Nov 15 AT 12:03 PM Nick Gray 19 Comments

Building the perfect Nexus: battery


As we dive deeper into our  series today, we’ll be taking a look at batteries. When comparing specs between phones, batteries are typically the last item to make the list, but that’s simply because there’s nothing sexy about electrochemical cells that convert chemical energy into usable electrical energy. But when it comes to order of importance, batteries should be at the top of the list for those who really care about smartphone specs.

As smartphone screens increased in size over the past few years, so have batteries. Unfortunately, higher capacity batteries haven’t really extended the life of our smartphone, because those larger displays consumer more power and new processors still have a long way to go to improve efficiency. There are a few handsets like the Droid MAXX, Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and the LG G2 with massive batteries that can last up to two full days, but these devices are still uncommon.

Increased capacity isn’t the only pain point when it comes to batteries. Over the past few years, the industry has started moving toward integrated batteries that can’t be swapped out. Built-in batteries allow manufacturers to rearrange the internal structure of their devices, reducing thickness and weight. While this change may appeal to those who want extremely slim phones, it can reduce the lifespan of a smartphone, because most rechargeable batteries lose a quarter to half of their charge capacity within two years. Consumers who own devices with removable batteries have the option to buy a replacement and make the swap themselves while those who own devices with built-in batteries either have to send the phone into the manufacturer for an expensive battery replacement or live with a phone that charges less and less with each passing month.

Swappable batteries also give power users the ability to carry a secondary battery, which can be swapped out on the go. There is certainly a benefit here, but I’m personally a fan of external battery packs that can be used to charge multiple devices on a single charge.

As with Wednesday’s post, we have two questions we’d like you to weigh in on today:

What’s your take on the current battery trends being adopted by the different manufacturers?

Nick is a tech enthusiast who has a soft spot for HTC and its devices. Nick joined the Android and Me family in the summer of 2010.

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  • SGB101

    Size of the battery is all relative to the phones thirst. So it should be as big as it needs to be. But it should be easily replaceable, as all the batteries suffer at around6 months and start to diminish.

    The note2 could last two working days new, for a power user 1 stress free day, but 11 on I had to replace mine as I was no longer getting a stress free day.

    A smartphone is not a smart phone if you have to have everything off to make a 7am to 3am Friday, it’s just a expensive dumb phone.

  • sdny8

    I’m so sick of the slim is better iPhone philosophy. I have a g2 and could never look back. I like motos maxx idea. I think every flagship device should have a similar model.

  • jamal adam

    I definitely feel that a Nexus with a battery capacity in the 3,000mAh+ range would be AMAZING.

  • KR

    The second voting option is relative to the device demands.

    I wouldn’t argue with a bigger battery in a reasonable form factor, but if we’re expecting Nexus devices to remain cheap, off-contract, we can’t expect it all. The Moto X is a fine example of a device which better utilizes its battery, while the Maxx pairs both approaches, without making the device unnecessarily big.

    Motorola has the formula for success and should build the next Nexus device.

    • mvndaai

      I love my Moto X, and I have heard great things about the Maxx’s batter, but Motorola can’t make a Nexus for a few years. The other companies will thing Google is playing favorites with thier own company which would make Android look bad.

      • SGB101

        I picked up the X’s little Bro yesterday, it’s a fantastic device, without even considering it’s very small price tag.

        The small 2070mah battery seems good, it had a good beating yesterday and lasted till after pub o’clock, will do a better test next week.

    • Robsw

      I sold my Nexus 5 and went back to my Moto X Dev Ed primarily because of the atrocious battery life I was getting. I also missed active notifications, the voice controls and the form factor.

  • Janson

    Agree with KR. I want one FULL day of battery power – how I get that, with more battery power or a lower power use – I have no idea. Actually, I’d prefer to get a full day on 100 mah than on 3000. Lighter phone.

  • Jimmy_Jo

    The battery should last all day but it only needs to work at top level for 12-18 months. The nexus is a developer phone. It should work til the next version and by revision 2 it’s time for a new device.

  • Eric

    In very cold weather, phone batteries have a fraction of their capacity when warm. When skiing on the mountain, it is extremely useful to be able to swap in a fresh battery.

  • donger

    Would be nice to have an extra battery pack.

  • JC

    On weekends, when I am away from my desk, I use a big battery (5200 mah) with my Samsung GS4. The phone is heavier and thicker, but it lasts 2 days with all radios on and a bright screen. On Mondays, when I have access to my charger, I switch back to the 2600 mah one.

  • rashad360

    More manufacturers should put battery life as a priority over super-slim frames. At the end of the day all that matters is that my phone makes it to the end of the day. I’m not stressing over how thing an attractive it is all the time, I just want to send texts and emails!

    Having a removable battery is also a great plus for a phone, so I like seeing an industry leader like Samsung cling onto that philosophy.

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  • honourbound68

    i’ve had to carry 2 spare batteries for my GN and always have portable usb powerpacks. i think larger capacity REMOVABLE batteries should be standard for all phones. having had to live through sandy, i can tell you that if I didn’t have my spares and portable powerpacks, things would have been much worse. my next phone WILL have a removable large capacity battery.

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  • E-man

    I have the Galaxy Nexus with three extra batteries. I had four extra ones, but most one. With really heavy use, all four don’t last me from early morning until about 1 am.

  • Peter @ PowerPax

    I agree with donger, having another battery pack would be incredibly nice, since my phone sucks up all it’s battery within a hour of talking on the phone.

  • Vance

    I think you should change these poll questions to read “do you prefer a removable battery”, not “does it affect your purchasing decision”. The reason being that having a removable battery DOES affect my purchasing decision, but if I answered it that way on your poll, the assumption would be that I want a removable battery. I do not. Therefore my decision is affected by whether or not there is a removable battery, but for me it’s in the opposite direction as I prefer a phone without a removable battery. You can’t get accurate, meaningful results with that poll syntax.