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Removable VS Non-Removable Batteries

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A major trend over the past few years has been the move to seal batteries inside of a smartphone. Instead of having easily-replaceable batteries, many modern smartphones won’t even allow you to access it.

 

In this article, we look at the on-going debate between having removable batteries and non-removable batteries. We’ll also look at some popular smartphones and which type of battery they contain inside.

 

The Trend Towards Sealing Batteries In Your Smartphone

 

Galaxy S6 DesignIn the early days of mobile technology, the majority of handsets had a user-removable battery. With a user-removable battery, it’s super easy to replace or change the battery in your smartphone.

 

Lately, the trend has reversed with an increasing number of smartphones having a non-removable battery. The latest convert is Samsung with their Galaxy S6: it’s the first time Samsung has sealed the battery in their flagship high-end smartphone. Indeed, almost every flagship smartphone released this year has a sealed battery that can’t easily be replaced. LG’s G4 is the only exception: it’s the only 2015 flagship to have a user-removable battery.

 

Why Are Smartphone Manufacturers Using A Non-Removable Battery?

 

There are several major reasons for the move towards using a non-removable battery:

 

  1. It allows for a more premium design. The main reason for the move towards non-removable batteries is the ability to use more premium-feeling materials in the design of the phone.

    On the iPhone 6 and the One M9, Apple and HTC have built the phone from a single block of aluminium. Due to the aluminium unibody, the handset itself must be solid and sealed to the outside. With the Galaxy S6, Samsung has moved towards using a glass-and-metal design. Again, because the glass and metal are fused to each other, the handset itself must also be sealed to the outside.

    iPhone 6 and One M9
    Both Apple’s iPhone 6 and HTC’s One M9 are made from an aluminium unibody. Because of the aluminium unibody, the battery is sealed inside of the handset.

    On smartphones with a user-removable battery, there’s normally a flexible plastic back which allows the battery to be accessed. As the back cover is designed to be taken off, it must be somewhat flexible, bendable and soft. A criticism is that plastic phones can sometimes feel cheap: it’s for this reason many manufacturers have moved to a metal design.

    LG G4 and Galaxy S5
    The LG G4 and Samsung Galaxy S5 have removable plastic backs which allow you to access the battery inside.

    While it is sometimes possible to build a solid metal phone where you’re able to access the battery inside, it’s fairly rare for smartphone manufacturers to actually develop their phones in such a way. The Samsung Wave 3 (released in 2011) is one rare example of a metal phone where you can access the battery inside:

    Samsung Wave 3
    The Samsung Wave 3 is built from aluminium but still allows you to access the battery inside. The metal back cover will slide upwards to give you access to the battery.

  2. Having a non-removable battery allows for better use of space in the handset. With a user-removable battery, the phone must be designed in such a way to make it possible to access the battery. It’s not possible for the battery to be covered by another component. There may also need to be a door for the battery along with relevant struts and latches to hold it in place. With a sealed design, all of these extra components can be removed from the phone allowing for a thinner and slimmer overall design.

  3. It reduces the risk of people using unofficial batteries. The use of counterfeit or unofficial batteries can sometimes be a safety hazard. With a sealed smartphone, there’s no risk of anyone using a counterfeit battery.

The Benefits Of Having A Removable Battery

 

Traditionally, there have been a number of key reasons why people prefer having a removable battery:

 

  1. Removable BatteryYou can quickly swap in a fully-charged replacement battery. With removable batteries, it’s possible to carry round a fully-charged spare. This is super useful for when you aren’t able to conveniently charge your smartphone (e.g. on long trips away). While it’s also possible to use a portable battery pack, a battery pack is much more bulky and unwieldly. Typically, a battery pack will also be fairly slow to charge your smartphone.

  2. You can change the battery without replacing the whole phone. Over time, the capacity of your smartphone’s battery will naturally reduce. After a few years of using the phone every day, you’ll have much worse battery life than you did at the beginning. On a smartphones with a user-removable battery, you can simply buy a new battery to get a fresh lease of life. On sealed devices, there’s no option but to replace your whole smartphone (this is much more expensive and creates electronic waste).

  3. You can sometimes extend your phone with a larger-capacity battery. For certain smartphones, you’re able to buy an extended capacity battery. The new battery slots in to the back of your smartphone and gives you up to double the original battery life.

    Note: if you’re planning to buy an extended capacity battery, it’s highly recommended you choose a reputable brand.

