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How to tell if your smartphone's battery is healthy or bad (iPhone and Android guide)

Posted: , by Nick T.

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How to tell if your smartphone's battery is healthy or bad (iPhone and Android guide)
A smartphone without a battery is like a time machine without a 1.21-gigawatt nuclear power source. In other words, it is useless – the battery is what provides that magic juice every smartphone needs to operate. 

Unfortunately, even if you take good care of your smartphone's battery, it will inevitably degrade over time and lose some of its charge capacity. At that point, it might be hard to tell if the cell is still in good health or in need of a replacement. That's why we thought we'd share a few tips on the matter.

Perform a visual inspection

You don't need to be a rocket scientist to tell a faulty battery from a healthy one. In fact, some common battery failures are easy to spot with a naked eye. If the battery of your phone is removable, simply take it out with caution (after turning the phone off, of course) and look for symptoms like bulging, corrosion near the metal terminals, and green or white-ish stains. These are all signs that the cell is about to kick the bucket. If you don't see anything wrong with it, proceed to the next tip. If you find suspicious stains or if your cell has developed a hump, however, it is a good idea to ask your carrier or vendor for advice as your battery most likely needs to be replaced. Don't put the old cell back inside the phone as you don't want it leaking any nasty chemicals; these may damage the phone's circuitry. Instead, seal the battery in a plastic zip bag and make sure you recycle it once it is confirmed to be faulty by a professional.

Do a spin test

Your phone's battery should not spin like this

Your phone's battery should not spin like this

Lithium-based batteries degrade with each discharge cycle. Not storing them properly makes matters even worse – extreme heat or cold may seriously shorten their lifespan. Another way to ruin a perfectly good battery is to drain it and leave it with no charge for a long time. Eventually, a battery might swell if not treated with care. This swelling happens slowly, usually over the course of weeks and even months, which is why a hump that has just started forming on the battery's side can be pretty hard to notice. To check if your battery cell is fine, try spinning it on a flat surface – if it spins, it might have gone bad. Obviously, this tip applies to user-removable batteries only.

Observe how fast your battery level drops

Not all phones have batteries that can be easily inspected by the user. If that's the case with your handset, you can diagnose the health of its cell by monitoring how fast its charge level drops. It is not supposed to drop by two or more percentage points at a time. (Most phones allow you to have their battery level displayed as a percentage in the status bar. If you can't find the option in its settings menu, try using a widget.) And if your battery goes from full to zero in a matter of hours even when you barely use your phone, its is probably a goner.

More battery diagnostics tips

iPhone users, here's something you might not know. Your iPhone keeps track of how many times its battery gets charged, and it also monitors the actual capacity of the cell inside it. However, this information is meant to be accessed only by Apple's support staff, hence you won't find it in your settings menu. Thankfully, there's a workaround. You just need to get iBackupBot – an all-in-one utility for managing iDevices, available on both Mac and PC (Download link). As soon as you connect your iPhone to a computer with iBackupBot running, the application will detect it and let you access detailed information about it. In iBackupBot, highlight your phone in the list of devices and choose "More Information". There you'll find your iPhone's charge cycle count, as well as the actual capacity of its battery. If the FullChargeCapacity figure is much lower than the one under DesignCapacity, then the battery may have to be replaced. (Keep in mind that a lithium-based battery usually loses about 20% of its capacity after 500 charge cycles.)

Android users, your phone also stores data about the health of its battery cell. To access it, try entering the code *#*#4636#*#* in your dialer –this should take you to a service menu where battery details are shown. If the code doesn't work, try Battery by MicroPinch (Download link). It is a simple battery monitoring tool where the health status of your battery is displayed, along with its voltage and temperature. 

More battery tips and tricks for iPhone and Android users

  • Options

posted on 08 Feb 2015, 12:49

1. grivera96 (Posts: 3; Member since: 04 May 2014)

Thanks for the info. It works on my ipad (shows 12 cycles), but on my ipod touch it says 0. I have it since june 2014 and I would really like to know how many battery cycles it really has. Any alternatives for ios devices?

posted on 08 Feb 2015, 12:52 1

2. Neros (Posts: 1016; Member since: 19 Dec 2014)

3rd pic code doesn't work on TW with android 4.4.2.

