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 ongoing 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
In 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. If you take a look at the top flagships from the biggest brands, it has now been a long time since we’ve had access to high end smartphones with removable batteries. Look at Samsung, for example. Their flagship range lost removable batteries with the Galaxy S5. Since then, the battery has been sealed in the smartphone, and many other manufacturers have followed suit.
Why are smartphone manufacturers using a non-removable battery?
There are several major reasons for the move towards using a non-removable battery: 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 most new smartphones, manufacturers are able to create a ‘unibody’ design. This allows for better designs that are more comfortable to hold and that have sleeker designs. Due to the unibody design, the handset itself must be solid and sealed to the outside. Some phones have glass and metal combination designs. Again, because the glass and metal are fused to each other, the handset itself must also be sealed to the outside.
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.
The LG V20 and Motorola Moto G5 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:
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. 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.
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:
You 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 unwieldy. Typically, a battery pack will also be fairly slow to charge your smartphone.
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 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).
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
In 2018, the LG V30 was the only flagship smartphone to have a removable battery. The 3,300mAh battery should give you up to 33 hours of talk time on a 3G network.
For users wanting a Samsung smartphone with a removable battery, your options are dying out. Manufacturers are finally moving away from removable batteries.
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. In fact, we’d say almost every single smartphone will release with non-removable batteries in 2019. All smartphones from Samsung, Sony, Apple, Huawei, and Nokia have non-removable batteries. You’ll see the occasional phone by Motorola and LG that have removable batteries, but even these two manufacturers are now moving away from removable batteries.
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 and the time for removable batteries may finally be coming to an end. Do you prefer having a removable battery or a non-removable battery?