Why Bigger Batteries Matter More than Thinness [Editorial]

by: AlexanderFebruary 8, 2012

We have seen some pretty thin phones come around lately, haven’t we? From the Motorola Droid RAZR, to the Huawei Ascend P1 at CES, and to the Samsung Galaxy S3, which is rumored to be thinner than the incredibly svelte Droid RAZR. Even thought the Droid RAZR Maxx with that huge battery on its back, but let’s face the fact that the batteries in these thin phones are pretty bad, usually around 1500mAh to 1900mAh which tend to not last very long. So – why can’t manufacturers get it that we want more capacity in our batteries more than a thinner phone? Wouldn’t you love to have a phone that can last you almost 2 days with 4G LTE on the entire time? I know I would absolutely love that. Motorola seems to be starting to get the idea with their new Droid RAZR Maxx, which from the tests we’ve seen can last a full 21 hours on LTE and still have a bit of juice left, which is just amazing and makes you wonder will the Droid RAZR Maxx set a trend with other OEM’s?

What is the first accessory you buy when you get a new device? For me, and most other people it’s an extended battery, because the OEM battery is just to bad to use everyday especially for those with an LTE device, LTE drinks battery juice like its water. We’ve seen manufacturers putting in bigger batteries from the 1550mAh battery the original Motorola Droid had all the way to the 2500mAh battery on the Galaxy Note, and finally the biggest battery beast around the Motorola Droid RAZR Maxx which has a 3300mAh battery, that is unforunately non-removable.

Why we are over the Super Thin Android Devices

What are the real advantages to having an ultra thin Android device? Nothing other then saying to your friends “my phone’s thinner then your phone”. Other people feel that the thinner phones are easier to break, I used to think so too, but now it’s much harder to break them. So who is the victim of ultra thin devices? Our dear friend battery life, of course. Sure, make the frame pretty thin then place a small battery back there. Why not place a larger battery there? If you did I bet you would sell a whole lot more devices.

Earlier I talked about how the only manufacturer so far to place a larger battery on a thin phone (and still keep it relatively thin) was Motorola with their one of their newest Droid’s the Droid RAZR Maxx which was shown off at CES as having a battery that can last 21 hours of talk time. As we’ve seen with many of the Droid Razr Maxx reviews on different Android sites, including ours, the battery does live up to it’s advertising. So let’s see we have a 9mm thick device with a 3300mAh battery, thats about twice the size of a normal battery, that’s pretty darn great. Many have said, myself included, that this phone is probably the best Android phone we’ve seen in a long time. Which is a big reason why I want to trade in my Droid Bionic for the Droid RAZR Maxx, don’t get me wrong I love my Bionic, but I don’t love the battery life.

What about that 5.3-inch Galaxy Note? The battery on the Galaxy Note is around 2500mAh which isn’t bad, but for having a 5.3″ screen there is plenty of room back there to put a big battery. I’ve also seen battery tests where this one last more then a day, but that was on the non-LTE models, as we all know LTE is a battery hog. It’ll be interesting to see how great the battery is on AT&T’s Galaxy Note seeing as that one will be LTE. I don’t have anything against the Galaxy Note, I actually really like that big screen, but I think the Droid Razr Maxx is a better choice

Future of Batteries?

Droid Razr Maxx Battery Life - From Droid-Life

Hopefully in the near future (I’m hoping this year) we will see a lot of the phones released with bigger batteries like the Droid Razr Maxx and the Galaxy Note. Phones that typically have a battery that is under 2000mAh are hurting in the battery life department, and as phones become more powerful, the battery life continues to get worse. I am really hoping manufacturers will get away from the thinness trend and go to the Maxx trend (bigger batteries) even if they are non-removable. Think about it, why do you need to remove a battery that is 3300mAh or larger?

Yes, we all have battery saver apps out there like Juice Defender, but what they are really doing is limiting the functionality and performance of your device. You bought an Android device for the freedom, if you wanted to be limited you would have gone to the Apple store to pick up an iPhone right? Also what most people don’t realize are those battery saver apps actually use up your battery trying to save battery life, kind of redundant right?

