So what can I do with my RAZR that will probably die again?

Discussion in 'Smartphone Battery Discussion' started by travistee, Sep 3, 2012.

  1. travistee
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    travistee New Member

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    I have the RAZR with the ICS update.

    I've been trying to avoid using the car charger but thats not possible when out on a long trip and using the phone
    for web and GPS.

    Recently it had a low charge. I plugged it into the car charger for two hours. Not long enough to get it too full charge usually.

    After charging it was dead and could not be restarted using all the tricks even at the verizon store.

    I now have a new one under the warranty.

    It comes with a paper that says " a non approved charger may result in degraded battery performance, including the failure of your phone to charge or power on".

    So can I use a car charger or not?
    The phone is not much use if I can only use the GPS at home, and cant use it for anything else because I wont be able to charge the battery.

    So are we waiting for a fix to the ICS problem or should I ask Verizon for a replacement with a different phone next time it dies.
    Which phone would you recommened? I was looking at one of the HTC phones before I decided on the RAZR.
  2. FoxKat
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    FoxKat DF Super Moderator Staff Member Premium Member

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    There are several things I would suggest.

    First, hop on over to http://www.droidforums.net/forum/droid-razr-support/217843-mattyps-215-leak-classroom.html, read up on the process to upgrade from the Over the Air (OTA) version of Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), which is version .211, and instead get yourself onto the leaked version .215. Virtually all of the problems reported with ICS OTA have been resolved as reported by those who have done the upgrade. This is a signed upgrade (meaning it is an official version that was created by Motorola, not something someone hacked together on their home PC), and is either expected to be the next "fix" version or very close to it.

    Second, I know the manufacturer makes that statement regarding using non-approved chargers and truth be known, a bad charger can damage the phone or the battery, which is why it is also voiding the warranty to use a third party charger, but I am far less critical of using third party car adapters than of third party wall adapters and for good reason. Car chargers are pretty much all the same. There's a lot more than can go wrong or be poorly designed in wall adapters than in car adapters. Wall chargers first have to convert 110VAC to 110VDC, filter the waveform to smooth out the ripples and step down the voltages from the dangerous 110V down (typically first to 12V and then), to the 5.1VDC needed for the phone, this in contrast to car adapters which only have to convert the car's 12-14VDC system to 5.1VDC, it's simply a step-down transformer or other voltage reduction method and very little if any filtering (other than RF filtering).

    The current should and is almost always also limited in the car chargers to somewhere around 750mAh - 1,000mAh to prevent charging the battery too fast (*though iPad adapters can go as high as 2.1 amps or 2,100mAh), but not to worry...the phone has its own current limiter to keep the charging rate at no more than about 1 Amp (1,000mAh). Since they are rather simple in design, even third party car adapters should perform properly and not put your phone and battery at risk. I would recommend you stay with a brand name one such as Verizon, Motorola, or another popular top phone manufacturer, or a popular phone accessory manufacturer like Belkin to minimize any poor circuitry design. Stay far away from no-name cheap China import chargers that you buy at a flea market, dollar store or on the internet for a couple dollars. Even those sold at retail stores like Staples or Best Buy usually on kiosks near the register are fine. What you do need to be careful of is that the charger for the car provides AT LEAST 750mAh, or it will have great difficulty keeping up with the regular power draw of the phone while charging (see below).

    Third, What you've experienced is an out of calibration meter. A unique characteristic of the Lithium Ion batteries these phones use is that they both charge and discharge in a sort of "bell curve" rather than linearly. What this means is that as the battery either charges or discharges, the voltage read at the battery terminals doesn't increase or decrease at the same rate, so from particular percentage of indicated charge to the next, depending on where in the curve it is, the voltages could have increased or decreased only slightly or considerably. It's this non-linear power curve that makes it so hard for the phone to indicate the actual battery level. This unique curve is less of a problem for some devices than others.

    For instance, a constant load of a medium current draw (like a light bulb) will give the smoothest discharge curve and make it rather easy for a meter to tell where in the discharge cycle the battery is at any point, and as the bulb begins to dim it becomes obvious to you (and the meter) that the battery has reached the end of its discharge cycle. Power tools which use large amounts of current in shorter bursts during use, with periods of no discharge at all are more difficult to meter, but when you are nearing the end of the discharge cycle, the power tool will begin to slow down, so it's not all that critical either. Phones which use very low current draw over dozens of hours, and with periods of high, medium and low draw at various times throughout are the most difficult to meter. Even the most linear of discharge curves with a constant load for these batteries resembles one half of a bell (commonly called a bell curve), where the voltages drop quickly in the early part of the discharge cycle (the first 100% - 85%), then level out and drop very slowly for a while (85% to 20%), and then finally during the last part of the discharge curve begin to drop off rapidly again (20% to 0%). To some it resembles a sliding board flipped upside down.

