Author Topic: Why do so many electric devices now have no user-replaceable battery compartment  (Read 7583 times)

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Offline engineheat

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Back in the days of Walkmans and cordless phones, many electric gadgets have compartments for AA or AAA batteries. Users can even use rechargeables. Life of the device is not tied to the battery. Nowadays, many devices are embedded Li-ion (Macs?). Do consumers really prefer that? I understand it's easy to charge a device by just plugging a USB, but that's fine for something like a phone where it'll be obsolete in a few years and needs frequent charging. But still, lots of devices can last much longer than that and don't get obsolete. Furthermore, it's nice to be able to swap in a fresh battery when you need it rather than wait for it to finish charging.

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Online xrunner

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I have an iPhone and an iPad, both have no user accessibility to the batteries. Now, I have replaced the battery on several of my iPhones, not too hard but the average unskilled person might not be able to do it. The iPad ... ridiculous to get to the battery, but I could do it if I wanted to. The average person wouldn't even try.

Why do they do this? I don't know if it's the sheer amount of energy the battery has stored which they might think is dangerous, or it's that they want money for repairs.

I'll let others chime in on that.  :popcorn:

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Offline Nusa

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You can still find devices with replaceable battery packs, just not from Apple. Their model for "need it now" is the external battery pack. The last apple product I owned was the apple II, so that hasn't been much of a problem for me.

Uninstalled lithium batteries can be a travel problem at airports. The FAA doesn't allow them in checked bags at all, and are limited in quantity in carryon bags. Airline policies may be even more restrictive than that.
 

Online brucehoult

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The reason I replaced my first four mobile phones (one each from Nokia, Ericsson, Siemens, and Vodafone(Sharp)  was that after two or three years the battery connection became unreliable. I've never made or received a lot of phone calls -- a couple a week maybe -- and in the days before internet-connected smartphones there was no reason to take the phone out of your pocket unless it rang or you wanted to make a call yourself. Batteries only needed recharging once in a week or ten days (the same applies to iPhones, by the way, if you leave them in your pocket and don't constantly use them).

I'd get a new phone and all would be well for a couple of years. And then people would start to complain that they couldn't call me. I'd take the phone out of my pocket and discover that it was off.  I'd turn it on and .. hey .. nearly full battery. Back in the pocket and a day later notice that it had turned itself off again.

I tried cleaning contacts, bending contacts, wedging something to make the battery press tighter, a new battery pack. Once the problem started, nothing except a new phone would cure it.

Then in late 2007 I got an iPhone with soldered in battery and I've never had that problem again. MUCH MUCH BETTER.

Of course after five years or whatever the battery gets tired and needs replacing. And Apple sells replacement batteries and the price includes opening the device, unsoldering the old battery, and soldering in the new one.

At least in the case of laptops, replacing the soldered-in batteries in the unibody machines is the same price as simply buying a new battery for the older machines with user-replaceable batteries. The labour to do it is "free". In fact it probably costs them less to make the internal batteries anyway.
 
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Offline amyk

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Two words: planned obolescence.

Sometimes it's hand-waved away with an excuse. One example of this is electric toothbrushes "need to be waterproof", but that's no reason to make them completely unserviceable --- plenty of other devices, like torches, can be waterproof while also having replaceable batteries. In fact I haven't come across one that's threaded together like a torch, despite that being the obvious way to design one for ease of service. (And likewise, I'm surprised that no one seems to have thought of making an electric toothbrush head that can be interchanged with a torch head...)

In the case of Apple's phones, the excuse has been that they wouldn't be as thin, or that a phone with a metal casing can't have a replaceable battery; the Chinese proved them wrong.

 

Offline phliar

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Putting in a compartment adds to the cost and (more importantly) volume. You can make a much smaller device if you can seal in a Li cell of some weird shape.
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Offline Richard Crowley

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I hate non-accessible batteries also.  However two of their arguments hold SOME water..

1.  Devices are so thin these days, there are no generic cells or batteries that will fit them anymore. Note that cell phones with removable/replaceable batteries each have their own proprietary battery not interchangeable with any other brand (or even model)

2.  It is more "green" to force users to keep recharging the internal battery instead of offering the opportunity for them to use one-time primary (non-rechargeable) cells which then go into the landfill.

I'm not saying that I like either of these arguments.  Especially for professional video and audio production gear, I don't want to be stuck somewhere with no charged batteries left in an expensive situation.  I want the ability to use AA or C or D cells in a critical situation.
 

Offline nelsonm

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I'd also consider that products with soft cell Li-ion batteries pose a potential safety risk if punctured or damaged, so by locking them away from our grubby little fingers they're protecting both their proverbial and literal assets.
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Offline Ampera

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I actually have a severe dislike for standard cell batteries. For anything with any real power, you blow half your money on either a completely unreasonable amount of cells, or buy expensive rechargable batteries that barely last.

However, I don't see the problem here. Every battery is replaceable, even if it says it's not. It's just a matter of reverse construction utilizing percussive maintenance.

I do like the idea of replaceable electric car batteries, so you can just have a charging dock where you can throw batteries, and have a few sets on tap for whenever you need it.

To be honest, all batteries suck. I'm excited for the day when decent batteries are a thing.
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Offline Naguissa

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Probably, to force usual people.to pay more. If battery die they are forced to buy a new device o pay Customer Service. I mean people that don't understand electronics and don't want to try doing it themselves.

In the other hand, the mobile I'm writing on just now is 3.5 years old and its user replaceable battery is not in best condition but lasts a day, just fine. It may last almost two days when new, but still fine after this time.

So, I mean that it's possible to dessign a battery that lasts device practical life in most of user cases.

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Offline MarkS

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Planned obsolescence and increased profits.

