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Opinion 4 min read 66 comments

No, you don't need a smartphone with a removable battery

Smartphones with a removable battery have become increasingly rare in recent years. This feature no longer seems to be a priority for many manufacturers since there are fewer and fewer of them in this field. This trend confirms my feeling that having a smartphone with a removable battery is not really that important anymore in 2017.

The debate on removable batteries in smartphones isn’t new. I often hear people talking about why this feature has been left out of many new smartphones. I understand why this issue crops up time and again, given that until recently, a removable battery was a trademark of Android smartphones and was one of the key features that differentiated it from Apple phones - it was an important selling point for manufacturers to convert iPhone users to the Android world. So why the drastic change in just a few years? Well, it’s simply because you no longer need a removable battery.

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Apple’s iPhone initiated this trend of a non-removable battery. © AndroidPIT

Battery technological advances

There are several reasons that explain this change of situation. One of the simplest reasons is the significant evolution of batteries in recent years. Smartphones are now able to offer more thanks to improved technology, as well as give users more options, especially with regards to charging. In particular, technological advances like fast charging and wireless charging have appeared and become the norm. External batteries have improved and widened the market, thus replacing the need for a smartphone with a removable battery as users can always have a battery at hand. As a result, the removable battery is no longer as sought-after as it was once was. 

If you want more battery power, go for an external battery

Moreover, if your smartphone battery tends to lose its capacity and battery life over time, users might prefer to switch smartphones than change the battery. Typically, a smartphone battery starts to run out of steam roughly 24 months after purchase, which is often the date your phone subscription is due a renewal anyway. This battery capacity loss is often a good excuse to buy a new smartphone. It’s definitely quite consumerist and not very ecological, but it is representative of the majority of users at the moment, there's no denying it.

New purchasing criteria

Another major reason for such a change in situation is that the demand for removable batteries in smartphones has drastically reduced. Users now prefer to buy good-looking smartphones and get separate accessories according to their needs (camera, SD card, etc.). Therefore, to satisfy the new wishes of users, manufacturers have adapted and the result of this was the dismissal of a removable battery.

To make smartphones more stylish and attractive, as observed in recent years, it has often been necessary to cross off the removable battery. This gives manufacturers the ability to use more premium materials and offer more daring designs, something they couldn’t do with a removable battery. Manufacturers can organize their internal components as they wish. The absence of a removable battery also makes it easier for them to offer new features that are much appreciated by users, such as waterproofing.

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Thanks to the absence of a removable battery, the design of the Galaxy S8 was possible. © AndroidPIT

Apple initiated the trend with the iPhone, and Samsung and other companies had to resolve to it themselves after several years. It’s ultimately thanks to the abandonment of the removable battery in the Galaxy S6 that Samsung launched its new design policy, with the Galaxy S8 as the perfect result.

Finally, LG’s example also shows the lack of interest from users for removable batteries. One of only a few manufacturers who resisted surrendering with its latest flagship product, the LG G6. The LG G5, its 2016 flagship product, didn’t actually thrive as much as the South Korean brand had hoped. As it was announced to compete with the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, the modular design of the LG G5 (which offered the removable battery option) didn't seem to entice users, thus forcing LG to rethink its strategy and abandon the removable battery.

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Even LG gave in after the failure of the LG G5. © ANDROIDPIT

An option that’s no longer important

To summarize, the absence of a removable battery is no longer an issue. The loss of this feature has allowed us to benefit from other functions, which today offer a better experience that we’re no longer able to sacrifice in favor of a removable battery. And if you really miss it, you’ll find smartphones offering this feature on the market, but you’ll have to cross off choosing any top range smartphones.

Would you like to see the return of removable batteries?
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Do you have a smartphone with a removable battery? Which is it and why did you choose it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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Readers' favorite comments

  • Skyler “evo4g63t” B 8 months ago

    Ridiculous article, current phones don't last a day under heavy usage. It had nothing to do with looks either the main purpose of the design is to try to get people to upgrade their phone when the battery dies.

    What we don't need is 30 minute waterproofing and phones encased in glass.

