Lithium Ion vs. Lithium Polymer – What’s the Difference?

by: Matthew SabatiniOctober 18, 2011
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Did you ever think about why your phone works at all? Probably not. But, if you think about it, all portable gadgets rely on a battery to keep ticking – and some have better battery life than others. That’s why we’re going to take a peek at what keeps your phone ticking and why some batteries do better than others.

Lithium-Ion Battery

Lithium-Ion Batteries began their development in 1912. However, they did not become popular until they were adopted by Sony in 1991. Lithium Ion Batteries have high energy-densities and cost less than lithium-polymer batteries. In addition, they do not require priming when first used and have a low self-discharge. However, lithium-ion batteries do suffer from aging – even when not in use.


 

Type Secondary
Chemical Reaction Varies, depending on electrolyte.
Operating Temperature 4º F to 140º F ( -20º C to 60º C)
Recommended for Cellular telephones, mobile computing devices.
Initial Voltage 3.6 & 7.2
Capacity Varies (generally up to twice the capacity of a Ni-Cd cellular battery)
Discharge Rate Flat
Recharge Life 300 – 400 cycles for 100%
Charging Temperature 32º F to 140º F (0º C to 60º C)
Storage Life Loses less than 0.1% per month.
Storage Temperature -4º F to 140º F ( -20º C to 60º C)
Disposal
  • Can be recycled by dropping them off at any of our over 7,200 stores nationwide.
  • Should be recycled through your local RadioShack store.
Other Notes
  • Typically designed to be recharged in the device rather than in an external charger.
  • The chemical construction of this battery limits it to a rectangular shape.
  • Lighter than nickel-based secondary batteries with (Ni-Cd and NiMH).

Lithium-Polymer Battery

Lithium-polymer batteries can be dated back to the 1970’s. Their first design included a dry solid polymer electrolyte that resembled a plastic film. Therefore, this type of battery can result in credit card thin designs while still holding relatively good battery life. In addition, lithium-polymer batteries are very lightweight and have improved safety. However, these batteries will cost more to manufacture and have a worse energy density than lithium-ion batteries.


 

Type Secondary
Chemical Reaction Varies, depending on electrolyte.
Operating Temperature Improved performance at low and high temperatures.
Recommended for Cellular telephones, mobile computing devices.
Initial Voltage 3.6 & 7.2
Capacity Varies depending on the battery; superior to standard lithium-ion.
Discharge Rate Flat
Recharge Life 300 – 400 cycles
Charging Temperature 32º F to 140º F (0º C to 60º C)
Storage Life Loses less than 0.1% per month.
Storage Temperature -4º F to 140º F ( -20º C to 60º C)
Disposal
  • Can be recycled by dropping them off at any of our over 7,200 stores nationwide.
  • Should be recycled through your local RadioShack store.
Other Notes
  • Typically designed to be recharged in the device rather than in an external charger.
  • Lighter than nickel-based secondary batteries with (Ni-Cd and NiMH).
  • Can be made in a variety of shapes.

Wrap-Up and Winner

After reading all of the pro’s, con’s, and specifications of both battery types, you can see that there isn’t much of a competition here. Although the lithium-polymer battery is sleeker and thinner, lithium-ion batteries have a higher energy density and cost less to manufacture. Therefore, we obviously know which one is chosen by companies like Samsung, Apple, Motorola, and more. Finally, with new chemicals and such being added to these batteries often, who knows which will come out on top in the long run. The only thing we do know is that this phone, will be sporting a very thin and transparent lithium-ion battery.

Source: RadioShack

  • Anonymous

    One big minus to Li-Ion is the capability to explode at odd times. (Up next to your face, in your pocket, etc.) My understanding is that most Li-Poly battery’s do not suffer from this affliction.

    • Guy Anderton

      I know this is an old discussion but really? I use rc cars a lot and use lipo batteries in them. I have seen them explode into flames for no apparent reason. I have never seen this with lithium ion batteries.

      • Mhz

        It doesnt matter what you say… here we’ll see Apple fanatics say the worst sh** about lithium ion batteries. Thats because is in english. If you find a comparison like this in spanish, comments will be compleatly diferent and will support lithium ion bats.

  • Anonymous

    i’m just amazed at how little it seems battery tech has advanced over the years when compared to pretty much any other essential tech components.

