Twinkies have a near-infinite shelf-life. Mozart wrote “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” when he was five. Vikings wore horns on their helmets. You need to fully charge your battery before you use your new phone.
What do those statements have in common? They’re all myths.
But they are myths that have their roots in truth. The first appearance of Viking helmets with horns was probably in an 1876 production of Wagner’s “Der Ring des Nibelungen” (fun fact for parties). Mozart modified French folk songs to write “Twinkle, Twinkle” when he was in his 20s. The shelf life of a Twinkie is about 45 days. That’s unusual for baked goods – but achievable because Twinkies contain no dairy.
But what about charging phone batteries right out of the box?
2 reasons the battery charging myth is outdated
The idea that we should charge fully before first use comes from older battery technologies, like NiCd. Before the first use, you had to “form” NiCd batteries by fully discharging and fully charging. Then they had to be regularly charged to full before using – consistently charging the battery to only 75 percent, for example, would cause the battery to lose capacity. Today’s lithium batteries are just fine whether you give them that initial charge or not.
The other reason is that phones have at least some charge when you buy them – usually around 30 percent. The vast majority of batteries have been fully charged as part of the manufacturer’s quality assurance system, and then discharged for shipping purposes. Air traffic rules limit the amount of juice a battery can have to 30 percent, but if a manufacturer is only ground shipping, it might have more.
Why manufacturers pay more attention to their batteries
Even after the smartphone industry transitioned from NiCad to lithium, batteries were shipped uncharged and untested. Every once in a while, a customer would end up with a defective battery.
As you can imagine, that’s not good for business. Sell a bad battery, and a device maker might find themselves footing the bill for a new phone, along with the shipping and resources needed to make things right with the customer.
So manufacturers started giving batteries a full charge in the factory. Typically, a battery is tested by its manufacturer and the phone’s manufacturer. That means your new phone battery has likely been charged a couple times before it was shipped.
If you just bought a new phone or a new battery, it doesn’t hurt to charge it before you use it, but you can also grab it out of the box and go. But you might want to take some portable power too!