If I build a widget and make it repairable, then I only make money on the sale of the widget. However, if I design it in such a way that you are forced to use services I provide for repairs, at a much higher markup, then I not only make money on the original sale, but all repairs. Add to that multiple upgraded versions within the life of the widget, all of which are slightly more than the repairs and I have you and your pocketbook by the balls.
 

Offline Rerouter

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I would say cost reduction, size and weight reduction and a large increase in warranty lifetime reliability.

To have a removable battery it needs to be in its own housing that has to be strong enough that the average person cannot bend it in there pocket and have it internally short out (shots fired :p) equally there generally needs to be a recessed connector so that even thrown in a pocket with keys its unlikely to be shorted. both of these add to costs and weight, though they do make failures from the cell less eruptive as the shell the cell is in can better contain the energy of a violent short.

Next up is reliability, look at a beginners project on a breadboard to a more experienced designer, they will migrate to short to mid term reliability, and only go to long term when it doesnt cost them extra in time or money, Battery contacts are a failure mode, and the spring contacts once dirty or bent are generally very hard to repair as they are at the end of a thin long battery compartment.

A battery compartment unless properly sealed is also a direct route for water to reach the battery terminals should it be left out in the rain, or dropped in water. this is also partly where some of the wireless charging technologies came in to play, as its much easier to fully seal a device from water if you have no openings. I personally have lost 2 waterproof cameras to a salt grain that collected along the edge of the gasket. despite being cleaned very well before and after dives. eventually some piece of crud collects and the outside world gets in.

Now a non removable battery is different from a non serviceable battery, this is where i call cost cutting gone mad. So far the 2 handheld tools i have built used a usb charging lipo for cost and simplicity, mounted inside an alu extrusion with screwed on covers. now that battery cannot be easily replaced without tools, but it can be serviced, with the cover removed you can access it and replace it. and it uses commonly available tools, and the battery connects via a short flylead and connector

Many GPS's follow a similar structure, you pop some phillips screws and there is a lipo with a connector.

Phones however are hard for this method, as now the screens are seamless to the bezel meaning you more or less forced to make all access through the back, while keeping the phone mechanically strong. samsung did this well on the SG5, where the cover and gasket clip on in a really thin way, and the gasket the part that wears is on the removable part, but if you where swapping batteries each day, it would not last long, i would assume the plastic clips would be only good for a few thousand cycles at most.
 

Offline wraper

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I'd turn it on and .. hey .. nearly full battery. Back in the pocket and a day later notice that it had turned itself off again.

I tried cleaning contacts, bending contacts, wedging something to make the battery press tighter, a new battery pack. Once the problem started, nothing except a new phone would cure it.
Magic rubber foam pad from Nokia. But to be frank connector itself was crap, pad completely cured it in maybe half of all cases.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2017, 10:28:06 am by wraper »
 

Offline CJay

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I hate non-accessible batteries also.  However two of their arguments hold SOME water..

1.  Devices are so thin these days, there are no generic cells or batteries that will fit them anymore. Note that cell phones with removable/replaceable batteries each have their own proprietary battery not interchangeable with any other brand (or even model)

2.  It is more "green" to force users to keep recharging the internal battery instead of offering the opportunity for them to use one-time primary (non-rechargeable) cells which then go into the landfill.

I'm not saying that I like either of these arguments.  Especially for professional video and audio production gear, I don't want to be stuck somewhere with no charged batteries left in an expensive situation.  I want the ability to use AA or C or D cells in a critical situation.

Well, sort of, I can see those arguments but in the case of a laptop or phone they're pretty much all proprietary batteries/cells so there won't be primary cell generics anyway, making a battery user replaceable opens a new revenue stream from replacement cells too, it smells more like planned obsolescence to me.

Using generics like AA, C or D cells makes sense but makes for bulky kit, it's useful when there may be no way to charge a custom pack as you say.
 

Offline Lord of nothing

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In the past a Nokia Akku (not a Battery) was available everywhere!  :-+
Cellphone Shops resell good Chinese Brands who even work better than the original.
Buy a Phone with an non removable Akku is just insane in my Eyes.
Made in Japan, destroyed in Sulz im Wienerwald.
 

Offline wraper

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Cellphone Shops resell good Chinese Brands who even work better than the original.
Better?  :-DD. 90% of the compatible batteries were complete crap. Often bulging just after a few weeks. And most of them had half to two thirds of original battery capacity. I mean real capacity, not BS that was written on them. Remaining OKayish batteries were not any better than original ones either. Of course there was a way to increase capacity as some idiots put a thicker battery and then battery cover looked egg shaped with huge gaps underneath.
 

Online mariush

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In some cases, by removing the battery lid (cover) and making the battery internal there are some benefits

You may get slightly higher capacity battery because the space that was previously used for springs (battery contacts) or plastic walls to prevent leakage from alkaline batteries from attacking the boards can now be used for larger battery (or they could use  flatter and thinner batteries)
By using lipo or other styles of batteries, they can do lightweight products compared to AA or AAA batteries that are heavier (and have metal case)
They may be able to do a cheaper plastic mold or they may be able to do cheaper aluminum (or zinc or whatever is used for lightweight cases)  back covers which in turn would help with heat dissipation and may add rigidity to the product (for example in case of laptops)
By not having battery compartments, they may not have to worry about humidity and water ingress through the battery compartment (and they don't have to use rubber seals or use conformal coating or put sealant around battery compartment)
 

Offline Dubbie

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I don't know why everyone says that planned obsolescence is the reason. It is clearly physically impossible to design a top tier phone incorporating a user openable battery compartment without making it thicker or reducing battery life. If people really wanted replaceable batteries then there would be more phones with them. People just don't want the trade offs. Regarding obsolescence, there are plenty of other ways a phone goes obsolete without deliberately sabotaging the battery in a phone design. Pointing to some grand conspiracy here is unnecessary.
 