I am at the point now where if the OEM battery isn’t 2500mAh or higher, I will not be looking to get that device. I’m tired of having to spend extra money on an extended battery which usually makes your phone much thicker and quite a bit uglier. So, currently that would leave me with two choices, the Droid Razr Maxx and the Galaxy Note (Galaxy Journal for CDMA).

And how about you? Would you be willing to let go of a bit of thinness for an ultra powerful device that has the juice to make it through, and then some? Hit us up in the comments and let us know! The manufacturers are watching!

  • Anonymous

    I agree. Motorola should’ve released the Razr Maxx instead of the Razr. It appears that they did this for the sole purpose of bragging righs of having the thinnest device. Then they turn around and release the Maxx effectively making the Razr not obsolete but less attractive. I’d rather have a longer battery life than a super thin device. I’d like to see the major manufacturers follow this trend Moto started, without the incremental update. Just release devices with big batteries and stop the thiness wars, because they’re not really pushing any new design standards are anything innovative with the thiness. Battery life is much more important to the average user I’m willing to bet.

    • Very nice reply. But, we wouldn’t have the lovely colors…. Of course it is not important to me, but a Razr Maxx in white I would buy…

  • Dmwhittley

    I hope the all the OEM’s read AndroidAuthority I really do. It suprises me that there are no third party companies making backs to the popular brands with larger batteries attached. I’ve seen one somewhere if i recall correctly.
    We should start a petition demanding 9mm phones with 24+hour life.

    • Agreed. We shall call it “Light by can still kick ass” movement. Haha…. Anyway, nice post Alex.

    • Mychy

      but have you read the articles about huawei ascend p1 and p1s?
      i guess thats what you meant.

  • Anonymous

    The HTC Sensation is 11.3mm thick WITHOUT its case and its too thin for me. Without the case I have on it feels like a well worn and used bar of soap that I’m about to drop all the time. The case gives it added thickness and weight so that it feels more secure. Without it I honestly think its too thin. And compared with other devices its considered to be on the thick side!

  • Rob Little

    To be honest, since I’ve not found a phone whatever thickness that doesn’t need charging every day, it’s a non-issue. 7 and 8mm phones still achieve that happily with reasonable daily use, and I’d much rather have a thin phone. Thinness IS important no matter what you think – it’s key to making larger screens widely accepted (in conjunction with reduced weight of course) and the majority of people will be used to having to charge their phone once a day already anyway.

    • I don’t mind charging it everyday, it’s the fact that it only last less then 10 hours. That is a big problem, especially with how busy I am.

      • Rob Little

        hm, well, that’s not a problem with the thinness per se… my 8mm S2 happily lasts much longer than 10 hours (19 easily), and that’s with me using it constantly throughout the day…

        • But no LTE right? Mine can last a good 18 hours on 3G but its so slow where I am, so I always use 4G LTE on my Bionic.

          • Rob Little

            I’m in the UK, so I have to put up with 21Mbps HSPA+ :-)

          • Yeah most of the LTE phones here in the US, except the Droid Razr Maxx, only last about 6-8 hours on LTE if you actually use your phone.

          • Yes. Honestly I loved to reply just to keep the reply chain going, and plus give Alex a few comments… but yeah battery seems like a missing factor in the majority of LTE phones nowadays…. What happened to the love?!

  • Anonymous

    I disagree. And battery life is more important despite what YOU think. You wouldnt have to charge it at least once a day if they put larger batteries in them. Anything from 8mm-10mm is fine on the thiness. We’ve achieved that with several different devices. They can now concentrate on better batteries. Its not going away.

