Smartphones: Finding high capacity replacement batteries for Android devices

When we switched on our first Android smartphones in 2010, we were thrilled with the possibilities of at last having a powerful pocket computer and cellphone in one convenient package. Since then, we’ve been impressed by Google’s operating system upgrades and the rapid growth of applications on offer in the Android market. One bedbug that just keeps on biting however is the need to keep chargers in the car, home and office. With a stock battery and moderate use, not a day goes by when my smartphone doesn’t cry out for a recharge.

There are two ways to manage this problem. The first involves changing your behaviour, and that of your operating system and applications. The more functions you run on the device (wifi, bluetooth, gps etc) and the more applications you have running simultaneously, the faster your battery will discharge. Keeping a power widget on your desktop is a good start, and making sure you only turn on a phone feature when you need it (and turn it off again afterwards). Similarly, killing background applications is good practice, and there are a number of apps in the Android market which can make this easy.

Another cost-effective strategy to reducing charger-dependency is to seek out a high capacity replacement battery to suit your handset. We have done this recently with two handsets: Samsung’s Galaxy S and Motorola’s Milestone XT720. In most cases, you won’t find high capacity or heavy duty batteries offered by the manufacturers of the devices themselves. Instead, a number of third party manufacturers have identified the opportunity to answer consumers cries, albeit with varying success.

Our grand success story is that of our Samsung Galaxy S replacement battery upgrade. After searching for the battery offering the highest available capacity, we ordered this 3500 mAh battery from . The stock Samsung battery (which ships with the handset) holds a meager 1500 mAh, so we were expecting at least twice as much runtime from the changeover. Put to work immediately, the substitute battery now only requires charging every three days on average, when previously charging was a daily imperative. You can see a video of the battery and its installation below.

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A less successful upgrade was that of my Motorola Milestone XT720. I swapped out the stock 1390 mAh battery with a 2000 mAh Deji Business Battery. I could not find any information or reviews about the battery and its effectiveness when used in combination with my phone. Evidently, the battery works well with the Motorola Droid A855 for which it was principally designed. Unfortunately, despite providing improved runtime in my XT720, the Froyo 2.2 battery meter was not able to measure the battery’s charge accurately, leading to some very frustrating behaviours. You can find out more in the video below.

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It is clear that battery life was low on the priority list for first wave Android cellphone designers and manufacturers. Compared to processor speeds, screen size and quality and overall form factor, battery life didn’t get a look in! Inevitably, as these devices are gradually refined, battery technology, software streamlining and devices’ power economy will all improve. Sadly for now, Android users will have to keep chargers at the ready, fiddle with power management applications and turn to replacement batteries for a stop-gap solution.

Dan Monceaux