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Offline tablatronix

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I imagine soon the batteries will be laminated into devices enclosures as films, apple is already using custom shaped batteries in the air laptops, there is no way that could be servicable
 

Offline CJay

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I don't know why everyone says that planned obsolescence is the reason. It is clearly physically impossible to design a top tier phone incorporating a user openable battery compartment without making it thicker or reducing battery life. If people really wanted replaceable batteries then there would be more phones with them. People just don't want the trade offs. Regarding obsolescence, there are plenty of other ways a phone goes obsolete without deliberately sabotaging the battery in a phone design. Pointing to some grand conspiracy here is unnecessary.

There's not a grand conspiracy but you'd have to be a very stupid company to not have designed in battery life in any product where the battery is sealed in.

That it's not user replaceable (HTC One perhaps where the case has to be broken to replace the battery) means you've planned device lifespan and thus obsolescence.

It's not a conspiracy theory, it's industrial design.


Oh, and Samsung S5, thinner than any iPhone I've had my hands on, yet it has an openable waterproof battery compartment and a user replaceable battery, so it's not 'clearly physically impossible' to do and that phone has the best battery life of any smartphone I've used to date.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2017, 08:36:53 am by CJay »
 

Offline Lord of nothing

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Thats we often sayed here.
The with an bad akku the company can reduce the life time to the min warranty time in many (eu) country 2 Years.
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Online tooki

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I don't believe in conspiracies, so I dismiss the whole "planned obsolescence" and customer lock-in arguments.

Here are some rational reasons for moving to built-in batteries:
  • Most customers never replaced removable batteries anyway. Long before smartphones were even remotely popular, most people replaced their phones after only 18 months on average. At that age, very few batteries have failed.
  • Size. People like thin. Removable batteries require both the added volume of a battery compartment, as well as the added volume of the shell of the battery needed for safety.
  • Safety. In popular phones with removable batteries (like many Samsung models until recently), battery counterfeiting is rampant. But with Li-Ion/LiPo/etc batteries being so sensitive, those fake batteries can be dangerous. Using internal batteries significantly reduces the chances of a user receiving a counterfeit battery. (Note that I'm not referring to quality aftermarket batteries, but actual fake "original" ones sold to people who believe they are buying the real thing. A normal user has no way to detect a potentially deadly counterfeit battery.


In the past a Nokia Akku (not a Battery) was available everywhere!  :-+
Cellphone Shops resell good Chinese Brands who even work better than the original.
Buy a Phone with an non removable Akku is just insane in my Eyes.
In English, we do not use the word "akku". (We used to use "accumulator", but that is absolutely archaic.) It's a rechargeable battery. In common usage, we also call individual cells "batteries", though that is technically incorrect.
 

Offline amyk

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In the past a Nokia Akku (not a Battery) was available everywhere!  :-+
Cellphone Shops resell good Chinese Brands who even work better than the original.
Buy a Phone with an non removable Akku is just insane in my Eyes.
In English, we do not use the word "akku". (We used to use "accumulator", but that is absolutely archaic.) It's a rechargeable battery. In common usage, we also call individual cells "batteries", though that is technically incorrect.
I've noticed that using "akku", "accumulator", or similar terminology is a strong sign that the author is European, and this is no exception. :)
 

Online blueskull

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I've noticed that using "akku", "accumulator", or similar terminology is a strong sign that the author is European, and this is no exception. :)

And condenser for capacitor, still being widely used in Japan, though outdated in the English world.
 

Offline timb

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I imagine soon the batteries will be laminated into devices enclosures as films, apple is already using custom shaped batteries in the air laptops, there is no way that could be servicable
I don't know why everyone says that planned obsolescence is the reason. It is clearly physically impossible to design a top tier phone incorporating a user openable battery compartment without making it thicker or reducing battery life. If people really wanted replaceable batteries then there would be more phones with them. People just don't want the trade offs. Regarding obsolescence, there are plenty of other ways a phone goes obsolete without deliberately sabotaging the battery in a phone design. Pointing to some grand conspiracy here is unnecessary.

Both of these are pretty much spot on. Essentially, a user replaceable battery has about 25% less capacity than one that's integrated into the product. That's because you need to have a molded case and contacts for the battery, plus a reinforced structure for it to mate with in the product. That extra space could be used for more battery!

In fact, on laptops that use external packs containing 18650 cells, that number increases from 25% to as much as 50%!

Apple used to have battery compartments on all their laptops, but changed to custom internal LiPo cells about 6 or 7 years ago. In most cases they're still easy to replace. You simple remove a few screws on the bottom, pop the cover off, unplug the battery, remove a few more screws and it'll pop right out. There are a number of companies that sell aftermarket replacements. Alternatively, Apple will replace it for you for a flat $100 (including service and the battery).

As for phones, that's all about using custom molded LiPo pouches to get the maximum capacity in the smallest package. It's that simple. There's no big conspiracy.
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Online blueskull

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Apple used to have battery compartments on all their laptops, but changed to custom internal LiPo cells about 6 or 7 years ago. In most cases they're still easy to replace. You simple remove a few screws on the bottom, pop the cover off, unplug the battery, remove a few more screws and it'll pop right out.

Until they learned the evil way and use extra strength glue to mount the batteries. Louis has a video which he accidentally broke the battery and set it on fire.
Unfortunately this trend is also on PC market after Intel made its ultrabook specification, which includes a mandatory internal battery.
So now some Thinkpad laptops have 2 sets of batteries, internal and replaceable, which seems to be stupid and just for the ultrabook compliance.
The first thing I removed my new laptop's battery was to touch the adhesive and cover it with finger oil and make sure the next time it will come off more easily.
 

Offline ejeffrey

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I am not a big fan of the "thinner at any cost" trend in cell phones, but a user replaceable battery is about the least important factor to me.  I carry my phone in my pocket and use it extensively every day.  If you can remove a battery compartment I am not going to open for 2 years and make it better in any measurable way -- smaller, lighter, more rugged, better ingress protection, longer battery, more features, or really anything, that is absolutely what I want.  Cell phone designs are *insanely* constrained.  Manufacturers didn't switch from micro to nano SIM cards for their health.  They did it because that tiny sliver of plastic was wasting space that they could use for features their customers cared about.