    My main reason for continued use of removable battery is extended battery, I can use my phone any way I want and still have juice at the end of the day.

  • Greg1100 8 months ago

    If phone makers would only read these comments and act on them, we could have the best phones ever.
    NO glass backs, removable batteries, - for me, no curved screens as I always put a reinforced glass screen cover on my phones. Expansion of memory, in fact most of what has been left behind, but worked.
    The Note 4 was the last proper smart phone.

  • Willy Malone 8 months ago

    Crap article. Seems the vote is clearly in favour of the majority wanting a return of replacement batteries. Who's trying to cod whom here....

  • Mastana Mahi 8 months ago

    Older phones gave me the ability to put an extended battery. Fast charging is good as long as you have a wall socket or external battery is good if you have a place to carry. Extended battery could easily double battery life. Hence the reason I am still using Note 4 which is running perfectly and runs for two days straight under heavy usage.

  • Greg1100 8 months ago

    If you work in an office, then there are many power sockets to use to charge your phone. There are many jobs where there is NO conveniently placed wall sockets. As said above, battery packs are bulkier an probably a bit heavier than a battery and inconvenient to have a lump of plastic jutting out from the bottom of you phone.
    The change to fixed phone batteries is a part consequence of so called journalists continually bleating on about " premium looks". I would never use a phone without a case, so the back would never be seen, so plastic is perfectly good enough--super light, strong and allows for battery removal. Far better than "premium looks" glass backs- super slippery and super smashable. Stupid, stupid. I also never let my phones get anywhere near water- electronics and water have never mixed. These new phones are NOT waterproof- only water resistant.
    Mark above is perfectly correct when he says that phones are planned obsolescence. I have 2 old Galaxy S3's- still working, both with Nougat 7.1.1 running on them. As long as I can get a battery for them, I will keep them running.

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  • How is it that there are so many of us human beings agreed on this super extraordinary factor of the stupidity of smartphones with embedded batteries and no one exists in the sane world not wanting to do anything about turning around this phenomenon on its head once and for all ?
    Imagine the billions of us humans all remaining silent while all the phone manufacturers simply carry on making their sealed up slick phones and there is no one with a powerful enough voice on this earth of ours able to bring about a sensible change so that we may all begin to use our phones with a bit of wisdom and think of the power source ...the battery....and the importance of being able to replace it instantly when it needs to be ...without having to send it to a repair/service centre....
    It seems as though this world is ruled by The Mafia Clans who must regularly meet to work out how best to control us...and our elected governments blindly allow this type of nonsense to carry on without any regard is like the negative of THE ICING ON THE CAKE
    When will we grow up to see true sense and get together to bring the right kind of changes in our daily lives ?


  • Was this written by a 14 year old? He certainly looks older than that, but he has to be after reading this. This article is nothing more than a very shallow and non-researched sales pitch.


  • How much did Samsung & LG pay you to write this puff piece for them? All you're pushing is manufacturers' desires, not consumer demand. I would NEVER buy a phone without a replaceable battery. To do so would be to ask for trouble, and to pay for that trouble at premium rates.

    Planned obsolescence won't drive the market for smart phones. Wise, upgradable design with owner-replaceable parts (like replaceable batteries, SD card slots, & styluses) WILL.


  • Addison 3 weeks ago Link to comment

    What a ridiculous article. The part that got to me the most was this:

    "Typically, a smartphone battery starts to run out of steam roughly 24 months after purchase, which is often the date your phone subscription is due a renewal anyway."

    The problem with this argument is one simple truth. You have to PAY for that new phone. A phone, need I remind you, can be around $650 WITH a new contract, depending on the phone. The Pixel 2 XL for example on AT&T averages at around this price on a new contract. Why should I pay $650-$1,000 for a new phone when the one I have already does everything I want it to do, and is perfectly fine minus the battery? This is why people here want removable batteries in their phones. I'm not a person who upgrades their phone every year or two. I bought the Note 4 when it first came out in 2014, and I'm STILL using it as my phone in 2018. It still works great, and does everything I need it to do, and it's all thanks to.... you guessed it.... a removable battery!! My Note 4 is currently on it's 4th battery, as I like to change out my battery as soon as I notice it isn't holding a charge as good as it used to. At which point, all it takes is a quick visit to Amazon, $15, and 2 days of waiting for the battery to arrive. Thank God 3rd party companies still make batteries for it too!

