Why most smartphones no longer have removable batteries

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Until the early 2010s, it was normal for phones to have removable batteries. However, as the iPhone with its non-removable battery became more and more popular, more and more manufacturers followed suit.

Eventually, even laptop manufacturers stopped making removable battery devices. But why is this so? And is this a good thing for us consumers? Inquiry below.

Why non-removable batteries have become necessary

As consumers demanded more sophisticated smartphones, manufacturers had no choice but to make sacrifices to keep up with the latest trends. This is because these light and thin all screen designs have become commercial hits, allowing companies to make more money for their investors.

Let’s take a look at some of the features that smartphones now come with that required the non-removable battery.

Lighter and thinner designs



iPhone 13 mini compared to a credit card

Despite all the development of battery technology, batteries are still inherently dangerous. This is because they store energy between the cathode and anode electrodes, separated by a thin electrolyte.

If these electrodes come into direct contact in some way, it will cause a short circuit and generate a lot of heat. This condition, in turn, would create even more heat leading to an uncontrollable thermal reaction and could cause the battery to explode or explode.

For this reason, a removable battery needs a hard plastic casing to prevent accidental damage, especially when not connected to a phone. This type of case adds to the bulk and weight of a smartphone. So when consumers wanted a slimmer, lighter design, one solution the engineers came up with was to install a permanent battery.

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Making sure you couldn’t remove the battery, engineers made the case and chassis of the smartphone serve as protection instead.

Related: Is Fast Charging Bad For Batteries?

Best battery technology



100W GaN fast charger

The introduction of lithium-ion and lithium-polymer batteries made smartphones last longer on a single charge. So, despite the increased battery consumption of more powerful chips and better displays, the simultaneous development of material and battery capacity has made smartphones last all day.

This increased capacity means that users no longer need a spare battery to swap it out in the middle of the day. Additionally, advances in charging technology mean that batteries can now go from empty to full in under an hour.

And for users who need to charge on the go, smartphone and smartphone accessory makers offer power banks that will let you charge your device, even when you’re away from the outlet. These devices range from small single-charge power banks to large 20,000mAh devices that could power your smartphone all week.

Protection against ingress



smartphone in running water protected by its IP rating

As smartphones have gotten more expensive, with flagship devices hitting four-digit prices, consumers have demanded that they last longer and have more rugged protection. After all, if you’re paying a month’s salary for a phone, it has to withstand everyday wear and tear, including accidental waterfall protection.

That’s why smartphone makers have beefed up their devices by sealing the outer casing. But when they sealed the phone, users lost access to the replaceable batteries.

In addition, it is difficult to create a thin and light device with a closed outer casing. If you look at waterproof cameras, you’ll see that it has a thick battery cover secured with thick rubber gaskets. If you apply the same solution to a smartphone, you can say goodbye to its small pocket size.

Continuous monitoring



try to locate a phone using a map

Another side effect of increasing phone prices is its increased appeal, especially among thieves. After all, these devices are very mobile, so they are easy to steal and resell. In addition, smartphones now contain a lot of highly sensitive personal data, allowing bad actors to steal more than your hardware, but even your financial information.

That’s why many smartphone manufacturers now allow passive device tracking, even if you turn off your phone. This feature allows you to track your device and acts as a deterrent against smartphone theft.

However, removing the battery from the smartphone removes its power source, thus killing its tracking ability. Keeping the batteries sealed inside your phone case makes removing them almost impossible without equipment and expertise, so you can keep track of it even when you’ve turned it off.

The disadvantages of having a non-removable battery

Despite all the benefits that non-removable batteries give us, we still lose some functionality and functionality with them. Here are a few.

More exchanges



disassembled cell phone showing its removable battery

If you’re the type who spends days or weeks in nature or a frequent traveler who spends days traveling between countries, that means you’ll have limited access to charging stations.

If you have a phone with a replaceable battery, you’ll likely bring an extra spare battery or two for your device. But now that the batteries are basically permanent parts of your phone, you will need to bring a power bank.

Although power banks provide backup power for your devices, they take time to charge your phone, especially if they’re not the newer models. Even if you have the latest fast charging power bank and the latest smartphone, you still have to wait around 30 minutes to an hour for your phone to be fully charged.

Related: Are Public Smartphone Charging Stations Safe?

If you have a replaceable battery, replacing the empty battery with a fully charged battery will take a maximum of one minute. Plus, even the smallest to mid-size power banks are much bulkier than slim spare batteries, adding more weight and consuming more space in your bag.

Risk of bloating



swollen iPhone battery
Image Credit: Mpt-matthew / Wikimedia Commons

Despite advancements in battery technology, there is still a possibility that your smartphone’s battery will swell. When this happens, you should replace it as soon as possible because the safety of the battery is already compromised.

With a replaceable battery, removing the old swollen battery and installing a new one is a straightforward process. But since most smartphones have a permanent battery, now you need to take your device to an authorized service center for a replacement.

Moreover, when a permanent battery swells, it can also damage the external case and chassis of your phone. When a swollen battery forces the case to open, it can damage the screws and glue that hold it together and remove any ingress protection from your phone.

Bad for the right to redress



Man repairing iPhone

One of the biggest issues in the tech world today is the right to redress. And while permanent batteries give us sleek, modern devices, that doesn’t suit this movement. This is because permanent batteries make it difficult for third-party repair shops to fix broken phones, especially when the manufacturer uses glue and adhesives to permanently bond the battery to the phone chassis.

A removable battery is simply easier to repair. Unless smartphone makers develop ways to make it easier to remove batteries without requiring heat to melt the adhesive or tweezers to remove it, a permanent battery will remain difficult to repair.


Most consumers don’t want removable batteries

While some publicly complain about the lack of removable batteries, the truth is that most consumers are happy with the current arrangement. After all, smartphone makers don’t add or remove features just for the fun of it – these changes go through months, if not years, of study and consultation.

In addition, it is our wallets that speak. Despite the loss of features like removable battery and headphone jack, we still buy these devices. In fact, sales of these models have even increased. For many users, losing the removable battery is a small price to pay in exchange for features like thinner form factors and IP ratings.

So, is the loss of the removable good for the users? For most of us, apparently, it is.


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