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How much does it cost to charge your phone or tablet?

Lynn Wright / 04 March 2016 ( 26 March 2018 )

The true cost of charging your mobile device revealed – plus our top tips for charging your iPhone, iPad and Android smartphone.

Battery charging icon
Keeping your mobile phone plugged in ‘trickle charges’ it but this continuous recharging can degrade the battery slightly faster

Mobile devices such as iPhones, iPads and Android smartphones are far more powerful than mobile phones of old. Crammed with computer processors, ablaze with brilliant screens and sporting decent speakers means a limited battery life that leaves you constantly hooking your device up to the mains for a recharge.

Worse still is ‘battery anxiety’ – that compulsive need to hunt down a power outlet and plug in your tablet or smartphone so that it remains topped up with power during the day. The result is an army of devices constantly sipping energy and potentially costing a fortune in recharging costs.

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How much does charging devices really cost?

Yet it appears that the cost of charging your mobile phone or tablet is actually incredibly low.

Rapid developments in mobile phone batteries and mobile phone chargers mean that devices, such as iPhones, only cost a few pounds to charge up each year – even if you charge them up overnight 365 days a year.

A 2012 US study found that the average mobile phone draws around 3.68 watts when charging, and around 2.24 watts when plugged in and fully charged. 

Energy company NPower claims this equates to a cost of around £3.50 per year to keep a mobile phone charged. 

However, with 89.9 million active mobile phone subscriptions in the UK according to the Mobile Operators Association, and two thirds of adults using a smartphone, that equates to £314 million to keep the UK’s mobile phones charged up.

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Battery charging tips

So while it costs little to keep your mobile phone charged up, overcharging can cause problems with the phone’s battery, which could mean shelling out for a replacement phone sooner. 

Here are our mobile phone charging tips to keep your mobile phone battery in great condition.

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1. Charge your mobile device for just a few hours rather than overnight

Keeping your mobile phone plugged in ‘trickle charges’ it – a safety feature to stop the battery from overheating – but this continuous recharging can degrade the battery slightly faster.

2. Always use the correct branded mobile charger

Mobile phone chargers are designed to work in tandem with your mobile phone, cutting off the power when your mobile phone reaches 100% full. 

Unofficial chargers can keep in sucking power, potentially damaging your device’s battery.

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3. Don’t let your battery fall too low

Modern Li-ion mobile phone batteries work better when charged little and often, and when they’re at a medium charge. This means avoiding the battery charge dropping below 20%, and avoid recharging up fully to 100%. 

Keeping your device charged between 50% to 80% charge is optimum for its battery life.

4. Don’t leave a mobile phone unpowered for a long period of time

Mobile phone batteries drain at around 10% per month when not used. Once a battery is drained for a long period of time, there’s a chance it may no longer be able to be recharged, which means you’ll need to buy a new battery.

5. Watch out for overheating

Phone batteries don't like to get too hot, so you might like to consider removing the phone case if charging overnight to help it keep cool, or putting it face down so the heat can dissipate out the back of the device.

For more tips and useful information, browse our technology articles.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.