Yes, it does generate extra waste.  But take a look at how much trash you put out on the curb every week. Now think what fraction a 150 gram phone adds to that, even if you replaced it every year.  Electronic waste is more hazardous than most household waste, and arguably generates more manufacturing waste than other products, but there is no way that my phone is a material part of the waste I generate directly or indirectly.  And when you look at the utility I get from a smartphone, it is about the last place to look to reduce environmental impact.  Other people's priorities may be different and that is fine, but I think my experience here is pretty typical of flagship / premium smartphone customers.  Last I checked there are still plenty of low end phones with replaceable batteries.

For other products the calculus changes somewhat.  Laptops are bigger, I use them less, they stay current longer, and their design constraints are tight but not as brutal as phones.  I find non-replacable batteries in laptops annoying, but I still understand the reasoning.  By eliminating the battery bay, you make the chassis stiffer and stronger for the same weight, you save weight and space, and you have more design freedom in placing the battery.  In most cases, laptop batteries can be replaced at a service center.  Its expensive compared to buying an off brand battery from amazon and swapping it yourself, but it is still quite a bit cheaper than a new laptop.  To me, this is a totally reasonable compromise.
 

Offline AndrewM

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Until they learned the evil way and use extra strength glue to mount the batteries. Louis has a video which he accidentally broke the battery and set it on fire.
Unfortunately this trend is also on PC market after Intel made its ultrabook specification, which includes a mandatory internal battery.
So now some Thinkpad laptops have 2 sets of batteries, internal and replaceable, which seems to be stupid and just for the ultrabook compliance.
The first thing I removed my new laptop's battery was to touch the adhesive and cover it with finger oil and make sure the next time it will come off more easily.

You may be interested to know for Apple stuff, ifixit (and probably some others) are now selling solvents for the glue that holds the battery to the case.
 

Offline CJay

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I don't believe in conspiracies, so I dismiss the whole "planned obsolescence" and customer lock-in arguments.

Here are some rational reasons for moving to built-in batteries:
  • Most customers never replaced removable batteries anyway. Long before smartphones were even remotely popular, most people replaced their phones after only 18 months on average. At that age, very few batteries have failed.
I may have been unusual but I had spare batteries for my Nokias, all the way up to and including 8310.
I had and carried spare batteries for Smartphones up to and including my HTC Desire.

The Samsung I don't have a spare battery for becuse i carry a LiIon pack because I also have a Google Pixel that has no user replaceable battery.

I would much rather have a replaceable battery for both.

I carried a spare because until recently my line of work often made it difficult to plug in and charge on some sites, but even when not at work a slim spare battery is far more convenient than a lump of a LiIon charger and cable.
  • Size. People like thin. Removable batteries require both the added volume of a battery compartment, as well as the added volume of the shell of the battery needed for safety.
Invalid argument.

Samsung S5, 8.1mm thick, removeable battery.

Google Pixel, 8.6mm thick, non removeable battery.

  • Safety. In popular phones with removable batteries (like many Samsung models until recently), battery counterfeiting is rampant. But with Li-Ion/LiPo/etc batteries being so sensitive, those fake batteries can be dangerous. Using internal batteries significantly reduces the chances of a user receiving a counterfeit battery. (Note that I'm not referring to quality aftermarket batteries, but actual fake "original" ones sold to people who believe they are buying the real thing. A normal user has no way to detect a potentially deadly counterfeit battery.
people will buy fakes because people are incessant bargain hunters and most believe cheaper is better, regardless of the value, they're idiots.

The counterfeit argument is vaguely valid but even having a non user replaceable battery doesn't stop it happening, there are myriad counterfeit iPhone, iPad, Samsung Tab, Lenovo etc. etc. batteries for 'non user replaceable batteries' out there complete with toolkits so idiots can rip their gadgets apart, surely you're not advocating we are banned from opening our own property?
In the past a Nokia Akku (not a Battery) was available everywhere!  :-+
Cellphone Shops resell good Chinese Brands who even work better than the original.
Buy a Phone with an non removable Akku is just insane in my Eyes.
In English, we do not use the word "akku". (We used to use "accumulator", but that is absolutely archaic.) It's a rechargeable battery. In common usage, we also call individual cells "batteries", though that is technically incorrect.
Chinese clone batteries are a waste of money in general, but there are some which are of decent quality, the difficult part is spotting which ones fall into which category, i would suggest that buying one from a reputable phone store and not some online marketplace is a good way to weed out the majority of the crap.

Again, 'planned obsolescence' is *not* a conspiracy, it's part of the design of the product, if you seal in a battery that has an expected lifespan of X charge cycles or Y months, then you have planned the product obsolescence, it really is as simple as that, if you allow me to replace the battery for myself then *I* can decide when to buy a new phone and not have to buy when the battery dies (though I may still choose to)
 

Offline Lord of nothing

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Quote
Chinese clone batteries are a waste of money in general, but there are some which are of decent quality, the difficult part is spotting which ones fall into which category, i would suggest that buying one from a reputable phone store and not some online marketplace is a good way to weed out the majority of the crap.
Until ~2010 we had an Offline Shop and resold that Accu from an Slovakian Company who got there stuff from China. The Quality was the same and sometime better than the original. The befit was the Accu was "brand new" and not old stock from the Distributor.
Maybe you can remember the Time where People wack an new fresh Accu into there Toothbrush.

And Battery here are not a Problem and get normally not into a Landfill because in every supermarket are Collection Boxes for them and the Public Waste Management have place who every Hazardous Material can be dropped off for free.
Made in Japan, destroyed in Sulz im Wienerwald.
 

