Late last month, Xiaomi once again took the lead in the smartphone market when it comes to insanely fast charging speeds. Its new HyperCharge technology was able to charge a 4,000 mAh phone to full in just 8 minutes by pushing out 200W of power. Of course, the company will tout the safety mechanisms that will prevent the phone from blowing up but it was almost silent on one other side effect of that technology. Fortunately, Xiaomi does come clean and admit that, at least for now, it will cut your phone’s battery life by 20% in just two years.
Despite being essential components of our smartphones, batteries have always been the most unreliable component due to their volatile compositions. In addition to the technically dangerous chemicals that make it possible for them to actually work, batteries can degrade considerably over time, depending on how you use or charge them. The latter is especially important in this case because batteries can degrade faster when they receive higher wattage.
Xiaomi explained on Weibo that its 200W HyperCharge tech could result in the battery ending up with only above 80% of its original capacity after 800 charging cycles. That many full charging and discharging cycles can add up to around two years. That 4,000 mAh battery, then, would only have about 3,200 mAh capacity after more or less normal two years of use.
The company does explain that it is still within Chinese regulators’ standards which dictate that batteries shouldn’t go below 60% capacity after 400 cycles. In that context, Xiaomi’s figures do look impressive but no one expects their phones’ batteries to be reduced by half in just a year. Given how people these days are holding on to their phones for far longer, that is a rather big sacrifice to make.
Xiaomi isn’t the only one making such sacrifices, of course, and that is the expected side effect of all these fast-charging technologies. The 200W HyperCharge does, however, take the biggest chunk of battery life and, unfortunately, these are the compromises we continue to make with the state of battery technology we currently have today.