Your guide to buying a mobile phone with a removable battery

Mobile phones that include removable batteries are few and far between these days. Here's what you need to know if you're keen on battery swapping phones.

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Important notice

  • Phones with replaceable batteries are extremely uncommon in Australia.
  • If you want a replaceable battery on a phone, you need to look at budget devices.
At one point, pretty much every single mobile phone had a removable battery. That was back in the days when Snake was a cutting edge game, and we all got by with text entry on number pads, however.

The emergence and explosive growth of smartphones changed all of that. Apple was the most obvious and early proponent of sealed batteries in phones, with every single Apple iPhone having the battery sealed within.

Makers of Android phones were slower to adopt the trend of sealing in their batteries. If you were a fan of Samsung's Galaxy phones for example, up until the Galaxy S5 all you had to do was pop off the rear cover and you could change out the battery at will.

Newer Galaxy models, and indeed most other Android phones have now switched over to sealed batteries. In some cases that's to enable features such as water resistance, but for the most part, it's simply a matter of making them cheaper to build and less prone to wear and tear from consumers taking the battery in or out.

Why aren't all phone batteries replaceable?

The most prominent reason why manufacturers make sealed battery phones is that it allows them more room to specifically style the phone. When you're making a device that's meant to live comfortably in a pocket or purse, every millimetre counts.

Adding the ability to remove a battery means you've got to have the compartment for it to easily slide in and out, as well as contacts that can handle the friction of thousands of removal cycles. A sealed battery can have contacts fused in place with little fuss and much less overall needed space.

There's also a safety consideration at play here. If you can swap out a battery, you might do so with a third party battery of dubious provenance. That could lead to electrical faults within the phone that could damage it, or in certain cases you. Neither is a desirable situation to be faced with.

Removable battery phone options?

You do have some options if you're dead set keen on having a phone that allows you to swap the battery in and out at will, but it's absolutely at the simplest end of the market. Entry level phones such as the Nokia 8810 4G do still come with a removable and replaceable battery. It's not uncommon in the "feature" phone market to still see removable batteries, but you'd be hard pressed to find a smartphone with one, even if it has a removable and replaceable back plate.

Can I put any battery in my smartphone?

Aside from the obvious questions of a suitable fit, it's well worthwhile ensuring that if your phone does support a removable battery that your replacement properly matches your exact phone model. This is true whether you're using it to extend daily battery life or as a full scale replacement for an older battery that just won't hold a charge any more.

Ideally you should opt for a genuine replacement battery rather than a third party model. While third party batteries will be cheaper, as a consumer you have no real facility to assess the quality of a third party battery, and may encounter significant issues with warranty repair or replacement, especially if a battery mishap causes actual damage to your phone.

My phone doesn't have a removable battery. What options do I have?

If you're using a phone that doesn't have a removable battery and you're finding it hard to get through the day without your phone battery conking out, you do have some options open to you.

The simplest and cheapest (where practical) approach is to ensure that you've got a charger with you at all times and can leave your phone on charge when you're not using it.

You could even get fancy if your phone supports wireless charging and leave a wireless charger on your desk or bedside, so that you don't even have to plug it in.

What if I think my phone battery is faulty?

If your phone simply won't hold a charge like it used to, it's well worth contacting your phone's manufacturer to see if they offer a battery replacement service.

Within a reasonable timeframe this should be a free service under Australian consumer law. There's no specified timeframe for that kind of thing, because goods have to be "fit for purpose" and battery failure should count against that. For any phone older than 12 months you may find that they request payment from you for this kind of service.

Check out our review of the nostalgia-laden Nokia 8810 4G - complete with removable battery!


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32 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    maaenApril 10, 2017

    Is there a possibility for governments of the world to demand ALL manufacturers to make phones with removable batteries so that the consumer has a choice as to when to retire their mobile phone ?
    I cannot understand how most of humanity remains silent whilst these manufacturers carry on with selling phones with sealed up backs and then just accept their lot as they go about buying new phones because they seemingly have no options left….what about the second hand market dying a death because not many people would buy phones with sealed up backs and glued-in and nearly dead batteries?
    I would love a well considered answer and a possible ground swell of a revolt from sensible folks around the world to change this amazingly stupid situation….of embedded imprisoned batteries.

      Default Gravatar
      ArnoldApril 26, 2017

      Hi Maaen,

      Thanks for your inquiry.

      Unfortunately, we don’t have much choice regarding this matter. The manufacturers decide what they put on the mobile phones, this includes irremovable batteries. You have valid points but sadly we don’t have control over these things.

      Hope this information helped.

      Cheers,
      Arnold

    Default Gravatar
    DeadhoundNovember 12, 2015

    Is there any environmental difference between removable and non-removable batteries?

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      AlexDecember 1, 2015Staff

      Hi,

      From an environmental perspective it will depend on a few factors, most notably what you do with the device and battery when you’re done with it. The batteries themselves tend to be the same in terms of chemistry, but how you recycle them will have the most significant impact.

      Regards,

      Alex.

    Default Gravatar
    motorolaOctober 22, 2015

    do any motorola phones have removable batteries

      Default Gravatar
      BrodieOctober 22, 2015

      Hi there,

      Only a few select phones out Motorola’s current line have a removable battery. For example, the Moto X Style has a removable battery but the Moto X Play does not.

      Hope that helps,

      Brodie

    Default Gravatar
    rounitroyOctober 4, 2015

    I want to buy a phone under 10k,which one will be good, is Asus Zenfone 2 Laser ZE500KL good to buy?please suggest..

      Default Gravatar
      BrodieOctober 7, 2015

      Hi there!

      The Asus Zenfone 2 Laser is a good phone. However, as you’ve landed on this page, I assume you’re looking for a handset with a removable battery, which the Zenfone 2 Laser does not have. If you’re looking for a handset with a removable battery, we’d recommend something like an LG G4 or Samsung Galaxy S5.

      Thanks,

      Brodie

    Default Gravatar
    RajMay 16, 2015

    I wanna buy a 15k to 20k phone…
    And I am confused between xperia t2 ultra and xperia z ultra…
    Please suggest me..
    Or let me know any other good smartphone in this range.

      Default Gravatar
      BrodieMay 18, 2015

      Hi Raj,

      The Xperia T2 Ultra is the more recent phone and offers a few upgrades like a 13 MP camera (as opposed to an 8MP camera) and a bigger battery.

      Hope this helps,

      Brodie

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