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Opinion 4 min read 82 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 11 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 11 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.

  • Mastana Mahi 11 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.

  • Willy Malone 11 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....

  • Diz 11 months ago

    WTF ?? are you for real? The reason I have resisted upgrading to a newer Note from my sterling Note 4 is PRECISELY because there isn't a removable battery on newer models. I like SD card slot and 3.5mm headphone socket too. I use them all, all the time. Don't iPhone me with stuff I'm told I need like the designers of Excel 1.0.

    As others have mentioned before me, I don't care about glass/bamboo/carbon fiber/titanium backs I cover mine up with a slimline rubber case for better grip, grip, yeah grip so the damn thing doesn't slide off onto the floor at 10 degree tilt. Or out of my pocket like a wet bar of soap

    Thank God the 'guru' that wrote this piece doesn't design phones..... I hope.

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  • Using the LG G5 as an "example" of people not wanting removable batteries is malarkey -- we want removable batteries, what we do NOT want is batteries that are a pain in the ass to remove... popping that thing in and out of those prongs, and juggling the bottom of the phone while you do it is grossly unwieldy .. as if they designed it to fail.


  • Eric L. 2 weeks ago Link to comment

    I hate when companies tell me what I need. I won't buy a smart phone without a removable battery or SD card slot. I do a lot of work out in areas with no electricity and no signal. I take my G5 with me and 3 or 4 spare batteries and it's perfect. I can't access google photos to upload my pictures so that's why I need a SD card slot. Everything is becoming so cookie cutter. If I wanted an iPhone I would go get one, but I have a brain and actually like personalized things so I went with Android.


  • utter nonsense! I just bought a G5 when my LG V10 died. Why? because it was the only phone I could find with a replaceable battery! I travel. I take photos. I carry MULTIPLE extra batteries so I can swap out on the fly and keep going - while my friends are looking for an outlet, or going back to the hotel to charge their phones, I can keep touring. don't freaking try to tell me I don't need that ability. what i don't need is a thinner (and therefore easier to drop) phone that I'm going to put in a protective case anyway. or a phone I can walk around pouring champagne on (such idiocy). I DO need a swappable battery, a headphone jack and the I/R blaster (yes, I use it). all functions makers are removing while charging more. and that's utter bullshit IMNSHO


    • Preach it brother! Only reason I still use my LG V20 is swapable batteries. I travel every few months and I will not start hunting for an outlet in an airport because by phone died all of a sudden. I usually carry one spare just in case I need more than 12 hours and if I travel I always have 3 batteries for those long overseas flights.

      Sure I could carry one of those battery chargers, but they are bulky and very inconvenient.

      The only reason companies are dropping the ability to swap your batteries is planned obsolescence. After 2 years those phones with clued in internals are as good as trash. Very sad they also cost 900$+

      So yes, this article is idiotic. There is a real need for phones you can swap your batteries. Until you have a phone with a battery that lasts a week and will not decay over 2 years I am not swapping to any new phone... frankly it would be a downgrade!

      Can't understand why there isn't a super premium phone with swapable batteries, I would pay 1000+ for the option if it also came with an sd card!


    • I've since swapped the G5 for an LG Stylo 3 Plus.... the battery is less of a pain to swap out, I like the stylus.... too bad the camera isn't as good.


  • ****** all phone manufacturers...don't expect you will gain smart customer using this cheap trick of yours..do you think planned obsolence will bring any benefit to you huh?? What a bullshi*...perhaps you can only do that when everything you believe in is just fucking money...******


  • I was hoping that this article would reveal some magic technology I've been missing but managed to cite not even one reason why I don't need a rechargeable battery.

    I'll give you a good reason. I was using the battery-hungry Google Maps on my phone in Rome, miles away from my hotel, when the battery died. Thanks to having a Note4, I carry a spare charged battery, popped it in and was on my way to the restaurant. I would have been dead in the water without it.

    And, wrong, a lot of us DON'T have two-year "free phone replacement" contracts. I own my phone and with new smartphones costing as much as a decent laptop computer there's no way I can afford to ditch my phone every 24 months just because the battery won't take a charge anymore. Again, thanks to my seven year-old Note4, I just buy a new battery for like $9 every year.

    I intend to nurse this Note4 until it dies of old age. And I have another spare I bought on eBay when that happens. What's next? Cars you have to replace when it needs an oil change?


  • This article is COMPLETE BS. We know the reason why: planned obsolescence. Batteries are always the first thing to go and we KNOW the phone companies expect this to lead to increased sales.


  • I have a Galaxy S5. I've had it about 5 years. I've changed the battery 5 times because the reception at work has been terrible. I've gotten into the habit of turning off data when I'm not actively using it. Just 2 months ago, the reception got better. I don't know if Verizon did that or work bought a base station. If I get 3 years off the battery I just put in, I will consider buying a phone with a glued in battery. I may require a battery warranty to go there.


  • I own a 2014 Samsung Galaxy Note 4, with a removable battery and extra micro-sd card slot. If it keeps lasting, I'm good to roll with this for years to come. A non-removable battery means clearly that the phone is not worth having, that it has planned obsolescence baked right into it. And having to manually reset a phone that has locked up when you can't remove the battery? Nightmare. There is no good argument for non-removable batteries...as this boneheaded article abundantly, unintentionally proved.


