Little praise is given to smartphone manufacturers for improving one of the most common daily gripes of smartphone usage, and that is battery life.
When mobile phones were introduced in the 90s, battery life was barely a buying factor, given that most devices were low power consuming without colour display and cameras, capable of offering weeks of battery life.
However, after the launch of smartphones in the BlackBerry and early-iPhone era, device battery life became surprisingly accepted among smartphone users, while general usage time before a recharge was diminished to a day or just more among most devices.
Apps, games, smartphone features and innovations in mobile technology also seemingly trumped battery life among users in favour of the latest functionality or better performance until it became more accepted for a smartphone to offer just a few hours of use a day.
Throughout the journey in the innovation of smartphone batteries, the world witnessed the repercussions of fighting to be first to market when a design flaw led to the global recall of one of Samsung's most popular series - the Note7- reportedly exploded around the world, while charging, leading to a worldwide recall of the device.
Despite this, learning from its own mistakes, Samsung, along with other brands, took heed of the error, with safer smartphones becoming users’ preference over fast-charging batteries and longer battery life.
Today, type-C USB ports are becoming the industry standard among smartphones and their accessories.
While most Android smartphones adopted the charging mechanism in its early introduction, Apple, which has yet to switch to USB-C, has until December 2024 to change from Lightning to the new USB-C standard.
The ruling came into place after the EU passed legislation requiring the iPhone and many other devices with wired charging to be equipped with a USB-C port to be sold in the region.
Because of its rapid adoption by smartphone manufacturers, very little is known about USB type-C. While it is the most versatile, fast, and high-performance connection type, its pros should be understood among users, with experts advising to charge a new smartphone with an authorised charger.
Type-C ports have become one of the innovations in smartphones, allowing more stable data connection and, most importantly, faster-charging capability.
Among the smartphone industry heavyweights, charging time has varied, with acceptable supercharge filling a smartphone battery from 0 to 100% cent in about half an hour. However, this time has recently been reduced to less than 10 minutes, indicating that a few minutes of charge time could keep users on the go for hours.
With notable manufacturers like Huawei, Samsung and Apple, making notable strides in more efficient charging, pioneering in the space are Oppo and Realme offering some of the most rapid charging in devices - thanks to its Super VOOC charging functionality.
In 2022, Oppo unveiled its 240W Super VOOC charging technology which can fully charge a 4,500mAh battery in just nine minutes and reach a 50% charge in just three and a half minutes, with the technology expected to make its way to a more affordable device segment in the future.
Despite this, there are cautions around using cables and wall plugs that are foreign to a new smartphone.
In fact, Oppo’s South African Operations head, Liam Faurie, told IOL that smartphone users should never consider using third-party cables when charging.
“Smartphone users should never use a third-party charger when recharging,” Faurie said.
“Not only are devices charged using different voltage and power inputs, but no manufacturer can guarantee device longevity, which promises to last four years if users manipulate a device's charging capability by using a charge that isn’t supplied with their smartphone at purchase.”
Meanwhile, other manufacturers are also taking responsibility for educating users on the risks of using third-party chargers. Amid the company’s migration to Type-C charging, Apple states that users of its products should ensure that third-party accessories are Apple certified.
“Apple recommends using only accessories that Apple has certified and that come with the MFi badge… Apple assumes no responsibility with regard to the selection, performance or use of third-party websites or products,” the company said on its website.
Using the wrong voltage charger when charging a phone can be very dangerous, as overheating the battery can lead to a fire.
The best option is to always stick with the charger boxed alongside a new phone to ensure that the charger is compatible and won’t become a hazard.
It is vitally important to check the charging cable’s compatibility against that of the wall plug for it and the smartphone itself to avoid damaging a device or causing more serious mishaps.