    When I buy a new smartphone, I don't want to be forced into buying a new smartphone, just because the battery is dead. I want to make the investment when I'm ready, and be enthusiastic about a good new investment into an awesome new gadget. How am I supposed to get enthusiastic about buying a new phone when I'm only paying the money to do it because my old phone battery died? That's not exciting, it pisses me off! $650-$1,000 is a lot of money, A LOT of money. I could buy a new mid-high end computer with that kind of money, and a computer can do far more for me than a smartphone. Why should I pay that much for a phone if I am not being promised a long life for the product, just because a battery can't last for more than 1-2 years? I'll be blunt, if I'm paying $950 for a Pixel 2 XL, it better last a bare BARE minimum of 4-5 years before replacement. Period, no excuse. $950 is a lot of money. Why should I invest that much into a product that I know isn't going to last very long, regardless of any fancy new features it has? End of 2 year contract or not, you have to dump a lot of money from your checking account for that phone either way, so having a replaceable battery means when the battery dies, I don't have to worry about taking a financial hit from it, because replacing it only costs $15.

    Saying that "Your contract is up anyway, so you might as well replace the phone and upgrade." is such a high and mighty argument from someone who has a lot of money to throw into buying phones. I am not going to spend $650, $800, or $1,000 on something that I know is not going to last for more than 1-2 years. That is absurd. I don't care what fancy new features the new phone has. To me, that much money for something that won't last is NOT a good worthwhile investment. The entire reason I switched from iPhone to Android in the first place was the replaceable battery. Getting rid of it is just Android becoming more like Apple, in offering fewer choices and less freedom to the consumer as a means to get them to buy more expensive phones. You are essentially paying $1,000 for a product that has an expiration date out of the box just because of a battery that is super cheap to manufacture. SCREW....... THAT! Replaceable batteries are a must have, and if they're never coming back, then I'll just keep using my Note 4 until it dies. I am not paying that much money for something that won't last a bare minimum of 4-5 years. End of story.

    Also, the excuse of the "Premium look and feel" is also absurd, because what's the point of the premium look and feel when you're just going to put it in a case anyway? You'll never feel the back of the phone, because it'll be in a case, and if you actually use your smartphone without a case, you're setting yourself up for disaster when you accidentally drop it, and the glass on the back cracks, which by the way isn't an issue with phones with plastic backs now is it? Glass cracks, but plastic doesn't crack. More expensive phones with shorter lives due to no replaceable battery, and their more delicate now too because they're made of freaking glass. Yeah, that sure sounds like a worthwhile $1,000 investment.


  • Replaceable batteries are essential when the internal battery life is noticeably reduced as happens to ALL mobile phones. With a user replaceable one like the Galaxy Note 3 or 4, just swap out a new battery and you've got power like the phone was brand new. The author is completely uninformed about mobile technology or perhaps trying to hawk external battery packs.


  • The title of this article intrigued me as it was totally against what I believe in. So, I read it. And then it made me angry. What a stupid, stupid article to support something so stupid and selfish! They must think we have no brains.

    The comments made me feel better. Thankfully, there are people who speak common-sense. Nice to read from you guys.

    I own a LG V20, wanted to upgrade to V30, checked the spec's, saw non-removable battery, closed the page. No way, Jose! I like to upgrade to a new phone every year because I like new gadgets and I can easily afford a new phone every year or less. But now I will hold on to my V20 as long as it works or there's a worthy upgrade on the market with removable battery, SD card slot and 3.5 mm jack. So, in my case, the manufacturers lose my money by being stupid.

    When I am on a trip back home to India, I move about a lot and use power-intensive features of my phones, navigation, phone calls, text messages, whatsapp, internet, music player etc. I carry 3 spare batteries in my pocket. On long days I have been known to change batteries twice, using almost 3 batteries in the whole day. If I am carrying a backpack (don't always do) I have a power pack to charge the batteries with an LG battery charger. I don't have to remember to look for a power socket every time I enter a building, I don't worry about long journeys, I do NOT conserve battery, I do not use power saver apps. And I am never tethered to a power socket or even a power bank.

