One of the biggest pain points for mobile phone users these days is battery life. While 8-10 hours of power seems at first blush to be a remarkable improvement over just a few years ago, a few long conversations and a couple hours of video news will drop that battery LED or on-screen meter down to zero in no time.

But what if you’ve just charged your Samsung or other smartphone and still aren’t getting any juice? That could indicate you need either a replacement battery or replacement phone. While the vast majority of smartphones today use rechargeable lithium ion, or Li-ion batteries, they’re not created equally. Like all rechargeables, cell phone batteries eventually lose their charge faster over time or don’t take a charge at all. There are several ways to determine if the cell phone needs a new battery.

 

1. The Phone is Dead

This may be an obvious one. Either you accidentally damaged your phone by dropping it or dunking it in water for too long, or the battery is dead. If you’ve eliminated the first as a culprit, check to see if it shows no sign of power – nothing lights up, no sound, nada. If the phone shows no signs of life after charging with a reliable charger, it’s time to call it: your battery is dead. There is a good chance that the battery may need to be replaced. Some manufacturers like Samsung sell models that let the user replace a battery with a Samsung Original Standard Battery. The Samsung Galaxy S4 and Note 3, for instance, have this option, while the newer Samsung Galaxy S6, S7 and Note 4 does not. Apple, another top manufacturer, keeps batteries behind a sealed case. You have to take the phone into an authorized store for repair or replacement.

2. The Phone Only Shows Power When Plugged In
If the battery is bad, it does not hold a charge to power the phone from its stored energy. However, if the phone functions properly, the phone may still power up when a power source is connected. If the phone does not power up after it has had time to charge thoroughly, it is more than likely time to get a new battery, or you can purchase an external power bank charger to deliver more power capacity to your phone – good for many hours of average use.
3. The Phone Dies Quickly
The phone may charge for the recommended amount of time, show a full charge, and then die long before those 10 hours manufacturers advertised. Don’t forget about usage. Those advertised times typically are for average usage; manufacturers like Apple and Samsung may say in the fine print what they battery life is if you’re playing video all day long – or they may not. If you’re a digital gamer, listen to Spotify or iTunes all day, surf the Web frequently or are simply in an area where service is so poor that your phone is constantly “turning on” to find a signal from a cellular tower, expect your battery to drain faster than advertised. Either plug the phone in where possible and use it while charging or consider purchasing a power bank. If none of these situations apply and your phone still dies quickly after a full charge, the battery probably is bad and needs to be replaced.
4. The Phone or Battery Starts to Feel Hot

Rechargeable batteries inevitably generate heat as they charge. However, most rechargeable batteries internalize the heat, thereby shielding it from becoming noticeably hot. If it starts to become hot to the touch, it may be time to consider a new battery. Then, too, consider the ambient temperature near your phone. A hot sun might be the culprit.

5. The Battery Bulges

Sometimes, when a battery goes bad, the internal cells rupture, and cause a bulge to appear in the battery. You see this when you hold the battery up or see a bulge on the casing. Additionally, a bulge makes it able to spin like a top when placing the battery on a flat surface.

Is It Worthwhile to Replace a Cell Phone Battery

Without a battery or other form of power, a cell phone is worthless. Is it worthwhile to replace a cell phone battery? Maybe. If you have an old phone that’s not in the best condition, a dead battery may be a symptom of thing to come if you hang onto the device. It may not be worth getting a new battery, only to have the phone give out a few days or weeks later. However, if the phone is in good condition and fits your needs, it may be beneficial to purchase a new battery to get it up and running again.

Conclusion

While cell phone batteries have come a long way in terms of both longevity and average life, their performance can be variable. The easiest way to see if your battery needs to be replaced is if you can check its condition or swap it out for a spare. If you have an iPhone, you’ll likely have to take it into an Apple store or authorized repair shop for a replacement, but if you’ve got a phone that lets you replace the battery yourself, eBay is a good place to score deals. One last tip: batteries are classified as hazardous waste. You shouldn’t simply toss them in the trash. Look for recycling centers or online sites when you can send old batteries for disposal.

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