    • John C

      Silicon-Anode and graphene batteries may change all that. And,.. A123 system battery tech for vehicles has changed the car industry.

      • SoCoolCurt

        Well I would hope so at this point lol. Honestly though, I wrote that comment 4 years ago and battery tech still hasn’t improved that much. Yeah smartphones are more power hungry and sure, they charge faster but mine can still only last a day. *shrugs* guess I’ll keep waiting until I don’t have to wait any more lol.

      • Buck Turgidson

        A123 went bankrupt and was bought by the Chinese for next to nothing, dimwit.
        Their secret sauce nano-crap didn’t work.
        It cost US taxpayers a $billion.

        • John C

          i never suggested A123 didn’t have its share of problems. And your non objective comment shows me just how comprehensive your imagination is.

      • tigertoo

        I tend to agree with Buck but not in such an offensive way. Unfortunately A123 did nothing to promote battery technology and when off on a non-sustainable tangent.. Just ask Tesla! And silicone anode, Graphene?? Well your right MAYBE?? but who ever made money on a maybe? Again just ask Tesla. They are sticking with tried and tested li-ion and developing to its full potential. All the rest are just click bait rubbish news with little or no merit.

  • Anonymous

    Lithium Ion also degrades over use. It holds less and less charge each cycle.

  • Lolno

    Don’t forget the other reason companies like li-ion batteries… they can sell more because the second a li-ion battery is made, its dying.

  • JD

    LithiumIon batteries have a far superior capacity than LiPolymer. They cannot be made very flat though and so are unsuitable for phones. This article says that LiIon has better energy density in the paragraph, then states the opposite in the list :/

    • Bware

      It says “high energy densities” not “higher than”. That sentance was only saying Ion costs less than polymer. Polymers are considered superior in capacity (not density) and that’s over time. Ion degrads faster over time so we have to buy more. Polymer is more bang for your buck over time, and less bang in your pocket or your face, as long as the corporate profit motive stays out of it (not likely). Just clarifying, no offense.

  • Leonard Liu

    Lithium ion batteries have a higher heat tolerance, higher charge cycles, and greater life span.

    • Leonard Liu

      i meant polymer lol

      • KidA

        Wow, good number of likes to both the comments!

        • Ching Chang

          So I’m guessing 34 people are idiots and 72 are awesome… LOLOL
          I just love this voting system

      • dan

        Lol I agree that li-poly is great. In my experience with them anyways … I do know they can be very unstable and unpredictable, But I’ve had a very big one explode on me. It wasn’t one that would be used in a phone but all I’m saying is if there is such a risk in any of the smaller ones, I wouldn’t trust such a battery in something I’m frequently holding up to my face

  • Clayton Ginther

    I wonder what the energy density to size ratio is though… if they were the same size is it possible that LI polymer would end up being better?

  • Battery Question

    Can a charger that came with a polymer batt operated cell phone be used with a ion batt operated cell phone. I am not not battery knowledgable, but I do know that particular chargers should go specifically with the type that they are charging and shouldn’t be interused.

    • Gadg.i.c

      I guess charger may not interfere battery life span because nowadays most device charge through USB port. As long the correct voltage out from the charger does not harm the battery.

  • frankenmint

    Ok 1st off – Source is Radio Shack…why do you guys feed into a system of non-original research and effort…this is a hallow article that is meant to be filler to take up your time on the Radio Shack Website. There is nothing informative above…also….you guys in the comments and the author are all hella stupid….Lithium ION is a family of batteries that also includes Lipo batteries too! Its like saying “Atoms are better than Hydrogen!” WTF???? Notice how Wikipedia references a LIPO as a Lithium Ion Polymer Battery?

  • omid

    I’d like buy Asus n550jv. it’s expensive(“not good :( ” ) and its config is very good,but there is a big problem.this laptop had Lithium-Polymer Battery and I don’t know what I must do ? Is it so big problem?

  • or pick a name

    Lithium polymer are used for powering of electric r/c planes. I wonder if it is because of the higher discharge rate.

  • dazweeja

    This article is very, very poor. Lithium-Polymer batteries have 20% or higher energy density than Lithium-Ions. That is why a smaller Li-Poly battery can have the same capacity as a Li-Ion. It is also one of the reasons they are more expensive. If you read the source material for this article, you can see that “energy density” was mentioned as an advantage over Ni-Cad batteries, not Li-Poly.

