Why Fuel Gauge ICs are Essential in Battery-Powered Mobile Devices

The news about smartphone manufacturers slowing down older models in order to prevent phones with older batteries from shutting down unexpectedly did not go over very well with many consumers. The intent was good, but customers still balked. What made the situation tough was that customers didn't have access to detailed battery information. This shows how important it is to make sure that consumers have access to reliable battery information.

Most of our mobile devices use lithium-ion batteries, which can degrade over time. By integrating a fuel gauge IC into your battery-powered design, however, you have a simple way to manage an aged battery. Fuel gauge ICs can provide accurate state-of-charge (SOC) information as well as these types of insights:
  • Available and reported remaining capacity: available capacity can change whenever the load or temperature changes, so the reported remaining capacity metric can be used to communicate the actual capacity that's left
  • Age and age forecast: the age parameter typically presents the percentage ratio of the present full capacity compared to the original design capacity, while the age forecast estimates how many cycles a user can get from the battery during its lifetime
  • Time-to-empty: this measurement can assess whether the battery can support the expected runtime for a hypothetical session, helping to prevent unexpected crashes
  • Battery resistance: this metric provides the calculated value of the average internal resistance of the battery
  • Timer: this capability allows the fuel gauge IC to track the battery's age in terms of absolute time stemming from the moment that the IC was first connected to the cell
Some battery fuel gauges also include secure authentication functions to prevent battery cloning. To learn more, read "How to Use Your Battery Fuel Gauge to Build Customer Trust."

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Christine Young
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