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This $30 gadget claims to add years to your phone's lifespan. Here's how

Overcharging is the enemy of lithium-ion batteries. This cheap gadget claims to solve this problem.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor
LAVA Charge-Check

LAVA Charge-Check.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Overcharging is bad for the lithium-ion batteries inside your devices. This issue is why companies like Apple have introduced charge optimization features to their devices. But many devices don't have these kinds of protections -- and their batteries can suffer if they are left on charge for extended periods.

Now, Canadian firm LAVA Computers has a simple and low-cost gadget that claims to add years to your device's battery life.

Also: The best MagSafe battery packs

Called Charge-Check, this compact, universal plug-and-play adapter uses Battery Modulation to protect your lithium-ion battery from overcharge and bloating. 

View at LAVA

LAVA Charge-Check features

  • For any device that charges over USB
  • Features Continuously Active Battery Modulation (CABM)
  • Requires power supply capable of at least 5V, 2A (device charger recommended)
  • Supports 9V, 2A fast charging
  • Micro-USB to USB-A cable included
  • 2 x status LEDs 
Charge-Check is small and lightweight

Charge-Check is small and lightweight.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Using Charge-Check is simple. You pop it in-line with whatever device you are currently charging, and it starts working straight away.

There's a built-in default charge strategy, where Charge-Check monitors charge level of the device using CABM (Continuously Active Battery Modulation) and charges the battery until sufficiently topped-up for up to a maximum of 4 hours. 

Also: 5 ways to keep your smartphone working like new, for longer

At this point, Charge-Check will stop charging for a fixed length of time, the default being 3 hours, before attempting to top-up the battery again. According to LAVA, this is a good strategy because lithium-ion batteries are proven to last longer when the battery's charge percentage is kept in the 50-60% charge zone.

The power input is a micro-USB port

The power input is a micro-USB port.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

You can customize the amount of time -- from 1 hour to 5 hours -- using the button on the front, and Charge-Check can also be set to do a single charge and then stop.

Also: Your Apple charger may be a counterfeit, and this tiny gadget can tell

On the front of Charge-Check are a pair of LEDs that act as charge indicators, but if you charge things at night in your bedroom, these could become annoying, so LAVA have included a night-mode feature that turns these lights off.

The LEDs on the front can be turned off

The LEDs on the front can be turned off.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

I've been testing this device and it does what it says in terms of controlling charging, and does so without overheating or causing any problems. In fact, it's a great tool for looking after things that you keep on charge and turn to every so often. 

For example, on my workbench I have an LED light, thermal camera, and power bank that are constantly on charge, and I feel adding Charge-Check to the equation would help keep the batteries in these devices healthier for longer.

Also: The best power banks for recharging your devices

Note that the output port on Charge-Check is USB-A, and with the supply of these cables dwindling, rapidly being replaced by USB-C, you might need to dig out older cables from your stash, or use a USB-A to USB-C adapter, which I've tested and works fine.

The power output is a USB-A port

The power output is a USB-A port.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

The only thing I can't test right now is how much extra battery lifespan Charge-Check would give me. However, the way it charges is certainly better in terms of lifespan, and it will be a lot better than just piling power into a device continually. I think this tool is perfect for devices that are on charge for extended periods of time. It's certainly an innovative solution to a tricky problem. 

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