Offline madires

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IMHO, there are several reasons to glue battery packs into gadgets:
- design (thinner gadget)
- costs (no battery compartment, no battery enclosure)
- more profit (if battery becomes unusable user has to buy a new gadget or pay an exorbitant repair fee)
- lifetime (typical usage is 2 years - why add features users don't want?)
 

Online tooki

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In the past a Nokia Akku (not a Battery) was available everywhere!  :-+
Cellphone Shops resell good Chinese Brands who even work better than the original.
Buy a Phone with an non removable Akku is just insane in my Eyes.
In English, we do not use the word "akku". (We used to use "accumulator", but that is absolutely archaic.) It's a rechargeable battery. In common usage, we also call individual cells "batteries", though that is technically incorrect.
I've noticed that using "akku", "accumulator", or similar terminology is a strong sign that the author is European, and this is no exception. :)
And that's fine, as long as they don't attempt to correct others who are (correctly) using the word "battery".

I don't believe in conspiracies, so I dismiss the whole "planned obsolescence" and customer lock-in arguments.

Here are some rational reasons for moving to built-in batteries:
  • Most customers never replaced removable batteries anyway. Long before smartphones were even remotely popular, most people replaced their phones after only 18 months on average. At that age, very few batteries have failed.
I may have been unusual but I had spare batteries for my Nokias, all the way up to and including 8310.
I had and carried spare batteries for Smartphones up to and including my HTC Desire.

The Samsung I don't have a spare battery for becuse i carry a LiIon pack because I also have a Google Pixel that has no user replaceable battery.

I would much rather have a replaceable battery for both.

I carried a spare because until recently my line of work often made it difficult to plug in and charge on some sites, but even when not at work a slim spare battery is far more convenient than a lump of a LiIon charger and cable.
I said "most" for a reason. This is an engineering forum, we are by definition not typical users. I didn't claim (nor do I now) that there aren't users who did swap batteries. There are. But they are a minority.


  • Size. People like thin. Removable batteries require both the added volume of a battery compartment, as well as the added volume of the shell of the battery needed for safety.
Invalid argument.

Samsung S5, 8.1mm thick, removeable battery.

Google Pixel, 8.6mm thick, non removeable battery.
Of course it's a valid argument. Comparing dissimilar models is an invalid argument. The point is, how thin would the same device be with and without a user-replaceable battery. How does it affect total volume, component layout, etc? It is unquestionable that adding the protective elements of a user-replaceable battery (the battery's own shell, barriers in the battery compartment, more robust connectors, etc) add volume, and that volume has to go somewhere.

  • Safety. In popular phones with removable batteries (like many Samsung models until recently), battery counterfeiting is rampant. But with Li-Ion/LiPo/etc batteries being so sensitive, those fake batteries can be dangerous. Using internal batteries significantly reduces the chances of a user receiving a counterfeit battery. (Note that I'm not referring to quality aftermarket batteries, but actual fake "original" ones sold to people who believe they are buying the real thing. A normal user has no way to detect a potentially deadly counterfeit battery.
people will buy fakes because people are incessant bargain hunters and most believe cheaper is better, regardless of the value, they're idiots.

The counterfeit argument is vaguely valid but even having a non user replaceable battery doesn't stop it happening, there are myriad counterfeit iPhone, iPad, Samsung Tab, Lenovo etc. etc. batteries for 'non user replaceable batteries' out there complete with toolkits so idiots can rip their gadgets apart, surely you're not advocating we are banned from opening our own property?
I specifically addressed off-brand batteries as being outside the scope of my argument. I am talking about counterfeits, which were a huge problem for Samsung. People were spending full price for a battery they believed to be an original Samsung, and instead were receiving a cheap knockoff. This was especially problematic with Amazon, which pools its own stock with that sent in by FBA vendors, who pollute Amazon's legitimate Samsung stock with counterfeits.

I also specifically chose my wording to say that non-accessible batteries reduce the risk of counterfeits, not eliminate it. I never claimed it eliminated the risk entirely.

As for your claim that I'm advocating a ban on opening your own goods, I'm sorry, I said nothing of the sort and have no interest in engaging in a childish reductio-ad-absurdum bicker with you.

Again, 'planned obsolescence' is *not* a conspiracy, it's part of the design of the product, if you seal in a battery that has an expected lifespan of X charge cycles or Y months, then you have planned the product obsolescence, it really is as simple as that, if you allow me to replace the battery for myself then *I* can decide when to buy a new phone and not have to buy when the battery dies (though I may still choose to)
"Planned obsolescence" means designing a product to fail on purpose after a given amount of time. I have only ever heard of one legitimate instance of this being done, namely the incandescent light bulb cartel of the early 20th century.

What we see all the time now is products being designed down to cost, with components selected such as to be as cheap as possible and still outlast the expected lifespan of the device (at minimum, the warranty period). It's a subtle distinction, but it's a difference nonetheless. Why spend more on components that last longer than the device will be used anyway? As I said, even before smartphones, people were switching phones every 18 months on average, almost all still fully functional. Why spend extra on -- and make the consumer pay for -- components that last 5 years instead of 2, if the last 3 of those 5 years will be spent in a drawer or landfill anyway?

Why design a smartphone to last 5 years? By that age, it's hopelessly outdated as far as software is concerned.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2017, 02:42:16 pm by tooki »
 
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Offline Lord of nothing

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 :clap: just read the DIN-Norm 40729.  :popcorn:
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Offline tablatronix

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apple has battery replacement service, The batteries are usually glued to the back of the case by design, eg ipads and some latpops, the replacement procedure for these is to remove back cover replace the entire assembly, cover and battery all in one. If you have custom engraving your replacement will take 3 times longer because of this, apples service mentions this is particular. So yeah easier for them, harder for you, but still not a conspiracy.