    • scavenger

      I don’t think “poor” is the right adjective for this piece of sh*t article.

    • HAYDER AL-AKAM

      but after all they are not in to chemistry , they just wanted to make an article , i knew this is not the site to know more about this

  • Raj

    Can I use Li-ion battery instead of Li-polymer ???????? I have mobile phone which has battery of Li-polymer cell and it is damaged so in the market battery with Li-ion available can I use it???????

  • star

    how is lithium-ion/ lithium-polymer different from lithium-ion polymer??

  • Chuck Norris

    Wow,She is so beautiful

  • sbfalex
  • sbfalex

    wtf… according to wikipedia, they are the exact same technology with just different marketing names… how do you come up with such a comprehensive lie android authority?

  • VN

    Lithium polymer can be charged quicker than lithium ion from what i have read elsewhere and my new phone with lithium polymer charges amazingly quickly and lasts much longer than m my previous one which had lithium ion.

  • rambadre

    Could you let
    me know the characterization needed to upgrade an Operating System
    of a smartphone with another developed version (e.g. Android V4.2 Jelly bean
    replaced with Android V4.4 KitKat).

  • iKrontologist

    Reality is that these new Lithium Polymer batteries coming from SAMSUNG are a whole new breed. Samsung SDI the company that spends as much as 3 times as much as any other battery maker on the planet, has partnered up with other research groups like Tesla and BMW to advance battery technology today. Samsung’s Gear S 3G smartwatch is the first example of advanced Ultra High Density. Even on a smartphone watch like this, that runs real GPS, 3G, Wifi, etc radios, that competitors are NOT running can last 2 days. They last longer even though they are still the same 320mAh storage as others, curved, smaller and safer. But…. still not as advanced as what will be in Galaxy S6!

    So without a doubt this story is WRONG….. this will also be the first sealed non-user replaceable battery in a Galaxy S smartphone. It will have newest Ultra High Density technology, super thin, flexible, expensive (at least at first) using new materials and be extremely safe….. compared to Lithium Ion batteries. You could cut it or hit it with a hammer and it won’t explode or catch fire like Lithium Ion batteries. This is in essence a dramatic change in how batteries are made, extending their life and safety and I’ll bet that it eventually gets contributed to Apple…. when they finally start using the technology 5 years from now! …….get real people. Because Apple has never been 1st at everything and their reluctance to follow Samsung into the future on Phablets is a prime example of just how CHEAP in all reality they are. They are always pushing for highest margins. Because they know their iDiot users love stuffing all those obscene Profits in theirs and share holders pockets and being seen as iSheep Elitists in this messed up ignorant Jonesing Apple’s iDiocy of GREED!!!

    Why spend so much money on R&D like Samsung? When you could be piling it all up in bogus Long Term Irish and Bahamian Securities investments (not really CASH by any means). All to avoid the US Tax Man paying their fair share here. Which makes it look like they are rich with the Glorious rotten bitten apple logo on them. Just so their iDiots can all brag about what iGlorified Elitist Twits…. they all are and how they’ve given Apple the highest market cap, on and on ad nausea, la… di… dah dahhhh….. and so forth!!! ;-P

    btw… ANDROID AUTHORITY? You need to get some new writers. Who aren’t working both sides like they do here now constantly. Sometimes we can’t tell if this is an Apple Fan site for their iDiots or actually have writers with any actual knowledge whatsoever! :D

  • Yoshix64

    I think Lithium-Polymer is better because there are more and more devices using it.

  • Mubbu

    Hii.I want to know that.can i use lithium polymer batteries in my e bike ?

  • Noah

    I fly radio control for hobby and lithium polymers are in all my crafts. Nano technology is offered in some batterys and is used in the process of making some batterys. Compared to the ones that dont use nano technology in the building process,, the nanos are smaller, lighter, and stronger than those that arent. Nanos are considerably more expensive, and i havent owned any of the said batterys more than three years. so only time will tell. I charge low and slow and have no complaints about **turnigy**lipolys and their “nano-tech” line. A-spec is their best battery chemistry and its some space aged sh*t. Like EXTRA shingles nice.

  • comment2015

    coming very late to comment (4years but who’s counting) however, for what this comment may be worth, this article is an excellent concise, clear summary of the differences between polymer and ion types and application. Thank you