Today’s Smartphones & The Type Of Battery They Contain

 

So far in this article, we’ve compared the benefits of having a non-removable battery and having a removable battery.

 

Now you’ve managed to decide which type of battery you want in your new smartphone, the table below will show you the type of battery used in popular smartphones. For each device, we’ve also listed the battery capacity and the advertised talk time when using a 3G network.

 

Smartphones with a Removable Battery

 

So far this year, the LG G4 is the only flagship smartphone to have a removable battery. The mighty 3,000mAh battery should give you up to 20 hours of talk time on a 3G network. For a mid-range device, the Lumia 640 and Lumia 640 XL also have user-removable batteries.

 

For users wanting a Samsung smartphone with a removable battery, the Galaxy S5 and Galaxy Note 4 remain highly popular choices.

 

Handset

Removable Battery?

Battery Capacity

Talk Time (3G)

LG G3

Yes

3,000mAh

Up to 21 hours

LG G3 S

Yes

2,540mAh

Up to 15 hours

LG G4

Yes

3,000mAh

Up to 20 hours

Microsoft Lumia 640

Yes

2,500mAh

Up to 17.5 hours

Microsoft Lumia 640 XL

Yes

3,000mAh

Up to 23.7 hours

Samsung Galaxy S5

Yes

2,800mAh

Up to 21 hours

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Yes

2,100mAh

Up to 10 hours

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Yes

3,220mAh

Up to 21 hours


Smartphones with a Non-Removable Battery

 

If you’re not too bothered about having a removable battery, there’s much more choice in terms of the smartphones you can buy. Popular options include the iPhone 6, the Galaxy S6, the HTC One M9 and the Xperia Z3+:

 

Handset

Removable Battery?

Battery Capacity

Talk Time (3G)

Apple iPhone 6

No

1,810mAh

Up to 14 hours

Apple iPhone 6 Plus

No

2,915mAh

Up to 24 hours

Apple iPhone 5s

No

1,560mAh

Up to 10 hours

HTC One M8S

No

2,840mAh

Up to 20 hours

HTC One M9

No

2,840mAh

Up to 21.7 hours

Huawei P8

No

2,680mAh

-

Huawei Honor 6+

No

3,600mAh

-

Huawei Honor 7

No

3,100mAh

-

Moto X Play

No

3,630mAh

-

Moto X Style

No

3,000mAh

-

Moto G (3rd Generation)

No

2,390mAh

-

Motorola Nexus 6

No

3,220mAh

-

Samsung Galaxy S6

No

2,550mAh

-

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

No

2,600mAh

-

Sony Xperia Z3+

No

2,930mAh

Up to 17 hours

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact

No

2,600mAh

Up to 14 hours

 

Your Thoughts…

 

In this article, we’ve compared the benefits of having non-removable and removable batteries in your smartphone. The general trend is towards non-removable batteries but many people still prefer having a removable battery.

 

For more information and for related reading around the topic, see our article on the battery revolution. You can also see the top 5 things to know about charging your smartphone and our top tips on how to preserve your smartphone’s battery life.

 

Do you prefer having a removable battery or a non-removable battery? Did Samsung make the right choice in moving to a non-removable battery on the Galaxy S6? We’d love to hear your thoughts and comments: please drop us a message below and let us know what you think!

 

Ken Lo writes about mobile technology and the mobile industry at Ken's Tech Tips.

64 Comments
I was born right here
Fantastic blog Very informative.
instructor
I prefer removable batteries
soothsayer
Hey just to say my phone kills these. OnePlus One, 3100Mah non-removable Li-Po (not Li-ion) and a talk time of 35 hours. Thing is if it had a removable battery it would only be 2500Mah due to the extra construction. And Polymer battery's run both colder and can handle higher temperatures but cost more to produce. I love my phone Smiley Happy
beginner
I like the new smart phones no battery problems
consultant
I prefer removable. Esp when im out all day. And phone goes flat.
consultant
My phone is s5. Removeable battery. ALot easier
sensei

Lack of removeable battery has become enough of a problem that half the people I see out during the day are plugged into an external booster.

steward

I have a removable battery, and I would not buy a phone with out one. I always like to have a spare battery in case of emergencies!!

expert
Can you not send it off to apple/Sony/Samsung And pay for a new battery??? Anyone confirm? Mobile phone shops can do it on some but voids warrantySmiley Sad

I've replaced the battery on my Samsung, and as a result I've been able to extend its life considerably! Replaceable batteries rule!