And yeah planned obsolescence is not a money making scheme, it is to make sure no parts are over designed to outlast the others, thereby saving costs. With lithium batteries outlasting the 2-3 year phone cycle, making them removable became part of that it seems.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2017, 03:40:00 pm by tablatronix »
 
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Offline ejeffrey

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I may have been unusual but I had spare batteries for my Nokias, all the way up to and including 8310.
I had and carried spare batteries for Smartphones up to and including my HTC Desire.

The Samsung I don't have a spare battery for becuse i carry a LiIon pack because I also have a Google Pixel that has no user replaceable battery.

I would much rather have a replaceable battery for both.

Also note that carrying spare Li-Ion batteries around is a safety hazard unless the contacts are properly protected, which a lot of people won't know to do, or will not do even if they know better.

  • Size. People like thin. Removable batteries require both the added volume of a battery compartment, as well as the added volume of the shell of the battery needed for safety.
Invalid argument.

Samsung S5, 8.1mm thick, removeable battery.
Google Pixel, 8.6mm thick, non removeable battery.

Are you seriously claiming that the additional housing on the battery plus the battery compartment cover don't take up space?  Because comparing two completely different phones doesn't make sense.  Getting rid of the battery compartment definitely enables either a thinner device or more features or more battery capacity in the same size.

For sure non-removable are worse for the people who carried extra batteries around.  A portable Li-Ion pack is much less convenient than swapping batteries.  But in my experience that is a very small market, and even a lot of people who might do that would rather have a better phone and carry an external pack, including (apparently) yourself, since you can still get phones with removable batteries yet you have a pixel.
 
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Offline madires

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Adding a protection circuit and a mechanical contact shutter to a Li-Ion battery is simple. And a spare battery for a smart phone would be less cumbersome than carrying a power bank with you for recharging the phone's battery.
 
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Offline Dubbie

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You would need two spares to make up for the loss of capacity.
 

Online tooki

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:clap: just read the DIN-Norm 40729.  :popcorn:
Are you seriously suggesting that I, a native English speaker, should take language advice from a document written by Germans?  :-DD Dude, I've literally worked in technical writing and translation here, working on fixing English written by non-natives, primarily German speakers. I'm keenly aware of what is and isn't native English. And I know which sources do and don't matter when it comes to determining what is and isn't correct English. German documents don't make the cut -- they often use very incorrect English. (I can spot Denglisch from a mile away. Or 1.6km if you prefer!)
 

Offline KL27x

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I am not a big fan of the "thinner at any cost" trend in cell phones
I take issue with the thinness of my smart phone. It is gorgeous to look at. But it is so thin it can't even function in a practical way without a case. The very act of holding the phone by the edges will activate the touchscreen. Unless you have some other unorthodox way to hold a phone while using it, it is a non-functional phone until a case is put on. I have tried to use it without a case, and it just doesn't work.

So without the cases, my phone is 1/3rd the thickness of my GF phone. With the case, they might as well be the same, but her phone has over 2x the battery life.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2017, 01:53:32 am by KL27x »
 
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Offline CJay

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Are you seriously claiming that the additional housing on the battery plus the battery compartment cover don't take up space?  Because comparing two completely different phones doesn't make sense.  Getting rid of the battery compartment definitely enables either a thinner device or more features or more battery capacity in the same size.

For sure non-removable are worse for the people who carried extra batteries around.  A portable Li-Ion pack is much less convenient than swapping batteries.  But in my experience that is a very small market, and even a lot of people who might do that would rather have a better phone and carry an external pack, including (apparently) yourself, since you can still get phones with removable batteries yet you have a pixel.
Nope, I'm not claiming it doesn't take space, I highlighted the difference between the two to show it *CAN* be done in a thin form factor, I realise that it's not an ideal comparison but there is no sealed, thinner S5 or a fatter Pixel with a removable battery so it's not an easy comparison to make.

Portable LiIon packs have another significant disadvantage over a removable cell, they can only charge at the rate set by the phone and their own DC-DC, I.E. not that fast and often not fast enough.

TBH the Samsung is slightly too thin for my tastes but it's a company provided phone and it does the job it is provided for and is ideal for those times when working the small hours in some back end of nowhere facility where the *only* option is a spare cell or LiIon pack (and as mentioned above, LiIon packs are not ideal)

The Pixel and the HTC One before it is my personal phone, it's not as critical that it's always on* so the removable cell was less of a consideration but if they were available I'd have definitely given it consideration.

*(and my job has changed so an always on work phone is no longer essential outside of office hours)

 

Offline CJay

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Of course it's a valid argument. Comparing dissimilar models is an invalid argument. The point is, how thin would the same device be with and without a user-replaceable battery. How does it affect total volume, component layout, etc? It is unquestionable that adding the protective elements of a user-replaceable battery (the battery's own shell, barriers in the battery compartment, more robust connectors, etc) add volume, and that volume has to go somewhere.


OK, so persuade Samsung to make a version of the S5 without a removable cell or HTC/Google to build a Pixel with and then we can compare properly (somewhat tongue in cheek).

My point was that it is entirely possible to produce pretty and slim devices with removable cells, not that they were equivalent devices in any other respect. I appreciate that it will by necessity add an amount of volume and weight, but I chose that example to illustrate that it need not add excessive amounts (and also because they are the two phones I have personal experience of).

I specifically addressed off-brand batteries as being outside the scope of my argument. I am talking about counterfeits, which were a huge problem for Samsung. People were spending full price for a battery they believed to be an original Samsung, and instead were receiving a cheap knockoff. This was especially problematic with Amazon, which pools its own stock with that sent in by FBA vendors, who pollute Amazon's legitimate Samsung stock with counterfeits.

