Playing While Charging Phone: Damages Battery?

Here’s whether playing while charging damages your phone’s battery:

Using your phone while charging should not damage the battery or any other part of the phone, even if that use involves high-end gaming. 

The charging system is very smart and will route power appropriately to make the phone work and protect the battery. 

That said, there is an increased risk of heat, and that matters.

So if you want to learn all about how playing on your phone while charging affects your phone battery, then you’re in the right place.

Keep reading!

Playing While Charging Phone: Damages Battery? (Do This)

Why Doesn’t Playing While Charging Directly Damage the Battery? (3 Reasons)

By and large, it is perfectly safe for your phone and its battery to game while you charge the phone. 

Actually, that’s underselling it. 

In most circumstances, playing while the phone is plugged in is better for the battery than otherwise.

Now, it’s perfectly safe to play games while the phone is not plugged in, but if you really want to maximize your battery’s lifespan, it will help to know how leaving it plugged in can be a good thing.

#1 Smart Charging

This is really the crux of the whole thing. We’ll go over other aspects of battery health in a bit. 

When we do, you’ll come back to this idea and see why it’s the key to preserving battery health and longevity.

Your phone has some smart design elements. That’s not a compliment to the engineers (although they probably are pretty smart). 

It’s a reference to the fact that your phone’s charging and battery systems are capable of making decisions according to their programming.

That’s a complicated way of saying that when you plug the phone into a charger, the phone will run off of the electricity that comes from the charger and not off of the battery. 

Older systems that weren’t smart were not capable of this. 

In those cases, the phone would draw from the battery while the battery drew from the charger. 

This method meant that the battery was in constant use even while the phone was charging.

With smart systems, the battery gets to rest while the charger supplies everything the phone needs.

Now, there is a consequence tied to smart charging. 

The phone will prioritize powering current operations. 

So, most of the juice flowing from the charger will skip the battery and go straight to your game (and other phone operations). 

Because of this, the battery will charge noticeably slower while you play games. The battery is only getting leftover electricity to use for charging.

But, this leftover charging setup is perfectly safe for the battery. 

In fact, when you see how that works with battery strain and recharge cycles, this setup actually extends your battery’s lifespan.

#2 Battery Cycles

This is one of the most misunderstood aspects of battery life. 

A lithium battery is built for a certain number of recharge cycles. 

As the battery approaches that number, it gets older, and it can’t hold as much charge. 

But, your standard cell phone battery is rated to maintain at least 80% of its capacity up to that number (which is usually between 300 and 500).

So, how does a recharge cycle work? 

Whenever you use the phone (and it isn’t plugged in), you drain the battery. 

If you drain the battery 100%, then you need to recharge it. Assuming you recharge it back to full, that’s one recharge cycle.

But let’s say you only drain the battery to 80% before you plug it back in. 

When you recharge the phone, that’s only a fifth of a cycle. 

You would have to repeat that exact same usage and recharge five times to equal a full recharge cycle.

So, when you play a game on the phone, it contributes to draining the battery. 

Every time you recharge the battery, you age it. 

But, when you play while the phone is plugged in (as you’ve already learned), the battery doesn’t drain. 

So, you’re preventing recharge cycles by doing this.

Ultimately, you’re extending the life of the battery by plugging the phone in for the most power-hungry applications.

#3 Battery Strain

On top of reducing recharge cycles, playing with the phone plugged in lowers battery strain. 

Any use that rapidly drains the battery actually puts extra strain on it. 

Doing this frequently can shorten the battery’s lifespan by more than just a little.

You can see how plugging in the phone is valuable here. 

If you keep it plugged in, the battery isn’t taking any extra strain, regardless of what games you play. 

It’s another way that this technique is good for your battery’s lifespan.

How Does Constant Charging Affect Your Phone Battery?

So much about gaming on your phone while charging.

Before I continue: What about constant charging, though?

For the most part, constantly charging a phone does not damage the battery. 

Most manufacturers suggest that you can charge the phone however you like, and it will be just fine. 

In fact, constant charging can extend your battery’s life in many cases. 

The only real concern is avoiding charging in high temperatures.

Learn all about how constantly charging your phone affect its battery here.

Are There Any Risks to Charge Your Phone While Playing?

