Every day I read about; optimizing the OS to improve battery, task managers to kill apps to save battery, new screen technologies to minimize battery drain, new processors, modified multitasking, radio improvements, new memory schemes, all in an effort to maximize the potential uptime for our phone batteries. So, it appears obvious that OEMs consider battery uptime to be an important issue, probably one of the top five on any hardware wish list. Why then do they continue to chose anemic batteries for our, “more powerful, larger screen, more things to do with” phones.

Granted, not everyone is a moderate/heavy user requiring more power, and thin is in, but that doesn’t mean that we all can’t have our cake and eat it too. I can go along with an OEM designing a device with a low capacity battery, that keeps the phone thin, light, and less expensive, and will usually get most light/moderate users through a full 16 hour day. But where does that leave the moderate and moderate/heavy users. Tethered to a power source most likely. If given the choice between; a.) plugging in whenever you get a chance, wearing down the life of your stock battery, or b.) enjoying lots of extra juice, requiring fewer charge cycles thus extending the life of the battery, at the cost of a couple millimeters and a few grams, most power users will choose Option b.

After my recent journey into the charlatan after-market battery world, it has become more obvious that most OEMs don’t actually use that may different battery sizes. For example, HTC Surround=HTC Inspire 4G=HTC Desire HD. Or, HTC Trophy=HTC Desire Z=T-Mobile G2=HTC Incredible S. And, HTC TouchPro/Tilt2=HTC Evo 4G. Pretty much if you you see different phones from the same OEM, and the stock battery is the same size rating, there is a good chance it is the same battery.

Rather than driving users to the disappointing “too good to be true” battery alternatives, why don’t OEMs add an extended battery (which requires a new battery door) to their catalog at the same time they introduce a new phone. Yes, it does cost some dollars to design the battery and battery door, but it’s a lot easier to design/manufacture both at the same time rather than doing it as an afterthought. Charging premiums, typically $59.95 for an extended battery and $19.95 for a replacement door, should more than cover the costs and burden of any speculative minimal inventory. Might even turn out to be more profitable than the phone itself. And adding an extended battery for a device six to nine months into its sellable life cycle is almost guaranteed to be a failure, and if that’s the plan don’t bother. Sure, there are alternatives; additional stock batteries (removing those battery doors do suck though), docking/charging cradles, portable USB chargers, and (I shudder at the thought) using your phone less. But nothing like having that extra power if and when you need it. Sort of the same problem some consumers are having when considering a new electric car. Keep those charging stations spaced close together please.

So, for those devices where your battery is accessible, are you happy with your battery capacity? Or would you jump at the thought of an OEM extended battery, typically 60-90% more capacity (2200-2400mAh), even though it will cost a few clams and add some bulk to your device? What say you.

9 COMMENTS

  1. That would be cool I guess, choice and so on is all fantastic.

    But honestly? Given that you can jam lithium-polymer batteries in all kinds of silly nooks and crannies, I’d far rather take an extra few mm to boost a battery’s size. User servicable/removable batteries are great, but when we’re talking about say a 1500mAh removable battery, vs taking that space and jamming 2200-2500mAh of lithium polymer in the same area…I’m all for sealed batteries.

  2. @Andrew: I am good with the sealed battery idea. But two assumptions; the battery is in the 2200-2500mAh range, and it is at least possible to change it out as a DIY project.

    Don’t want to be restricted by a sealed cell for a mere 200-300mAh. And I would rather not have to send my device out for servicing should the battery need replacing, so no proprietary screws or other shenanigans. I can change the battery in my $1000 watch, so why not my cellphone.

    Now if you are talking about some technology other than lithium polymer, that will double my battery capacity and longevity (and require Hazmat cleanup should I accidently cut my phone open with a band saw), you can weld the sucker shut. No problem with that.

  3. Would have been dissapointed if you didn’t comment iChris. Of course, the engineer in me is still trying to grasp the why and how, but that would be an article for another day.

  4. To follow up, no, there’s no point sealing the battery in for a small 200mAh difference. But certainly, if it means going from 1500 to 2500mAh or so. I am *all* for that!

  5. still wouldnt be for sealing a battery in unless they have a 5 year 5000 charge life. i change my own oil and brakes im damn sure going to have a phone i can change my own battery in

  6. Apple’s success with sealed batteries, both in phones, tablets and now even in laptops, is testament, I think, not just to the quality of their products but to the relative lack of demand for such enlarged batteries and the lack of potential and above-nominal profitability with it as you’re contending. It’s just a waste of resources, I’m guessing (unless they never considered this). We thought that was absurd, sealing up the back like Apple did, but maybe they’re onto something.

    What’s not a waste of resources is making your phones thin as hell while keeping the battery life just good enough that the phone doesn’t get put on the map by its shitty battery life. For the pockets of larger handful of consumers that want spares for a particular device, if your phone’s life is as sad as the Thunderbolt’s, okay, but for everyone else, they know where to find ebay.

  7. Canon 2590B002 CG-800 Lithium Ion Battery Charger for 800 Series Batteries (Retail Packaging) (Electronics)I mean, what can you really say about it? Place braetty in charger and watch it charge! Very exciting. It comes in a large red box. The charger is small and should be easy to store while traveling. I don’t understand why Canon does not include this with the camera. Well I do know, more money selling it by itself. A very useful item to have. Very expensive for what it is but what choice do you have. 5 stars for design of it but it loses a star for the price.

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