And there are, still, batteries out there claiming to be OEM, or at least misleadingly packaged without actually stating such, for devices that are intended to be fitted by end users, it's difficult to discern a genuine battery from an 'off brand' device, especially when the sealed in battery has only in house markings, it may even be reasonable to make an argument that it's easier to offer non original batteries as genuine because the internal ones have less easily identifiable security measures like holograms, serial numbers etc. so the logical extension of that would be to restrict users ability to replace them even further or is that another absurd argument?

I'm not saying counterfeiting isn't a valid concern, it very much is and should be stopped for several reasons, not least safety, it's been a big problem for a long time, but claiming sealed in batteries are used  because 'it's for your own good' is rather patronising.

As for your claim that I'm advocating a ban on opening your own goods, I'm sorry, I said nothing of the sort and have no interest in engaging in a childish reductio-ad-absurdum bicker with you.

Mea culpa, ban was too strong a word but it's easy to think and hard to counter that reducing user serviceability isn't comparable to a restriction of rights or is that absurd too?

We've also had this conversation before about Apple error #53 which was 'to protect users' by turning their phone into a useless lump of metal which required, at first, a replacement device to be purchased at significant expense instead of just warning and switching off a facility on the phone.

A 'mistake' that was corrected by Apple when a not insignificant number of users got bitten by it.

"Planned obsolescence" means designing a product to fail on purpose after a given amount of time. I have only ever heard of one legitimate instance of this being done, namely the incandescent light bulb cartel of the early 20th century.

What we see all the time now is products being designed down to cost, with components selected such as to be as cheap as possible and still outlast the expected lifespan of the device (at minimum, the warranty period). It's a subtle distinction, but it's a difference nonetheless.
It's hairsplitting IMHO because even on cheap devices often the only component that fails close to the warranty expiry is the battery. It's difficult to make a convincing argument that it's not a form of obsolescence on a sealed device because the device would in all probability be perfectly functional with a new battery and, as you say, expected lifespan is designed in by choice of that (and possibly other) component.

It would also be a very short sighted company that couldn't see that as a factor in forecasting future markets.

Why design a smartphone to last 5 years? By that age, it's hopelessly outdated as far as software is concerned.
I agree, but it's likely given the reliability of electronic components that device will end up in E-Waste because the battery is not user replaceable.

It's not a great stretch of the imagination to think that those devices might easily fulfil a useful life in some part of the world with a developing economy, as a device for a child or even as a spare for the time when you need to order a replacement battery for your other device.

I would for instance have given my HTC One to my son or be still using it myself if replacing the battery didn't necessitate breaking the phone apart.

Of course I had more than one feature on my list of requirements when I made my decision to buy a device with a non replaceable battery, I would have preferred a version with a battery/cell/accumulator that I could easily replace, even if it meant disassembling the phone with some oddball screwdriver, I chose a 'high end' device precisely because I wanted it to last longer, in the event battery life was what necessitated its replacement, not software, but again I realise I may be atypical.


 

Online tooki

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I can't speak to how other manufacturers handle it, but Apple performs battery service at a reasonable cost (in the case of laptops, Apple's battery service, including labor, costs exactly the same as the replacement batteries for models with user-replaceable batteries).

Since most users will take a device to an official dealer for service, having the batteries be dealer-replaced significantly (nearly entirely) reduces the risk of it being a fake. (Conversely, taking it to an aftermarket repair shop almost guarantees it won't be OEM.) Given the consequences of a failed fake battery - like the severe burns that have happened to Samsung users with fake batteries - I absolutely think that taking measures to reduce aftermarket batteries is sensible. The average user is not like us, able to (maybe) tell apart a fake from original, or good quality aftermarket from low quality. It's not about protecting engineer types like us. It's about protecting our family and friends who are not tech wizards. And yes, in this instance, because it's a safety issue, I would actually endorse DRM or similar to enforce use of original parts only, even if it does raise cost. Lithium rechargeables are simply too dangerous to fuck around with.

Given that you agree that it's a safety issue, I'm not sure how you arrive at it being "patronising".


As for what fails first on phones, I guess we've had different experiences. I've had the battery fail on some, on others it's been other parts, like switches or buttons. I don't think we can generalize unless we actually have some data on this.


As for handing down gadgets, if the person receiving my old iPhone  wants a new battery, they can spend the $79 to have the battery service done. (Which is often accomplished by Apple doing a straight device swap, such that any other problems are eliminated as well.)
 

Offline cdev

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"What the large print giveth, the small print taketh away."
 

Offline cdev

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Where are good places to buy these variously sized lipo batteries in their little plastic bags to make our old devices live again?
"What the large print giveth, the small print taketh away."
 

Online Jeroen3

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Everyone keeps mentioning planned obsolescence as a bad thing. But if devices were to last 20 years, you'd still be using them right now. Remember 10 years ago?

Giving these high tech products a shorter lifespan allowed the market to innovate from the phones below, to black rectangles with a screen containing more mips than a high end pc of 10 years ago.
Wait for Moore's law to settle down, forcing innovation to move to the software division to still gain the speed boost everyone is addicted to.

Devices just aren't intended to have a replacable battery. And they don't need them in the planned lifespan.
It's like replacing the engine in a car, not needed until broken.

You can rant on this whatever you want, everything is still going forward technologically. Which is better as standing still.
 
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Offline CJay

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Apple are along the right lines with their battery service which, as you say, ensures users get a reliable, safe product, I'm not sure other manufacturers offer such a service.

Sadly there are many more small shops and online stores offering cheaper services which as you say almost definitely guarantees a non OEM battery of varying quality and safety so making it simpler, cheaper to obtain and fit a *genuine* battery would make it safer still wouldn't it?

I've no idea (and I suspect Apple could only make a rough guess) what proportion of battery replacements are done by those independent stores with non OEM parts but gut feeling would be that it's a larger number than Apple see, I can walk to five stores (and those are the ones I can think of) in my local small town centre who offer that service while you wait so there is a market for it, obviously I have no idea of volumes for the service but...