We’ve taken a journey through the aspects of how charging while playing is good for your phone, but the debate isn’t quite over yet. 

There’s more going on than just passthrough charge, and cycle counts. 

We also have to consider the idea of heat.

Heat can be bad for batteries, and gaming on a phone does produce heat. 

So, it’s important to understand the safe thresholds. 

When you do, you’ll be able to determine if the heat or the smart charging is more important to how you use the phone (which we will compare directly towards the end of this discussion).

Heat

This is the major concern. 

Phones generate a lot of heat, and when that heat is left unchecked, it can cause problems. 

When you play a game, you push the hardware a little harder than normal (some games push it a lot harder than normal), and the phone produces more heat than is typical.

At the same time, when a battery is charged, it generates heat as a product of that reaction. 

So, you’re generating extra heat from two sources when you game while the phone is charging.

How hot is too hot? 

According to Apple, you want to avoid charging your phone when the ambient temperature is above 95℉ (35℃). 

Batteries for Android devices behave similarly, so you can take it as a general rule. 

As for tracking the ambient temperature, here’s an easy check for that. 

Your body temperature is usually around 98℉ (36.7℃). 

So, if you touch the battery portion of the phone and it feels warm, you’re above 95℉ (35℃).

It’s not time to freak out quite yet. 

The recommendation is for ambient temperatures, not the battery itself. 

The battery is designed to generate heat when it charges, and in that respect, it can get quite a bit above 95℉ (35℃) without causing any trouble. 

What you really want to see is if the air around the phone feels warmer than your hand.

If that’s the case, then you want to take measures to help keep things cool. 

First, switch off of a third-party charger (if you use one). They tend to work less efficiently than original manufacturer chargers.

Also, think about how the phone can better get cool. 

Avoid setting it on a blanket, pillow, or other insulating surface. 

Instead, hold up or set it on a flat, cool surface. 

Turn on a fan if you need to, or open a window to create a cross breeze. 

Moving air is your best resource in preventing the ambient temperature from getting too high.

Remember, you don’t need to directly cool the battery. 

The phone is already designed to do that. 

You’re just trying to keep the air around the battery from getting too hot.

Don’t put your phone in the freezer, though.

So, Which Matters More For Your Phone? Heat or Battery Strain?

Let’s try to settle this completely. There are two opposing issues. 

On the one hand, charging the phone while you play games reduces battery strain and cycle counts. 

In these ways, the action extends the battery’s lifespan.

On the other hand, the risk of heat is increased, and high heat can completely destroy a battery. 

How can one assess this trade-off?

Generally speaking, heat won’t matter. The device is designed to manage heat. 

If it ever gets too hot, the device shuts itself down. 

So, in the vast majority of cases, it’s better to play while the phone is plugged in (although playing on battery power is still fine).

If the phone ever gets hot enough that it feels uncomfortable to your hands, then the temperature is getting close to a level where the battery might take damage. 

At that point, go ahead and stop playing any games. It’s best to stop using the phone altogether for a bit. 

In fact, if the battery is above 20%, go ahead and pull it off of the charger. You can even consider putting it in airplane mode.

These actions will reduce the amount of heat generated by the phone (and the battery). This helps get the temperature under control in order to reduce any risk of damage.

To cool the phone off efficiently, put it on a flat surface (a hard, cool surface like a countertop is best). 

Feel free to use a fan to blow air over the phone if you can. 

The point is that you need to let the phone cool down to a point where it is comfortable to touch. 

Once you do that, it’s safe to charge the phone. You can also resume regular use of the phone.

If temperatures get high again quickly, then it’s best to stop gaming while the phone is plugged in. 

You have crossed the threshold where the risk of heat is more important than the reduced battery strain you get from leaving the phone plugged in.

Also, if your phone is regularly getting this hot, you should contact tech support for your make and model. 

The phone should not generally run that hot, so troubleshooting is in order.

Does Frequent Charging Damages Your Phone Battery?

Okay. By now you already know playing on your phone while charging is perfectly fine.

What about frequent charging, though?

For the most part, frequent charging is not an issue for modern phones with lithium-based batteries. 

Charging behavior does impact your battery’s lifespan, but the exact ways depend on how you use the phone and what kind of battery you have. 

You can research best practices for your specific battery.

Learn all about how frequent charging affects your phone battery here.