The sight of someone glued to their cell phone while it’s plugged in has become common. You might do it yourself – checking an urgent message, watching a quick video, or taking a call. But is it the safest practice? While not immediately explosive, there are valid reasons to reconsider using your phone while it’s charging. Read on to learn why.
The Case Against Using Your Phone While Charging
Several potential concerns make using your phone while charging less than ideal, from long-term battery damage to safety hazards. Let’s dive into the details:
1. Slower Charging
Modern lithium-ion batteries in cell phones use complex systems to regulate the charging process. When you use your phone while it charges, its battery is simultaneously receiving and expending power. This constant cycling and switching from ‘in’ to ‘out’ mode creates strain that makes charging take significantly longer. While not directly harmful, who wants to be tethered to the wall for longer than they need to?
2. Battery Overheating
Have you noticed your phone warming up during intensive use, like gaming or watching videos? Well, charging the battery generates some heat, too. Combining these two factors stresses your battery, which, like most of us, doesn’t thrive under pressure.
Constantly elevated temperatures can cause damage to the internal components of the battery. When this happens, your battery may hold less charge over time, drain faster, or, in rare but very unfortunate cases, even swell. A puffy battery is bad news.
3. Potential Electrical Faults
While reputable chargers and cables undergo rigorous safety testing, using a phone actively when it’s plugged in does present some theoretical hazards. Cheap or damaged charging accessories can have subpar insulation, making contact with a metal part of your phone a shocking possibility (quite literally). This risk dramatically increases when near or in water.
4. Damage to Phone Components
While not common, excessive and ongoing heat strain, as we already touched on, can gradually put stress on your phone’s delicate electronics. The motherboard, screen, and other essential components aren’t designed for continuous baking sessions.
5. Reduced Lifespan
Everything discussed so far – slow charging, heat, and potential faults – can accelerate the aging of your phone. If you want to avoid paying for new batteries and devices more often than necessary, it’s wise to reconsider how you treat your phone during charging.
Myths Around Using Phones While Charging
Like all things involving electricity, misinformation, and urban legends are common. While the reasons above should persuade you to exercise caution, here are a few things that WON’T happen if you choose to simultaneously charge and use your phone:
- Electrocution: With properly manufactured chargers, electrocution risk is incredibly low. However, exercise caution with damaged chargers or in wet environments.
- Explosion: Modern batteries contain safety features that minimize the risk of bursting into flames. While a phone could combust from severe impact or damage, plugging it in for power isn’t enough to set it off.
Best Practices for Phone Charging
Now, let’s get into healthy habits to adopt for long-lasting, safe phone use:
- Prioritize Uninterrupted Charging: Put your phone down for dedicated charging sessions. Let it fill up quickly and efficiently.
- Use High-Quality Cables and Chargers: Always stick to chargers and cables that came with your phone or those from reputable manufacturers. Look for certification marks that vouch for their safety (like UL, CE, or others).
- Take Charge in Cool Environments: Heat is your battery’s nemesis. When possible, charge your phone in cooler areas and avoid leaving it in direct sunlight for prolonged periods.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. Can I use my phone while it’s charging if it’s an emergency?
Absolutely. Short emergency calls or messages when your phone is low are fine. Avoid extended use under those circumstances.
2. Is it okay to leave my phone charging overnight?
Most modern phones will stop drawing power once full. Nevertheless, leaving it plugged in all night will shorten battery life a bit in the long run. If possible, aim to unplug when full.
3. Will playing games while charging definitely damage my phone?
Not immediately, but it’s not a kindness to your device. If you find it irresistible to the game, unplug it for healthier battery life and less stress on your phone.