Google Pixel phones with Android 11 get a new battery health feature

Battery life has become a major concern for smartphone users and manufacturers these days. While we wait for huge leaps in battery technology, most have resolved to make charging faster in the meantime. Battery charging, however, isn't a simple matter of turning something on and off like a light switch, and various conditions can actually lead to faster battery life degradation. To help prevent those scenarios, Google is implementing a new feature on supported Pixel phones that caps battery charging at 80% under certain conditions.

In the past, maintaining a battery's health involved almost half a dozen pointers and warnings, especially regarding full charging cycles or draining a battery completely before its first full charge. Things have become simpler these with smarter charging circuits, but there are still some cases where users might not be aware that they're harming their smartphone batteries. Overcharging is one such case that Google is now addressing further with a new optimization for its Pixel phones.

Overcharging protection is now a standard feature on phones, but there are cases where keeping the phone plugged in could still push a battery beyond its safe limits. There are two scenarios, in particular, that Google is trying to address. One is when a phone is kept charging under heavy discharging conditions, like when playing a game. The other is when the phone has been kept plugged in for four days or more.

When either of these conditions is true, the Pixel's new "Optimizing for battery health" feature kicks in and stops charging the phone at about 80%. The phone will resume charging or leave this state once the conditions are no longer met, like if the phone has been unplugged or the aforementioned battery-draining activities are stopped. This feature automatically turns on and off and there doesn't seem to be any way to manually toggle it.

This features is available only for the Pixel 3 or later phones running Android 11 or higher. Other manufacturers also have similar battery health features that limit charging to 80% or slow down fast charging beyond that point. It would perhaps be beneficial if the feature becomes a standard Android feature rather than a manufacturer-specific one.