An Overview of the Lithium-Ion Batteries That Power the Tech World


Lithium-ion batteries are the most common type of battery used in modern consumer electronics, including mobile phones, tablets, and laptops. They also have major implications in renewable energy storage and for use in the batteries of electric vehicles.

Lithium-ion batteries offer a multitude of advantages over other classes of batteries, such as nickel-cadmium and lead-acid batteries. Compared to these other types of batteries, lithium-ion batteries are lighter, more energy dense, more environmentally friendly, and more reliable over years of use.

These batteries function by a set of reversible oxidation-reduction chemical reactions, where the forward reaction dominates while discharging, and the reverse reaction dominates while charging. As a device is charged, the input of electricity drives the reverse reaction. During these reactions, charged lithium ions are transported between the anode and cathode through an electrolyte solution. The movement of the charged atoms results in the flow of electrons, which is what is used to power the device.

Some tech-savvy readers may remember that the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 was recalled after the phone caught fire multiple times. These incidents were determined to have been caused by manufacturing defects within the battery, which were later corrected. The Note 7 illustrates an important point that few electronics consumers likely fully understand. The batteries within your smartphone, tablet, or computer are extremely flammable, and pose a major health risk if punctured, water damaged, or otherwise deformed. This is why it is extremely important to get your battery replaced by a professional if it is water damaged, swelling, or crushed. Do not try to replace a lithium-ion battery yourself, as bending or puncturing the battery during removal is likely if you do not have the proper tools or expertise.

Like all batteries, the electrochemical components of lithium-ion batteries degrade over time. As hundreds of charge cycles are completed, this degradation leads to diminished overall storage capacity. What this means for the consumer is that the capacity of lithium ion batteries falls over time. While battery technology is constantly improving, most modern smartphone batteries last about 2 years before becoming significantly degraded.

However, there are ways for the consumer to improve the lifespan of their lithium-ion batteries, especially on phones and tablets. First and foremost, only chargers that are produced by, or certified by, the manufacturer of your device should be used. Non-approved chargers can operate at an incorrect voltage or current, which can reduce the lifespan of your battery. Exposing your phone to temperatures below freezing or above 100 degrees Fahrenheit for prolonged periods of time can also damage your battery, and these conditions should be avoided if possible. Finally, an easy way to improve your battery’s lifespan is to consistently close applications that are running in the background of your device. Most modern devices offer a way to close all open applications, so check on the manufacturer’s website if you don’t know how to do this. Closing applications running in the background will both slow the rate at which your phone battery discharges and will also slow the degradation of your battery.

Most modern flagship phones offer battery health information as a feature. For example, a phone that displays that it has 80% battery capacity can only charge to 80% of what it could charge to when the battery was new. Even if your phone displays that it is 100% charged, in this case, it would actually only have 80% of the maximum capacity of the battery.

Lithium-ion battery technology is constantly evolving and is an active area of research across the country and globe. Current research is focused on improving energy density, increasing charging speed, and adapting Li-ion batteries for use in new applications. The possibility of using non-flammable components is also being investigated, although it would likely come at the cost of battery efficiency.

The expected lifespan of a battery is about 2 years, and we recommend replacing batteries once they reach this age. A repair is also warranted if your phone has been exposed to water, experiences power interruptions, or shows a battery health below 85 percent. Stop by your nearest Genius Phone Repair store to replace iphone battery for an affordable, expedited repair.

Thank you for reading, and feel free to call your nearest Genius Phone Repair store with any questions about your device’s battery.

13,193 Responses