Summertime in Saigon marks the end of the school year for the international community. The exodus of expats ensues as families take advantage of the school holidays to go back to their respective countries and teachers set out to explore destinations they have yet to see. Alas, as August approaches, the holidays come to an end and everyone starts to trickle back in.

And every August, like clockwork, we get visits from people who experience the notorious case of what we fondly call at the shop, “the case of the infamous battery bloat”. Same story all around – left their spare phone, tablet or computer in the safe or in a drawer while out of town for the summer holiday and when they return – Poof! They come back to a bulging battery.

Just because your iPhone is off, it still draws incremental amounts of charge from the battery, causing it to slowly, yet continuously, discharge. At the point when the battery’s lithium-ion cells are fully drained, the cells burst causing the battery to bloat. To avoid this, make sure you charge your phones to at least 40% before shelving them for extended periods of time. In this case, a little charge really does go a long way.

What we should remember is that batteries are always in a state of decay. This is what they are designed to do. This means that in time, your battery will not power your device for the same amount of time as when you first got it. So while we’re at it, here are some other tips to maximize your battery’s life.

Keep it Cool

A battery’s worst enemy is heat. Avoid placing it in areas where the ambient temperature is likely to rise above 35 degrees Celcius as this can permanently damage your battery. Similarly, avoid exposing battery-powered devices to extreme cold conditions. Although the latter tends to disable battery function temporarily as opposed to irreversibly damaging it the way heat does. The optimum range for batteries to function are between 16 to 22 degrees.

Live Larger with a Proper Charger

Skimping a few thousand dong on a cheap cable and wall plug is easy on your pocket, but hard on your battery. On the outside, they might look the same, but the reason why those cables at Saigon Square are so cheap is because they use low gauge wires. Basic physics tells us that the amount of power and current those internal wires carry is determined by their length and thickness. Basically, cheap cables have cheap wiring which do not provide the proper amount of amperage to charge a device correctly, hastening the decay of your battery. Likewise, a cheap wall plug that does not juice your battery with the right watts and amps can heat your battery up which decreases its lifespan.

Be a Hero and Don’t Go to Zero

Has anyone ever told you that you should only plug your device in to charge when you hit zero percent? That may have been sound advice for the older nickel-cadmium batteries, but almost all our devices sport a lithium-ion battery, which does not necessarily require cycling a battery to zero. Most electronics gurus will tell you that it’s not so much how many times you plug and unplug your device during the day, but how many ‘charge cycles’ you achieve. The best definition of a battery charge cycle is constituting a charge of a total of 100% (ie. charging from 20%-70% in the morning is a 50% charge or ‘half cycle’, and then charging it again in the afternoon from 50%-100%  is another 50%, bringing it to a ‘full cycle’).  Most batteries have a lifespan of about one thousand charge cycles and if we consider that the average user cycles their phone battery everyday, for example, then we would need to replace our phone batteries every two and half years.

The Overnight Charging Debate

We have to thank advancements in modern battery technology as most devices today have software and hardware enhancements which significantly reduce their current draw once battery charge has hit 100%. However, the debate on whether or not overnight charging is good for a device is a prevalent topic in tech-geek circles. What’s worth considering is that battery charging is a heat-inductive mechanism and even though today’s tech cuts current to a fully charged battery, it’s still plugged in which means it’s still drawing a trickle of electrical power. This can potentially cause a battery to overheat while you’re asleep, especially if you’re not equipped with proper charging accessories. Perhaps an overnighter from time to time may not be so detrimental to our batteries, but doing it on a regular basis may not be ideal.

If you don’t get anything out of this article, perhaps at least this makes you think twice about leaving your charging phone under your pillow when you fall asleep at night.