    Fourth, charging while powered on creates another problem for the meter. Since the phone is using power, usually at very low levels while powered on and charging, the battery takes longer to charge. That's not the biggest problem...where the real issues come is when the phone uses higher power levels such as when syncing, streaming audio or video, browsing and perhaps most of all, navigating. You see, navigation is a combination of several high-load process at once. It's using the GPS to determine location - a battery draw. Then it's using the cellular networks to also give location information for increased accuracy, and it may also be using WIFI if it's on as well (something apparently unique to Motorola phones on Verizon). Next, it's pulling down map data as you move, and sending location information to the Google servers to obtain updated map data. It's also talking to you infrequently so it's using the audio circuitry and audio amplifier. Furthermore, it's using the CPU and GPU, RAM and other computer systems to compile and use all this information. Finally, again last but not least it's using the screen to display all this information, real-time.

    While navigating, especially using navigation in the car or while watching videos it's quite often true that the phone is using current at a rate even faster than the charger can provide, so even though the charging system "sees" the phone charging, it's actually slowly discharging at the same time - with the net result being that the battery is slowly dying over that time-frame. This creates a most unique situation for the metering system since it doesn't realize the battery is potentially (as was in your case) deep-discharging. The end result for you was that after 2 hours the battery was well below 0% - so low in fact that the phone wouldn't respond to the charger or power up once it was removed from the car adapter. This was NOT a failure of the battery, or of the phone, or even of the charger, but really a failure of all three as a combination in a unique set of circumstances. The design and purposes it was being used for were unfortunately not properly equipped to handle the already low battery level coupled with the high rate of current draw, and the charger which wasn't keeping up with the draw. So the battery was dying and the charger couldn't tell since all it could see was voltages and current rate - which while charging provide inflated values. The only way to know where the battery was in that situation was to temporarily remove the charger. It would likely have resulted in the phone shutting down immediately somewhere long before your trip was done. To minimize this, I turn off the display on the navigation and let it simply come on to tell me when to turn instead.

    Finally, since it's very difficult for the meter to accurately know what the battery's capacity is (and since it gets less over time), and also where the full charge level is and where the low battery level is, charging with power on actually makes this problem even worse, and over time the meter can be so far out of calibration with the battery's true levels that it can result in the same symptom you experienced but can happen even if not using heavy power like you were. To reduce this potential failure (or in my case eliminate it altogether), you should perform regular meter trainings, where you power the phone completely off, plug in the stock wall adapter and allow the phone to charge with power off to 100%, then power on and use until the phone alerts you of the low battery *(10% with ICS, 15% with Gingerbread), and then immediately power the phone off again and repeat the full charging with power off. This 1-charge, 2-discharge, 3-charge process, resets the level indicators in the meter so it has the best possible data about where the battery is at any given point in the charge and discharge cycle and should prevent what happened to you.

    I recently had a communication with another member via PM about some of these things and asked him if I could post his question and my reply for others to benefit from...he agreed, so below is additional helpful information.

    Last edited: Sep 3, 2012
  3. travistee
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    travistee New Member

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    I will try the battery training. When I said I charged it for two hours I meant it was on but wasn't doing anything.
    The gps wasn't on.
  4. FoxKat
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    FoxKat DF Super Moderator Staff Member Premium Member

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    That's OK. Even if the phone is simply powered on, it can use power at a rate that exceeds what some car charger adapters may supply. Also, the phone's meter can still be fooled into thinking the phone is charged when it's far from being so.

    Finally, it's not a "battery training". The battery will take what you give it and that is all. If you give it too much, it will retaliate by overheating and potentially suffering catastrophic failure. This is why the charger and meter are so important. What you will be doing is a "Meter Training", with the purpose of training the meter to recognize what the battery looks like when full and what it looks like when empty. Once the meter knows the two limits, top and bottom, it can then interpolate the levels in between.

    Also, if the charge adapter you have for the car has a coiled cord, and you have the cord stretched it can cause the connections to fail either in the plug on the adapter, at the cord entrance to the adapter, or in the phone where the socket is soldered to the board. Make sure the plug where it enters the phone has no stress on it, the cord should be relaxed so the plug is only gently resting in the socket. Same for the other end where the cord meets the car adapter. I've found that if I wrap one loop around a button on the dashboard near the top, and another on a different button or something near the bottom and let both ends be relaxed it removes the risk of the cords breaking.

    Even if there is no actual power going out the plug and into the phone, there is still a small resistor that is connected between two of the contacts inside the plug, and it's that resistor that tells the phone it's connected to a charger, which then turns on the charging circuitry and meter. If there is no power going to the phone, the phone will continue to deplete the battery even though it will show "charging" by the lightning bolt on the battery icon This could easily be the cause of your previous phone's problem. To be sure, power off the phone and then plug the charger cord in. if the phone doesn't wake up when the plug is inserted, there is no power coming to the plug.
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2012
  5. travistee
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    travistee New Member

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    My car charger is usb type with 5.1 volts and 1 amp.
    Is that ok?
    The wall charger that comes with the razr is 1V and 750 mamp.
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