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Considering that charging over USB can take around 5 hours (to only 1-2 hours it would take from the wall mounted plug), can it be harmful for the smartphone battery if it's always charged from USB?

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Charging from a computer over USB may actually be better than fast charging from a wall socket. Reason1) Batteryuniversity has shown that Lithium Ion batteries that are charged too fast will die sooner. Reason2) Charging slower will not heat the battery as much, which can prolong battery life –  Sepero Nov 18 '12 at 11:27
    
Been charging my Lumia 710 most of the time through USB, and have been noticing increased battery life over the past weeks. –  user27654 Jan 31 '13 at 21:00

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up vote 21 down vote accepted

I don't see how the duration of the charge would relate to whether or not it's harmful to the smartphone. I have never seen any documentation that keeping a phone plugged in perpetually (whether plugged into USB, AC or DC) would cause any harm to the phone itself. An argument could be made that it's harmful to the battery.

Constant charging is not generally a problem for Lithium Ion Polymer batteries (which most new cell phone batteries are). It is in fact better to frequently charge them, and not let them fully discharge.

One factor that does degrade the battery life of all Lithium Ion batteries is heat. The more heat it's exposed to the faster it will lose capacity, so I can see how keeping it plugged in may keep it warmer longer and theoretically degrade the battery life.

Here are a couple good resources discussing battery life:

  1. http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/how_to_prolong_lithium_based_batteries
  2. http://www.droidforums.net/forum/tech-issues-bug-reports-suggestions/1974-understanding-battery-life.html
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Excellent answer, thank you. I meant battery as well. –  Francisc Jan 29 '11 at 22:32
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I believe the slower charge from USB would keep the battery temp lower than a faster charge, so it may actually be beneficial. –  TomG Jan 30 '11 at 0:48

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