    Death to the non-removable battery!

    Peace!


  • My battery died halfway through my contract on my Sony Xperia. I had to pay an extra 300$ to pay for the balance on the phone !! For this reason I am loving my LG G5. I will NEVER own a phone without a removable battery.


  • it is consumerism and capitalism at "best" (if there is such thing, there isn't)
    this is convenient for manufacturers and extremely inconvenient for consumers
    it is not only about an aging battery. having a removable battery is also about long trips, where you can have 4-5 fully charged batteries you can use till you get to charge all of them, it is also about choice
    naturally, none of the above are advantages for manufacturers, a dumb class of imbecile consumers are not learning that bad is good for them, that bloated has advantages (like scuba diving with your phone and other stupid / apple style things like this). apple, on top of that, was recently discovered to slow down their older phones, in order to make you buy new ones, barely supperior yet exorbitant. I wonder how stupid the regular Joe consumer can get. probably, no limit.


  • The big corporations are taking the mainstream users (their core audience) for a ride. They didn't make batteries sealed to appease power users... Obviously, the opposite. They made batteries sealed so that the large majority of people wouldn't fiddle with their phones and maybe figure out how to fix them themselves. So they go into a phone store, are told their phone is new and that fixing it wouldn't be much better than buying a new phone, and ideally the company pushes out another brand new unit some way or another. Or at the very least charge for a battery replacement or a warranty that covers it. Profit either way.

    And don't talk about the the users finding phones that have removable if they want. 2017 was the removable's death, no flagship phones. LG was the final holdout that caved in for no real reason. Now if you want a removable phone that isn't budget shit, you need to get a 2016 LG or a 2014 Samsung... "Great"


  • I feel the same way as many others. I think we should expect mobile handheld devices to last 3-4yrs plus if we choose to keep them. The battery is the weakest link and should be user replaceable as shown by Apple's latest admission. Software upgrades should make users aware if they will downgrade the performance of the older phone and allow them to opt out permanently.

    I believe the culture of non user replaceable batteries is making us more wasteful as many people do not realise that a battery replaced might increase the life of their device. Some may not even be aware it is possible to replace the battery. The result is the unnecessary early purchase of a new phone which plays right into the hands of the manufacturer.

    I love new features but smartphones 2-3yrs old are now very well equipped.

    My thoughts - get out of your phone contract, go sim only, get your battery replaced before you buy a new phone and increase the life of your current device. There are many great repair services on ebay.


  • I'm so glad I have journalists to tell me what I need and don't need as a consumer.

    Wait, no...I'm not. That's not your place to do. I get to decide what features I want in the technology I'm spending my hard-earned money on. You report honestly on the benefits and drawbacks of certain features, and let me make up my own mind like the intelligent consumer you assume I'm not.


  • Nonsensical article. A ridiculous entreaty in favour of the indefensible non-replaceable battery. Further proof that the trendy set city-slickers are dead-set against the environment. The lesson to be learnt here is not to fall for any signaling but tackle them on the issues.


  • Three reasons why manufacturers and carriers don't want you to have a removable battery:
    1. Planned phone obsolescence & forced upgrade into a new plan after only a couple of year battery life span.
    2. Limited data usage because of customer fear of running out battery life from using their phone too much.
    3. Up-sell extended warranty & repair costs for fixing dead battery phones.

    None of these are to the consumers benefits, only to the manufacturer's & carrier's benefit!!!


  • Wolf Six 2 months ago Link to comment

    Wow, the author managed to be condescending and rife with error, all in one piece.

    Not to decry anyone for their personal choices, but this mentality is often found among people who don't mount a spare tire on their car or are magically caught off-guard when they are 90 miles away from the nearest gas station in the Mojave...looking for a charging station for their electric car.

