Nothing lasts forever – especially not smartphone batteries. The small lithium-ion power plants that run your iPhone or Android phone are all consumables, which means they have a limited lifespan. The longer you hang on your device the more your battery will break down and eventually it will need to be replaced.
Smartphone batteries usually do not just pull out. There are clear tips over time, mostly related to your phone’s performance. You may notice that the device responds slowly to taps and prompts or that apps take longer to start or respond to commands. Or maybe your phone drops faster than before, is slower to turn on, never turns on up to 100%, turns off unexpectedly under normal conditions, or does not work if it is not connected to the charger. Other, more ominous signs include the phone warming up while charging or feeling thicker (perhaps the result of a broken battery), or there may be no signs of life no matter what you do. Either of these circumstances can signal a battery that breaks, is dead or even dangerous.
Other performance bumps can be caused by a battery-demanding app or an operating system feature (like iOS 13 and its infamous battery operation) that can make it difficult to diagnose battery problems.
Current iPhone and Android operating systems can provide some tips to warn you that your battery has run out that may prepare you for the ultimate decision on what to do. Unfortunately, replacing smartphone batteries is not as easy as replacing a flashlight or remote control. Replacing smartphone batteries can be costly and time consuming.
Apple provides a variety of tools in its newer operating systems to help you determine battery health and provide you with solid information on whether it needs to be replaced soon. For Android phones, the operating system is less useful, but that does not mean that you are completely in the dark when it comes to battery condition. How to tell if your smartphone battery needs to be replaced.
How to tell if your iPhone battery needs to be replaced
In late 2017, Apple admitted to an upset customer base that they had deliberately and secretly strangled some of their older phones to stabilize performance caused by aging batteries. From iPhone 6 and iOS 11.3 you can go to Settings> Battery> Battery health, a tool that reveals important information about the current state of the battery and even recommends replacing a battery. You can disable the performance management feature – even if you risk unexpected shutdowns if your battery deteriorates.
When you press Battery healthyou can easily see relevant statistics. Maximum capacity is a percentage that measures current capacity compared to 100% when your battery was new. A range of that percentage is normal, but a healthy battery should retain about 80% of its original capacity at 500 charge cycles. If the capacity drops below 80%, Apple recommends that you replace the battery.
You can see if the performance management feature, which handles iPhone’s maximum performance and prevents shutdown, is enabled and you can turn it off on all iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, SE, 7 and 7 Plus. This feature is activated only after an unexpected shutdown on a device whose battery power has decreased. If you disable performance management, you can not turn it on again, but it will restart automatically in the event of a new unexpected shutdown. The feature is included in iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X with iOS 12.1 and in iPhone XS, XS Max and XR with iOS 13.1.
The iPhone’s Battery Health feature can deliver several messages that give you a good idea of the current state of the battery. Below, the messages are displayed verbatim. Message number four is the only indication that your battery is severely degraded and needs to be replaced.
- Your battery currently supports normal peak performance.
- This iPhone has experienced an unexpected shutdown because the battery could not deliver the necessary peak power. Performance management has been applied to prevent this from happening again. Disabling …
- This iPhone has experienced an unexpected shutdown because the battery could not deliver the necessary peak power. You have manually disabled performance management protection.
- The health of the battery deteriorates significantly. An Apple Authorized Reseller may replace the battery to restore full performance and capacity. More about service options …
- Unable to verify that this iPhone has a genuine Apple battery. Health information not available for this battery. Read more …
- This iPhone cannot determine the health of the battery. An Apple Authorized Service Provider may service the battery. More about service options …
Replacing your iPhone battery is not cheap: it costs $ 49 for older iPhones or $ 69 for iPhone X and later, if you buy directly from Apple. An Apple Authorized Service Provider like Best Buy can also do the job, or if you’re brave and handy, you can order a battery replacement from iFixit, which sells iPhone battery packs for models from 4s to 8 Plus for between $ 15 and $ 45.
How to tell if your Android phone’s battery needs to be replaced
Android phones provide some control over how you can save battery life and offer some information on how to control battery-intensive apps. But they have fewer domestic resources to directly analyze and save battery health. Older phones and Android operating systems let you check by opening the dialer app and dialing * # * # 4636 # * # * and tapping Battery information to view the status of your Android device’s battery. However, I could not access that information on a Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge running Android 6 or on an LG V40 ThinQ running Android 9.
Some third-party apps available in the Google Play Store may help.
This app is designed to measure the actual battery usage with data derived from the battery charge controller. Android calculates battery usage from device manufacturers, but this app takes longer to measure battery capacity. It uses the charge alarm to improve the life, determines the battery wear at each charge, calculates the discharge rate and battery consumption per app, quantifies how long it takes before the battery is charged and more.
With this app you get an overview of the overall health and status of the battery, with data that includes the percentage of battery power, temperature and capacity. A battery cooler function keeps the phone cool by lowering the battery temperature and slowing down the power consumption. It also allows you to select custom battery saving modes to customize the settings specifically for how you use your phone.
Battery tool and widget for Android
This app specializes in monitoring and optimizing your battery, recording information and controlling power consumption. It calculates the remaining charge time based on power consumption and shows battery status, temperature, health, voltage, power profile diagram, customizable energy saving mode, optimized battery saving mode and more.
If you notice that your phone is bulging in the middle or feels very hot on or off the charger, it is a sign of a bad battery that you need to stop using immediately and get service. The exploding battery episode from Samsung Note 7, where the device’s batteries overheated and exploded, is unlikely to fade from memory at any time.
If you are starting with a brand new smartphone, you should expect your battery to function optimally for at least two or three years under normal conditions of use. You can conserve your smartphone battery by not letting it overheat or maintain abuse and by charging with care. But if you keep your phone longer than that, battery problems should not come as a shock. At that time, given the price of batteries for out-of-warranty phones, you may choose to replace the battery or even consider buying a new phone.