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How To Buy and Test a Third-Party Battery for Android Phones

By Ryan Whitwam

Keep your phone powered up.

Android is designed in such a way that users that really want to go out of their way, can customize a device eight ways from Sunday. it can be easy to go a little overboard and end up with a ton of services pining the data network or the GPS. While useful, this is a major drain on battery life. If you want to keep your phone chugging along, but don’t want to make sacrifices, it could be time for a third-party battery.

There are a few things to look for no matter if you’re replacing your battery altogether, or just getting a second as a spare. Read on to stay powered up.

What to look for in a battery

In every scenario, you need to know your phone model, and that may be different from the name your carrier gives it. For example, accessories for the T-Mobile G2 were often listed as being for the HTC Vision/Desire Z. This was how the device was known internationally. Similarly, some retailers organize batteries based on an OEM model.

The next order of business is to sort out what type of battery you need. If all that is required is a replacement for the current cell, there shouldn’t be an issue. These are usually the first items to pop up when a phone is released. Just check the specs for your device and note the mAh rating of the battery. Don’t buy a replacement that is smaller than that. Some OEMs reuse the same form factor for batteries, so a replacement might work in your phone (and be listed as such), but it is a much smaller capacity.

If you are looking for a larger power pack, there are two ways to go. You can get a slim extended battery for most phones that adds a little capacity in the same form factor as the original battery. These usually take longer to appear for each device as the engineering that goes into them is more complicated. Most of the slim extended packs we’ve seen add 15-20% capacity.

The other way to go is to search for the big kahuna, an extended battery that is larger physically than the original. These may add twice as much capacity to the phone, but will require a replacement back plate to accommodate the size. Make sure that if you buy one of these that it comes with the new back.

Buying your battery

So you’ve decided on the route you’d like to take, but you have to choose a vendor and brand. Not all batteries are created equal, and this is a surprisingly big decision. The Lithium-Ion batteries used in phones are running electrochemical reactions in your pocket, and a ruptured cell could be a big problem.

Buying a random battery you find in a Google search is probably a bad idea. In addition to the possibility of failure, these batteries may not live up to the stated mAh rating. Your best bet is to buy a reputable brand, even though the price might be a bit higher. We have used both Mugen Power and Seidio batteries.

Both these brands perform extremely well, and are usually available quickly after a device debuts. Mugen products usually ship from Hing Kong, which can mean a longer wait on delivery. Seidio has a US presence and the site is much more user-friendly.

Testing a new battery

Okay, so you’ve got your new battery. Time to test it out; just pop it in and plug in the power for a few minutes. Did the phone explode? If not, you’re off to a smashing start. Let the phone charge up all the way, and let it charge a few hours past that. This is not done for the benefit of the battery itself, but to make sure the system reads the maximum capacity as 100% full. If there are no visible issues, like bulging or leaking from the contacts, you’re ready to proceed.

Ideally, you want to drop the original battery in and take note of your usage pattern and the battery level at various times of day. On Gingerbread or later, there is a solid built in tool for monitoring your battery usage. Under About Phone in the settings is Battery Use. Here users will find a chart of battery level over time, as well as a list of apps that are using the battery. For a more detailed view of battery usage over time, apps like JuicePlotter or Battery Graph can be used.

On day two, switch to the new, and fully charged battery and do the same checks on battery level over time. Take into account the difference in mAh ratings if you’ve gone with a larger battery. If your usage from one day to the next is fairly consistent, your new battery should preform as well as the old one. If not, try to figure out why.

Since Android phones let you swap out the battery, a third-party cell is a great investment. if you’re going to be out and about for an entire day and suspect you’ll be using your phone a lot, that spare battery in your pocket is a real comfort. It’s more than a convenience issue, it about personal safety. Your phone is a lifeline, and it;s not worth anything with no juice. One last thing, resist the urge to keep a spare battery in your car. The extreme temperatures can cause the cells to become unstable.

Do you have a spare, or a larger capacity battery for your phone? How does it perform for you?