I believe the answer to the safety problem in this instance is not to make the batteries harder to replace, it's to make it simpler and cheaper to obtain and replace with the genuine article.

Because it's a safety critical part I agree that DRM on batteries could be a good thing, I think it may even be a best case scenario with some form of online validation on or before first power up to marry the battery to the phone so the DRM chip can't be cloned or defeated?

Of the phones I have experience of (and phones I know of owned by family and friends) the battery is by far the most common hardware failure, other than physical damage to charge/data sockets and smashed screens (leading to my experience of #53).

I've had one smartphone die of a genuine component failure attributable to wear, the power switch on a HTC Desire lost its click but still worked and continues to work with a little patience, I had more hardware failures on the fabled old GSM Nokia phones so my personal experience is that phones have become more reliable despite them being designed to a price point.
 

Offline CJay

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Everyone keeps mentioning planned obsolescence as a bad thing. But if devices were to last 20 years, you'd still be using them right now. Remember 10 years ago?

Giving these high tech products a shorter lifespan allowed the market to innovate from the phones below, to black rectangles with a screen containing more mips than a high end pc of 10 years ago.
Wait for Moore's law to settle down, forcing innovation to move to the software division to still gain the speed boost everyone is addicted to.

Devices just aren't intended to have a replacable battery. And they don't need them in the planned lifespan.
It's like replacing the engine in a car, not needed until broken.

You can rant on this whatever you want, everything is still going forward technologically. Which is better as standing still.

 |O |O |O |O
 

Online hans

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I can relate to what Jeroen3 is saying. As long as the battery outlives the technology era it's fine.

In my HTC Desire I replaced my battery after 3 years of owning the device. Once I had done that, within 3 months support for many software applications (eg Skype) dropped.. It basically only purpose remaining was calls, texts and very slow internet browsing. So much for lengthening the life of a device.

At this moment I own a Motorola Moto G 1st gen. I've got the phone for about 34 months and it basically can do what I want; but the device is slow, there is not enough memory left for applications, and worst of all it starts to randomly reset and sometimes not power on. Temporary fix: disconnect battery for 10 minutes and try again. But is the battery at fault? I don't give it a chance: battery life has not changed rapidly and is still OK, and resets occur at 30% charge but also on almost full charge. My conclusion is a faulty main board.

So once more I need to replace a phone after 3 years. If it was not this hardware fault, it would probably have been the unusable software in short time. It takes literally a minute to go from homescreen to the keyboard in Google Maps to start navigation. Then if I use the device as a car stereo it becomes twice as bad.

So I don't really take planned obsolescence on a phone. My phone has 1GB of RAM, the next one I will be buying has atleast 4GB. FLASH storage is about 20-50x faster with new models. No wonder the phone is slow. Technology in mobile market still moves very quick. It has little use to replace old batteries in that regard.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2017, 08:08:40 am by hans »
 

Offline madires

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I believe the answer to the safety problem in this instance is not to make the batteries harder to replace, it's to make it simpler and cheaper to obtain and replace with the genuine article.

Yep! One of the problems with Apple is that they don't sell spare parts to independent repair shops. So the repair shops are forced to buy spares from China and hope the parts are ok-ish. Or they have to take the spares from broken products. To make things worse Apple's e-waste recycler have to shredder everything. Very "green". :--

Because it's a safety critical part I agree that DRM on batteries could be a good thing, I think it may even be a best case scenario with some form of online validation on or before first power up to marry the battery to the phone so the DRM chip can't be cloned or defeated?

I disagree with that. DRM would make spare batteries more expensive and also would create another vendor lock-in. I know, it's a mess. A few days ago I was looking for a spare battery pack for my ThinkPad. The genuine spare is €115, the cheapest compatible spare €15. Reviews of the cheap spares are mostly something like "after recharging 3 times the runtime went down to 50%". I think I'll choose one around €35 claiming to have Panasonic/Sanyo cells and buy that from a German seller, because he is liable for that claim. And I could replace the cells in the old battery pack with genuine Sony/LG/Panasonic/Sanyo as alternative solution if the spare sucks.
 

Offline CJay

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I disagree with that. DRM would make spare batteries more expensive and also would create another vendor lock-in. I know, it's a mess. A few days ago I was looking for a spare battery pack for my ThinkPad. The genuine spare is €115, the cheapest compatible spare €15. Reviews of the cheap spares are mostly something like "after recharging 3 times the runtime went down to 50%". I think I'll choose one around €35 claiming to have Panasonic/Sanyo cells and buy that from a German seller, because he is liable for that claim. And I could replace the cells in the old battery pack with genuine Sony/LG/Panasonic/Sanyo as alternative solution if the spare sucks.

It is a rip off and a vendor lock in is a massive downside but I can't think of another way to make it safe that doesn't involve having to buy a new device.

Apple do a good thing with the Battery service, at least it looks that way until you look at the prices properly, it becomes eye wateringly expensive and makes it look very attractive to buy a knock off battery.
 

Offline Lord of nothing

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Quote
I disagree with that. DRM would make spare batteries more expensive and also would create another vendor lock-in. I know, it's a mess. A few days ago I was looking for a spare battery pack for my ThinkPad. The genuine spare is €115, the cheapest compatible spare €15. Reviews of the cheap spares are mostly something like "after recharging 3 times the runtime went down to 50%".
WTF? DRM = Digital Radio?!
I also got some Spare Accu for my Thinkpad. Our IT Distributor sold them for 60€ the big one?! The Quality are very good I could not see any downside. I dont think that big IT Distributor resell Chinese Crap Accu.
Made in Japan, destroyed in Sulz im Wienerwald.
 

Offline madires

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Offline cdev

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Think of it this way, they need to make lots of money now, while they still can, not just for themselves, but also for their descendants and all succeeding generations in the work-less future.

Without jobs, they won't be able to live off their good looks alone, if you know what I mean.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2017, 11:00:51 pm by cdev »
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