    • Rob Little

      is that directed at me? I didn’t say “at least once a day”, that would be silly. At MOST once a day. Between one and two days is about the most you can expect if you’re actually using the phone, surely, in which case people are going to charge it once a day anyway.

      no-one’s saying battery life isn’t important, but the point is that you can have thin AND meet people’s expectations of battery life – and that making it fatter won’t necessarily help people

      • Clell

        I don’t think they necessarily have to make them fatter and ugly either. The Droid RazrMaxx is thinner than my device with a larger battery in it. I do think we can have both form factor and the larger battery too. But if I were forced to choose I would rather have the larger battery. I just think we’ve reached a threshold as far as thinness goes. There comes a point to where you get diminishing returns for it and I believe we’re getting close to that area. Because the battery is only going to be able to be so large in such a thin form factor.

  • shane muffat

    I’m in the same boat…I had an iphone 4. I purchased a skyrocket and had abysmal battery life although I LOVED everything else about the phone. I returned it and went back to my iphone as much as I hated to. I’m waiting until a decent android phone with LTE on ATT does something similiar to the razr maxx until I get back into android. I’m waiting……

  • MrIanF


    Well written Alexander.

    I love my thin, svelte Samsung Galxy II.
    But I would happily give away a millimetre of thickness for a better battery. I hate ALWAYS having to worry about my phone dieing.
    I was actually disappointed when I saw that Samsung had made the S III even thinner.

    Remember the good old Nokia days where these things ran for a week ??

    • Thank you for the kind words. I actually don’t remember the nokia days, I’ve only been around for the Android, blackberry and iPhone days lol

  • Gregory Opera

    As a user of the Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY (“PlayStation phone”), I would gladly continue to use it if the battery was 2-3 times its current size and gave me longer usage times… Sure the Xperia PLAY (“PlayStation phone”) has above-average usage times already, but there’s no reason I shouldn’t be able to get AT LEAST a full day of heavy use (this is even more true when you stop to consider that the Xperia PLAY (“PlayStation phone”) is designed to be a gaming-specific smartphone…)!

    • Rob Little

      Obiously the Xperia Play is a bit of a special case – it’s such a fat phone in today’s world, and that has most definitely put a lot of people off already. It’s the only thing that’s stopped it being truly successful, so it would be hard to make it EVEN bigger

  • Raj Kumar Sharma

    Well said Mr. Darcy, phones are getting ridiculously thin as if the makers are competing with Gillette. When the news of 3300mAh battery came, I was thrilled. Romance with lugging a 3300mAh battery in a smart phone is just the sheeer guts of only a high horse like Motorola.The maximum power of a battery ever used in notebooks has been 6000mAh . So I visualize that 3300mAh batteries are the most awesome stuff at the moment.

  • Anonymous

    I recently read a review in engadget.com about the HTC Amaze where the reviewer was put off by the thickness of the phone. Maybe when tech reviewers stop this stupid “thinness” demands from the magnufacturers we can have long lasting devices. It is just dumb design-wise and otherwise to continue building this power hungry devices and then stick a puny batteries in them. Tell these reviewers to get real and get practical.

    • I really don’t mind the thickness of a phone, as long as it’s not super thick where it can’t fit in your pocket. But having a 7mm thick device with less than a 2000mAh battery? You’ll need to bring your charger too.

  • Turtle1979

    I would be happy to give up thin, to have more power.

  • Anonymous

    other THAN saying “my phone is thinner THAN yours”…js

  • Mychy

    yes i often thought so too. Few years ago a phone-battery had to last 3 days or more. And now we are happy if it brings us through the day. Is it eve noticeable if the phone is 3mm bigger? I like thin phones, it feels better to hold them, but 1day more battery feels much better! :)

  • marie

    Quote: “What is the first accessory you buy when you get a new device? For me, and most other people it’s an extended battery…”

    That’s why the manufacturers are putting the smaller capacity batteries in as standard equipment. Because then they can sell a phone AND an upgrade.

    • Rob Little

      certainly not the case here – it’s actually virtually impossible to even get extended batteries here. I don’t know anyone who has one. Again, I think it’s a US phenomenon.