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Smartphones: Where to buy high capacity, heavy duty replacement batteries for Android handsets

by on May.30, 2011, under Great Finds, Tips & Advice

One of the most disappointing aspects of the Android smartphone device explosion is the lingering impotency of battery performance. Sure, users of Android devices can all extend battery life by running power management applications like JuiceDefender and by cultivating conservative usage habits, but what we really need here is a rapid improvement in the performance of batteries. Battery R&D was clearly left behind while the manufacturers were all trying to out-do each other over screen, processor and camera performance.

Fortunately, while the pleas from the early adopters to the device manufacturers to address this debilitating problem appear to have fallen on deaf ears, other smaller manufacturers have taken notice. In fact, a surprising number of 3rd party battery manufacturers have now stepped up to bat, offering replacement batteries offering everything from slight to massive performance improvements. For current owners of Android smartphones the challenge now lies in answering the questions “What are my options for replacement batteries and where can I buy them?”

Having dedicated some time to this matter myself and successfully upgraded batteries on three different Android smartphones (a Samsung Galaxy S, an HTC Desire HD and a Motorola Milestone XT720) I decided to compile a list of popular devices, sorted alphabetically, with links to sellers of the highest capacity replacement batteries available. Many of these are super heavy-duty upgrades, leading to up to three times the runtime between charges (when compared to original stock batteries). These batteries tend to be over-sized, and ship with replacement back-plates for the phone. You can see what I mean with the Samsung Galaxy S example in the video below.


 

As for the table, while it is not a comprehensive list, I would love some encouragement and assistance to help it grow. If you have any requests for information on alternative batteries for specific devices or you’d like to share your experiences or add information to this chart, please leave a detailed comment at the end of this article.

Brand Model Stock Battery Capacity Maximum Battery Capacity Purchase from
         
Google Google Nexus One 1500mAh 3000mAh (with cover) DinoDirect.com
         
HTC HTC Bravo 1400mAh 3000mAh (with cover) DinoDirect.com
  HTC Desire A8181 1400mAh 3000mAh (with cover) DinoDirect.com
  HTC Desire 1400mAh 3000mAh (with cover) DinoDirect.com
  HTC Desire HD 1230mAh 1800mAh obostore.com
  HTC Droid Eris 1300mAh 1500mAh DinoDirect.com
  HTC Hero 1350mAh 3200mAh (with cover) Mugen Power
  HTC Incredible 1450mAh 1500mAh DinoDirect.com
  HTC Legend 1300mAh 1800mAh Mugen Power
  HTC Thunderbolt 1400mAh 1500mAh DinoDirect.com
  HTC Wildfire 1300mAh 1800mAh Mugen Power
         
LG LG Optimus 2X 1500mAh 4500mAh (with cover) Mugen Power
         
Motorola Motorola Milestone 1400mAh 2000mAh DinoDirect.com
  Motorola Milestone XT720 1400mAh 2000mAh DinoDirect.com
         
Samsung Samsung Fascinate 1500mAh 3500mAh (with cover) DinoDirect.com
  Samsung Galaxy S 1500mAh 3500mAh (with cover) DinoDirect.com
  Samsung Vibrant 1500mAh 3500mAh (with cover) DinoDirect.com
         
Sony Ericsson Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 1500mAh 2600mAh (white cover) Amazon.com
  Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 1500mAh 2600mAh (black cover) Amazon.com

Dan Monceaux

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Smartphones: Finding high capacity replacement batteries for Android devices

by on May.19, 2011, under Great Finds, Tips & Advice

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 DinoDirect.com . 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.


Purchase this battery now from DinoDirect.com

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.


Purchase this battery now from DinoDirect.com

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

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Smartphones: Motorola XT720 burns early adopters with limited mobile features and no Android 2.2 upgrade

by on Jan.06, 2011, under Tips & Advice

Back in August I bought my first Android smartphone, Motorola’s XT720. It rocked a 720p HD video camera and an 8MP stills camera with xenon flash- a major lure to a digital media content creator like myself. It was also one of the first of its kind to offer an HDMI output. Combined with a wireless Bluetooth keyboard, this unlocked in my mind the promise of this handset replacing my laptop and functioning as a true pocket PC.

Motorola XT720 back with 8MP camera & xenon flash

Alas, Motorola fell short of answering my prayers with the XT720. My first revelation was that the HDMI output is extremely limited in its usefulness. The port only plays 720p video via the Gallery application. I was shocked by this, as my prior handset, the LG Viewty Smart, reproduced its entire interface over an analog TV output with much more primitive hardware under the hood. An independent app developer set to work on this problem, releasing an app called RealHDMI some months back. This solved the problem on the device’s bigger brother, the Motorola Droid X, and reportedly did the same on the XT720. Shortly after its release, the application was voluntarily retracted from the Android market after correspondence with Motorola. The app switched the devices display from the handset to the HDMI out, allowing the HDMI out to serve as the primary monitor. Clearly this unlocks the true power of the device and it infuriates me that Motorola not only crippled the device with this imposed limitation, but has prevented independent developers from opening up this exciting possibility.

Motorola XT720 with provided HDMI cable attached

While the XT720’s screen itself is great to look at (WVGA 854 x 480 pixels) and the device’s angular design is pleasing, a truly useful HDMI output remains elusive. So much for me realising the pocket PC dream and shelving my laptop in 2010.

Another rude surprise was the pain caused by the limited 150Mb of internal storage on the device. The microSD card slot can take high capacity cards up to 16Gb. ‘So no problem,’ I thought. More fool me, as the provided operating system, Android 2.1, does not support the installation of apps directly to the SD card. Inevitably, as the internal storage fill up with apps and other data, the performance of the device gets laggy and the device yelps constantly about lack of storage space. This was something to be remedied with the Android 2.2 upgrade. Then came the news from Motorola.

In their infinite wisdom, Motorola denied XT720 users an Android 2.2 upgrade… unless you have a Korean handset, in which case you’re probably already running 2.2! While a petition was started to overturn this decision, the likelihood of success is as limited as the device itself. Lucky for us, the independent development community has a couple of bandaid solutions which help compensate for Motorola’s failings. If you’re reading this and shaking your head knowingly, check out Apps2SD and Milestone Overclock applications… or better still, flash your phone with a rom that has all the patches to compensate for Motorola’s sub-par support of the early-adopter tech community. Needless to say, my next phone won’t be a Motorola… in fact LG’s dual core Optimus 2X with 1080p HD camera and HDMI out is looking like a worthy successor.

Dan Monceaux

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