With their resistance to wear and tear it’s rarely physical damage that limits the longevity of rugged computers. Instead, it is the lifespan of the internal components that set the limit and with quality devices, they will last for many years. The fastest degrading component will almost always be the battery and in particular the battery lifetime.
This is true for any wireless device, battery lifetime is limited and the tips in this article will apply just as well to your personal smartphone as specialized professional devices. If you want your devices to last as long as possible you have to treat them the right way.
The way battery lifetime works has changed
With older batteries, it used to be helpful to let the battery drain completely and then charge it back up to 100%. This was due to so-called battery memory, shorter charges meant that the battery would “remember” it and be effective for a shorter time. While this is no longer true for newer batteries it’s still a widely used practice.
Instead, the zero-to-hundred charge is actually something that is going to reduce battery lifetime on newer devices. Dropping below 20% will put extra strain on a battery. As an example take a robotic lawn mower during winter storage. When you buy it you will be told to charge it regularly even during storage. This is because it’s bad for the battery to be completely drained.
The sweet spot will be to keep the battery between 20 and 90 percent. If you need to get the most out of your battery it’s not a disaster to top it all the way up. However if at all possible you definitely want to avoid overnight charging. While convenient it’s a battery killer.
But isn’t there a limited amount of charges on every battery?
Yes, the amount of charges for any battery is limited. The average smartphone will drop to about 80% battery time after 400 charging cycles. You will obviously see better numbers with rugged handhelds but they have their limits too.
Notice how it says charging cycles above and not charges, there is an important difference. A charging cycle is when a device is charged from zero to one hundred percent. Charging a battery by 50% is half a charging cycle, 33% a third of one and so on.
This means that charging by 50% twice does not consume more cycles than charging by 100%. It’s actually better for the battery since you do not have to put it through the extra strain of recovering from a complete discharge.
Other tips for increasing battery lifetime
Extreme temperatures are generally bad for batteries however, rugged computers will often be equipped to deal well with this. So while leaving a smartphone in a hot car is a bad thing, it won’t affect a rugged computer in the same way. One thing you might want to avoid with any device is using it while it is charging. As you might have noticed it tends to make them heat up quickly.
Try to avoid unnecessary apps, they not only take up space and slow the device down it also drains the battery quicker. Many apps will run in the background and put a continuous drain on the device in several ways. Even if you remove the apps there will be some traces left behind, slowing everything down.
Another small thing you can do is turn off things like wifi, Bluetooth or NFC in situations where they won’t be used for a long time. It saves a bit of battery time but it’s not a big difference. So if you will be using them again the next day it’s hardly worth it.
Location services are another battery drain. Setting apps to only access your location while they’re in use is another small fix. It can increase your battery lifetime and reduce the amount of charging cycles.