartphones use lithium-ion batteries, and the cells have a cathode and an anode (which are both electrodes). There is an electrolyte between these electrodes which is how the lithium ions move between them. When you charge your phone, the lithium ions move from positive to negative; when you stop charging your phone (or when you “discharge” it), the lithium ions move from negative to positive.
The company that manufactures the battery chooses how much energy the cell can store – i.e., how much energy the battery has for you to use, including the upper and lower voltage cut-offs.
So long as the manufacturer has chosen the right voltage range, the cell can be cycled over and over. Also, you can’t go above or below the limits the manufacturer has set, even if you keep your phone charging all night long, regardless of the power source.
The bottom line.
If the manufacturer designed the battery correctly, the type of charger you have – wired or wireless – doesn’t matter.
Since the quality of the battery plays a role in how many times it can be charged before degradation, you want to go with a smartphone company that’s reliable, which is why a lot of people opt for an iPhone.
A common complaint about wireless charging pads is that they cause the phone to heat up, and high heat can be damaging, even lethal, to a phone. However, this happens with some charging cables, too, and the issue has to do with the quality of the charging device, not the type of charging itself. Purchase a wireless charging pad that’s Qi-certified, which means it’s been tested to make sure it’s safe and energy-efficient. Some wireless chargers also have cooling systems built right in.
Battery cycle limits and normal degradation.
While different smartphone batteries have different standards, your phone’s battery will have a certain number of charge cycles that it can handle. After that number of charge cycles is reached, the battery is going to degrade. With the iPhone, the battery will keep up to 80% of its original capacity after 500 charge cycles.
Some believe that when a smartphone charges with a traditional wired charger, the battery can rest when it’s fully charged, but if it’s on a wireless charging pad, it doesn’t get that break. They assume that this causes the battery to go through its charging cycles faster, leading to degradation sooner. Wireless charging doesn’t drain the battery, though, which means it doesn’t push it toward that cycle limit.
There is a way to slow down the frequency of charge cycles, though.
Limit your phone use.
Certain apps that constantly run in the background are zapping your battery’s energy, which means it needs to be charged sooner rather than later – and just like that, another charge cycle is gone, all for an app you don’t even know is in use.
You can also keep your phone in the perfect battery range. Your battery will last for longer if you keep it charged between 50 and 80 percent. If you’re able to keep topping off the battery to stay between this range, the lifetime of the battery can potentially increase by four times.