  • carpevis 2 months ago Link to comment

    I can NOT believe how deeply of the phone manufacturer KookAid spring the author of this article drank. Given the almost universal hatred toward batteries the consumer can't replace themselves, one might be tempted to find the cave in which he lives and invite him to visit reality once every year or so.

    That's all that it would have taken for someone with the stones to put their op-ed out there to bother learning what the rest of the world thinks.

    Battery tech improved? Um, no, not really. The flagships today last a whole lot LESS time than my 2 year old LG with a consumer replaceable battery. It's not lasting 3 days anymore, so I'm thinking about replacing the battery. That'll set me back a whopping $25 bucks, and I can keep my phone the whole time.

    Why would I go out and buy something else? It works. It does all I want a phone to do.

    Manufacturers HATE people like me.

    What was wanted was higher turnover in phone purchases. That's it. The rest was rationalizations and opportunity to make good on those rationalizations. I could care less if I pulled out a phone that makes other people scream in terror and flee into the night. LOOKS aren't important to the practical. They're not even on the "do I care about this?" list. They want FUNCTIONAL (and durable would be a good thing, too).

    Spending hundreds of dollars per year on a flagship that has designed obsolescence and a functionally useful life of two years is, well, not desirable. That's not "courage", that's marketing for profits. It's the right of companies to do that, but it's not "right" when it comes to respecting consumer choice and demand.


  • 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 months 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.


  • Ike Malk 3 months ago Link to comment

    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!


    • Same happened to me, was looking at the V30, but non removable battery was a no go. I would most likely buy a new phone every year for new and amazing tech. But non swapable batteries? Nope, will stick with the V20 until I find another phone with replaceable batteries. If it never comes, guess I'll get another v20 from ebay if mine dies...


      • Sorry guys, I have bought a V30 and need to update my comment here.
        Now, before you jump down my throat, let me say 2 things.
        1. Given a chance to buy one of two identical phones with the only difference being removable and non-removable battery, I would unhesitatingly buy the removable battery phone, even at a higher price.
        2. I still think this article is asinine and commercially motivated.

        Why did I buy the V30 then?
        1. I was bored having the same phone for 15 months.
        2. I had money to burn, so I could try out the V30 and if I didn't like it I could throw it away and go back to my V20.

        Not regretted it though. I bought it in India, online, before I got there and started using it right after I got out of the airport. (I got my nephew to bring me the box at the airport.)
        Four days later I took a trip to Thailand with family. As you know, phones get used lots more during travel and have to go through lots of low-signal areas. That's why we carry power banks and spare batteries. The V30 shone in such conditions. The only thing better than a removable battery phone is a phone whose battery runs on and on. I got easily 20 hours out of it, with 17 hours more showing on the battery usage prediction. I have several such screenshots which I took simply because I was so thrilled with it.
        I can't tell you how liberating it is to not have to carry batteries and power banks and still be confident in using and overusing your phone.
        Now, I have had the phone for 2 months and there have been two days when I have re-charged it during the day. One day I had to spend 4-5 hours in an extremely low-signal area (almost zero bars the whole time indoors). Second time, I left the camera on and screen on by mistake for about 2 hours or so.
        Both times battery didn't run out, but was low enough that I gave it to boost as I was expecting long days.
        For power back up, I have a tiny battery pack shaped like a cylinder, 3300mah, it plugs right into the bottom of the phone and you can use the phone at the same time. That's all I carry and that too only because I have nomophobia.
        Don't have to recharge every day now. I can leave it simply off charger over night and charge it on the wireless charger in the office next day. No sweat.
        Have had to come to terms with the battery status in a new way. Now 30% is not a cause for concern as it would probably run for 7-8 more at least.
        While having not regretted it, I would still prefer to go for removable battery over waterproofing. I don't give a hoot about waterproofing. It's useless. Normal phone works fine in rain, and current waterproofing will probably fail in a puddle and sea water. When it comes to dropping phones in toilet, just don't do it. If I dropped my phone in the toilet no matter how waterproof it is, I will bin it and get a new one. I won't touch that thing to my face ever.
        One concern is that battery performance will degrade after about one year. It doesn't matter to me as I would be looking to get a new phone anyway by then but it is a real concern for sure.
        A weird change was the battery cover. I use a magnetic phone holder in the car and I used to put the metal plate inside the battery cover instead of sticking to the back of my V20. Now, with V30, no battery cover to open. So I had to find an artistic solution for it.
        Went out to a train station with my DSLR and my guitar. Took a posed picture of the guitar with the tracks, printed it on a sticker, pasted that on the metal plate, stuck the metal plate to a transparent Spigen case and put the case on the phone. Job done.
        With the plate on, the wireless charging doesn't work. So, I use another case, same Spigen case but no plate, for all those times when I am not driving. Or without the case though I worry then as it's a smooth phone and very slim. Looks amazing with or without the case.

        That's my real experience, folks, love the phone, love the new features, would be better if it had removable battery but for now I have given my V20 away.

        Peace.

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