    Look, we love spare battery function and water resistance. The Galaxy S5 had both and dominated the market for some time. With an LG G5 or V20, you can *still* have water resistance with the addition of a lifeproof case. There is no reason -other than what seems to be a trend of planned obsolescence- why we cannot have flagship phones with removable batteries.

    As for cases- I know some people love sleek looks. Heck, I like pretty things, too. But even if I had a waterproof phone, I'd still own a case. How many times have you glanced at a random person's phone to see a cracked screen?

    Whether you admit it or not, you depend on your phone- with navigation, information and the ability to accurately summon emergency services if needed. Essentially, your life depends on that piece of *very* expensive equipment functioning when and where you need it, not just when conditions are convenient. When your battery starts to die or is shot to the point of barely keeping a 7 hour charge, are you just gonna wing it?

    Let's think of another $500+ tool that could be used to assist you- a handgun. When you carry a handgun, do you carry it without a holster? Would you only keep a handful of rounds in your magazine? If/when your magazine fails (this is the weakest link in most firearms) or runs dry, do you just chuck it at a person and hope for the best? Absolutely not. You carry it in a holster (case) to protect it and yourself from damage, you carry a spare magazine.

    Personally, I am not a "hope for the best" kind of person. Everything mechanical will fail you to some degree at some point. I don't want to be the poor sap hugging a wall because my pretty little phone can't hold a charge 20 months after I buy it or the guy who is stranded on the side of the road because I didn't have a spare tire. How are phones -if they have truly become so important- any different?

    Semper Paratus,

    WolfSix


  • Tim Flynn 3 months ago Link to comment

    It is apparent that the writer is nothing more than a shill for the cell phone industry and makes no pretense about it.

    "Typically, a smartphone battery starts to run out of steam roughly 24 months after purchase, which is often the date your phone subscription is due a renewal anyway."

    So, according to this guy, everyone SHOULD happily become the equivalent of Apple customers who, lemming-like, line up days in advance WHENEVER a new IPhone comes out to shell out $800-$1000 on a phone they DEFINITELY DO NOT NEED except for the fact that their batteries are non-removable.


  • David G. 3 months ago Link to comment

    Modern "Cell Phones" are really very powerful hand held computers that happen to make phone calls. No one would willingly buy a laptop or netbook without a removable battery that can be replaced when it goes bad (which all now use Ni-MH 18650 cells that eventually go bad) so why would you want a hand held computer that costs almost as much as a high end laptop that will be useless when the battery dies?! A lot of consumers use MVNOs like Boost, Ting, Tracphone, etc. and don't replace their phones every couple of years because they aren't tied to an overpriced contract that embeds the (inflated) cost of that shiny new phone in the exorbitant monthly fees.

    I have a Galaxy S5 and have "8" replacement batteries for it and have had to recycle another "6" that have worn out over time. I keep a spare battery in my billfold so I always have an instant backup. I will not be replacing my S5 with a phone that can't remove the battery easily. In fact if I ever have to replace this phone I will probably just get another S5 (albeit most likely refurbished) because it A.) does everything I want it to do B.) is very stable and performs very well C.) is water proof and impact resistant D.) is easy to make minor repairs such as replacing the camera lens, power port door, back cover, screen, etc. and E.) runs the newer versions of Android allowing me to stay current. I'd like a shiny new Galaxy S8, LG V30 or similar but I don't want to pay $800 for something that will be dead in 24 months and a new battery for my S5 is only 5 bucks (other parts are just as cheap).

    For most professionals, function and form win out over looks and style when it comes to computers, i.e. "Cell Phones". We use our cell phones. We don't wear them like a hat.


  • I have a s5 and a s3 as back up until samsung comes out with a new removable battery phone. Watch out samsung, lg might beat you to the punch.


  • nobody 5 months ago Link to comment

    If the article was written by a manufacturer it makes sense because they figured out how to force people to buy a new phone when the battery dies from allowing it to discharge too often. ALL Li battery have heat and discharge issues and when people let them run down they do not recharge to a full level even though they show 100%. Samsung figured it out with the Galaxy 7 and Apple figured it out from the beginning. Until people demand replacement battery phones and tell the manufacturers their bull on thinner phones is the reason it will not stop.

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