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How to Tell If Your Cell Phone Battery Is Ruined

by B. Steele

Rechargeable cell phone battery packs start degrading as soon as they leave the factory. After a few years, most will require replacement. However, battery life is also largely dependent on how you use your phone, the environment and your charging habits. If you suspect that your phone’s battery is on its way out, there are several telltale signs to look for.

Step 1

Charge your battery to its full capacity, and note how long it takes for the battery to deplete. Compare this time with the manufacturer’s specification in your phone’s user manual. Batteries that are approaching the end of their useful lives deplete at a faster and faster rate over time.

Step 2

Observe how the phone performs when running on battery power. If a battery is bad, the phone may shut off without warning or have problems turning on. However, the issue could also be due to a dirty contact, so try removing the battery from the phone and cleaning the gold contact with a cotton swab or soft cloth moistened with isopropyl alcohol. Allow the contacts to fully dry before reinstalling the battery.

Check the water strip on the battery. Normally the strip is a neutral color like white, and the strip reacts when exposed to water, turning pink, blue or another color. If the strip has turned a different color, your battery may have water damage and need to be replaced. Aside from direct contact with water, this damage can also occur from condensation if you regularly move between warm and cold locations, such as between a heated office and the outdoors in winter.

Warnings

  • Excessively charging your phone can reduce your battery life. Rather than charging your phone every day, do so every few days if possible.
  • To maximize battery life, avoid exposing your phone to extreme temperatures -- hot or cold.

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