We have been sacrificing longevity for fast charges in our batteries for years. That is about to change

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The 1990s in consumer technology were marked by the rise—and subsequent normalization—of the smartphone, essential to our lives overnight. To boost their sales and distinguish themselves from competitors, manufacturers were using different elements. From the megapixel race to the screen inches through the milliamps / hour of the batteries. In recent years, the battle is being fought in those same batteries. But not inside, but at the door. In the speed of your fast charge.

Oppo has been lifting dumbbells in this field for some time, but has taken advantage of the MWC 2022 to build muscle with an extremely fast load, 240 watts as an evolution of its SuperVOOC technology. A few hours earlier, Realme made a similar announcement reaching 150 watts. And the year has just begun.

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Oppo has completed this launch with a reassuring announcement, that of BHE (Battery Health Engine, battery health engine), the system that uses artificial intelligence to monitor the phone’s power and usage and charging patterns in order to extend its lifespan. Even doubling it, according to the company.

The simultaneity of these announcements is not trivial. After the fast charge to strenuous levels (the market has moved towards charging the maximum possible in a few minutes) it hides a danger to longevity of those batteries. And in a market that has also moved towards non-interchangeable soldered components, that’s a problem for the entire device.

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fast charging increases heat and component stress, both enemies of electronics (although there are those who are avoiding at least the increase in temperature). In a dramatic way? Not much less. But It is inevitable, at least today. Lithium-ion batteries have been essentially the same for many yearsthe improvements that have brought greater autonomy (or the same autonomy doing many more things and feeding hardware of greater demand) have passed through the efficiency of the processors and the improvements of the software management of the load cycles, such as the optimized loadwhich starts from the premise that batteries are subjected to greater stress at the extremes of their capacity, so the ideal is to keep them whenever possible between 20% and 80%.

That software management is what makes this damage much less now than it was a few years ago. And it’s what he does reliable current fast charging systems, although it is recommended not to abuse them. In other words: not getting used to ultra-fast charging our phone on a daily basis, but having that charger as an option for the classic cases of getting home with 10% and having just enough time for a shower before going out again. . Or being on a trip and barely having to wait twenty minutes at an airport before having to leave again. On those occasions ultra-fast charging is sacramental.

…and longevity

Domestic attitudes to consumer technology have much to swing. Fifteen years ago, certain fears (“should I leave the charger on for twelve hours in the mobile I just released? Should I unplug the charger immediately as soon as the battery reaches 100%?”) were common, which gave way to a certain unconcern and improvisation that was consolidated with the rise of wireless charging. Now certain fears returnespecially when charging 100% of the battery in fifteen minutes generates misgivings.

Oppo has integrated a control chip that regulates voltage, current and temperature, in addition to protecting the terminal from high temperatures with thirteen sensors distributed throughout its chassis. A similar principle is followed by Xiaomi batteries, which promised that Even charging them at 120 watts, they would withstand up to 800 charge cycles, maintaining 80% of their original capacity. (Current figures from Oppo promise exactly twice as many cycles, although they are not yet commercialized in any specific device).

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It is not bad that after the voltage war for ultra-fast charging comes the war for long-term safety and for the preservation of the battery after many cycles. and gives us Reasons to be able to use this technology somewhat calmer. Although it will always be a better idea to limit it to the scenarios where it is really useful.

There is also the fact of how long smartphones last us. Regardless of economic or environmental considerations, who have another conversation, most handsets are replaced two to three years after purchase, something that increases the sense of using this ultra-fast charge without much fear. A different question is for those who estimate the useful life of their phone at five or six years. In that case, not even the best intentions of Xiaomi, Oppo, OnePlus or whoever will be able to prevent the degradation of your batteries. Although we can delay the suffering by directly avoiding fast charging. But you also have to live.

The 1990s in consumer technology were marked by the rise—and subsequent normalization—of the smartphone, essential to our lives overnight. To…

The 1990s in consumer technology were marked by the rise—and subsequent normalization—of the smartphone, essential to our lives overnight. To…

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