posted on 08 Feb 2015, 13:01 2

3. Fluffy3477 (Posts: 4; Member since: 05 Apr 2014)

the code does not work on my GS5 5.0

posted on 08 Feb 2015, 14:58 1

10. UglyFrank (Posts: 1939; Member since: 23 Jan 2014)

Mine too

posted on 08 Feb 2015, 15:16 2

11. Calzone (Posts: 12; Member since: 04 Feb 2015)

*#0228# works on almost any TW device.

posted on 08 Feb 2015, 19:47

16. defcon888 (Posts: 39; Member since: 03 Nov 2014)

worked....thanks....Samsung Note 3

posted on 08 Feb 2015, 14:07

7. Wiencon (Posts: 2022; Member since: 06 Aug 2014)

Awesome article, thanks PA.

posted on 08 Feb 2015, 14:17

8. Sealblaighter (Posts: 307; Member since: 26 Jan 2014)

"Lithium-based battery usually loses about 20% of it's capacity after 500 charge cycles."
This is about Lithium Polimer batteries or about Li-Ion type too??

posted on 09 Feb 2015, 07:09

20. RandomUsername (Posts: 808; Member since: 29 Oct 2013)

Lithium-Polymer is a type of Li-Ion battery.

posted on 09 Feb 2015, 14:53

21. Sealblaighter (Posts: 307; Member since: 26 Jan 2014)

So this means every battery for mobile devices loses of it's capacity after 500 charge cycle right?

posted on 08 Feb 2015, 14:30

9. tttony (Posts: 29; Member since: 22 Jul 2012)

Cool! Tested on Xperia P 4.1.2

posted on 08 Feb 2015, 16:40 2

13. kaikuheadhunterz (Posts: 1157; Member since: 18 Jul 2013)

*1.21 jiga-watts

posted on 19 Apr 2015, 11:46

25. pegasso (Posts: 285; Member since: 27 Nov 2011)

true! it was spelled "jiga-watts"

posted on 08 Feb 2015, 19:17 2

15. Sidewinder (Posts: 513; Member since: 15 Jan 2015)

Times when a non user removable battery becomes a curse.

posted on 08 Feb 2015, 19:49

17. namesib (Posts: 97; Member since: 08 Feb 2015)

"It will inevitably degrade over time and lose some of its charge capacity" Yep, or just not function properly (phone switching off suddenly then losing most of its reported charge after switching it on again). I do not want to send my phone to a service centre, which is why I have no intention of buying a device without a removable battery.

posted on 09 Feb 2015, 00:48

18. KidAndroid (Posts: 32; Member since: 04 Nov 2014)

Well then I'd keep your phone you have now as more and more manufacturers stop using removable batteries your soon not going to be able to get a device with a removable battery. Even Samsung who is praised by many for their removable battery capability is said to be ending their removable batteries this year starting with the Galaxy S6. I'm with you though as I'm a huge fan of removable batteries but I'd buy devices with a non-removable battery and have many times, I just usually get rid of my devices when I get a new one so I've actually never had any battery issues with batteries sealed or removable.

posted on 09 Feb 2015, 01:35

19. livyatan (Posts: 867; Member since: 19 Jun 2013)

This is why removable battery is a must for me.
If Samsung drops that feature for their entire llineup, they will lose the last respect I hold for them.

posted on 10 Feb 2015, 15:48

22. Stuntman (Posts: 839; Member since: 01 Aug 2011)

I had a battery bulge on me. Replaced it with a new one now.

posted on 12 Feb 2015, 09:49

23. GalaxyS5 (banned) (Posts: 430; Member since: 05 Aug 2014)

If a battery is draining quickly, while not showing humps and bumps on it, it's time to "calibrate" your battery if you're rooted, or to reset your smartphone if not rooted. dad used to have problems with the note 3 he had after a year of purchasing it. I rooted the smartphone, calibrated the battery and it worked like heaven. and so does reset worked for me before. but if the battery is dead just buy another one.

posted on 17 Mar 2015, 00:29

24. b3rno93 (Posts: 1; Member since: 06 Jan 2015)

Well, i didn't knew that, and its funny cuz I did it, and then I looked at the pic, and noticed that its the same Launcher, so you do use Zenfones, it must be the new one(a test model probably), but still, I just love that UI

posted on 06 Jan 2016, 16:01

26. harrigrassy (Posts: 1; Member since: 06 Jan 2016)

Probably you didn't know that almost every battery, old or dead, can be reconditioned to be useful again! This can save you lot of money and it's also a way you can contribute to protect the environment :)

Check this link to learn more about it! reconditionyouroldbattery.co.nf

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