“Know yourself” – good advice for a battery

By | September 12, 2016
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It used to be that batteries in things like digital camera, camcorders and laptops could develop what was called “battery memory”, where it would “remember” where you’d charged it up to if you charged it part way, then next time would only charge that far.

That’s not really a problem any more but that doesn’t mean you never get problems with batteries.

In fact I had one of the most common battery problems the other day – on my phone, though the same thing can happen on tablets, too.

When your battery doesn’t know it’s own self…

Know yourself, they say.  Well, that’s advice my phone battery could have done with the other day…

What happened was that when I plugged my phone in to charge, it never got higher than sixty odd percent (I think it might have been 67% – but I can’t remember for sure). At least according to the indicator on screen. No matter how long I left it plugged in, it wouldn’t get higher.

Then when I used it, it wouldn’t seem to drop much – until it turned itself off as out of battery having only gone down to about 63%.

Sometimes when I plugged it in, it would show 100% but the second I unplugged it, it was down to 67% again.

I had the feeling that actually it was fully charging, it just didn’t know it, because it lasted a long time before running out of battery. But it was frustrating because I could never tell how full it was and whether I needed to charge it or not.

But turning the phone off and on again, trying to charge it and so on didn’t help.

Apparently it’s not uncommon – so in case it happens to you, here’s what to do.

First of all, I was right – it is fully charging. It’s not (usually) a problem with the battery, it’s a problem with the bit of the phone that tells how charged the battery is. Basically it’s got itself confused.

The thing to do is to let the phone run right down, so it turns itself off (otherwise you can’t tell whether it’s full, empty or half way!).

That way the bit that checks how full the battery is can learn what “empty” is.

Leave it turned off and plug it in to charge. Leave it to charge long enough that you’re certain it’s fully charged – overnight is a good plan. DOn’t turn it on again until you’re sure it’s fully charged.

After that, tap the button on the front of the phone. On most phones that lets you see how charged it is without actually turning it on. Make sure it says “100%” and now unplug the phone and turn it on.

Check what percentage it now says on the screen. With any luck it’ll be 100% and your job is done. That’s what happened for me and it’s since been absolutely fine.

If not (and it’s not say 99%, which is probably near enough) but it’s higher than it got before, then you’re making progress and you might just need to repeat the whole thing again – let it run right down and start again.

If it’s now saying 100% but it runs out of battery before it gets to near 0%, then you’ve sorted it recognising what full is but not what empty is. You can try the same process again and if that doesn’t help, you can try letting it run down and turn off, then try to turn it on. It’ll probably turn on for a second, just long enough to realise it’s out of battery and turn itself off again. Then go through the charging until it’s definitely full.

That’ll fix nearly all of this kind of problem with the battery. If it doesn’t fix it, you might actually have a physical problem with the battery, so it’s causing a problem you might want to take it to a shop to get them to look at it.

Watching TV online… on your TV
I know lots of people watch TV online – especially using BBCs iPlayer. It can be really handy to watch programmes after they’ve been on.

And sometimes it’s nice to be able to watch it in a different room, maybe on your laptop or tablet.

But most people also have a TV in the lounge with a bigger screen, which is better for watching TV. If you have a smartTV you can probably watch iPlayer and the ITV and Channel 4 equivalents directly on the TV (once you’ve got it set up!).

But even if you haven’t there are a few ways to do it.

For a start many laptops can be plugged into a modern TV, using an HDMI cable. You’ll often have one connecting a DVD player or similar to your TV so you might be able to unplug it from that to plug into your laptop, then watch your laptop screen on your TV.

Then just set the programme going on iPlayer (or whatever) and watch it on your TV.

If you haven’t got a socket like that another way to do it is to use a Chromecast – it’s a device you can buy and plug into the back of your TV that lets you send video from your laptop, tablet or phone to your TV. I’m not going to go into lots of detail about how you use it today as this’ll end up as an enormous email, but if you do fancy being able to watch iPlayer or whatever on your TV, it might be worth a look.

9 thoughts on ““Know yourself” – good advice for a battery

  1. Geoff Lambert

    Good advice about the battery, Tim, thanks. As well as Chromecast (which requires some channel or programme compatibility I recall) there are probably a few million iPad users who can also transmit directly to their TV through an Apple TV box using the AirPlay feature. We use that regularly for TV and other internet sites.

    Reply
  2. Rosen Chamberlain

    Would not recommend leaving battery on charge overnight a lot of fires have started this way because of faulty chargers.

    Reply
  3. Sue Ewing

    Hi Tim, Thanks for your email and advice. We use an HDMI cable to connect my laptop to watch a programme on iplayer. Although it worked fine at one time we only get the sound now on the laptop and it is no longer transferred to the TV set with the picture. Not sure if this is since I changed to windows 10. I wondered if there was a simple remedy. Thanks for all your useful tips. Sue Ewing.

    Reply
    1. Tim Post author

      Hello
      It might be that a setting has changed when you updated to Windows 10. With the cable plugged in, try right clicking on the speaker icon in the system tray at the bottom right hand corner of the screen. Choose “playback devices” and see if there are several options – there might be one labelled HDMI that isn’t selected, which might solve the problem.
      It’s also possible that part of the cable has broken but in my experience they tend to be pretty robust.
      Tim

      Reply
  4. Jennifer Edie

    Yes – I’d love to know a bit more about how to use Chromecast – I have it but still have difficulties sometimes with getting it started.

    Reply
    1. Tim Post author

      I think it could be a popular topic, so I’ve added doing a bit more about it (and Airplay as Geoff mentioned below) into my list of “topics to write about at some point”. There’s a lot in that list, so I’m not saying it’ll be straight away, but it’s in the list now!
      Tim

      Reply
  5. Wiliam Wilkinson

    It may be that when your battery starts to “play up” that it’s affected by “built in obsolescence ” which seems to occur approximately 3 years after you’ve bought the mobile phone, or tablet. If you take it to the dealer they will tell you that it is cheaper to replace the phone or whatever rather than replace the battery. No doubt they can recommend some deal to replace it. Good for their sales figures but not good on your pocket.
    Whatever happens to all the old phones or tablets that are replaced I wonder? Perhaps they end up being sold through some second hand shop – complete with new battery!

    Reply
  6. Marilyn Shipp

    Thanks for the excellent advice about problems with the battery.
    My Sony laptop had for some time only been charging up to 80%.
    I did as you suggested, let it completely discharge, then fully charge it before turning it back on. Now I am achieving a full 100% charge.
    Thanks again for that nugget, and all the other helpful hints!

    Reply
    1. Tim Post author

      Brilliant – I’ve never actually tried it on a laptop but it’s the same principle so I’m glad to hear it helped you with a laptop as well!
      Tim

      Reply

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