With so many cell phone batteries on the
market, how can you tell which one is right for you? Before making
any decisions, it helps to know a little history.
When cellular telephones gained widespread popularity in the
mid- to late-1980s, most models relied on nickel cadmium (NiCD)
batteries as their primary rechargeable power source. Relatively
inexpensive to produce, NiCd batteries were seen by manufacturers
as the best and cheapest alternative to traditional alkaline (source) and
lead acid batteries. NiCD batteries also enabled manufacturers
to offer a rechargeable product with a decent life expectancy.
But as consumers' usage of their cellular phones continued to
increase, so did the frequency with which they needed to recharge
their phones, which ultimately revealed one of the major drawbacks
of NiCD batteries. NiCD batteries must be fully charged and fully
discharged every time they are used, or their overall capacity
will become greatly diminished over time. Thus, if a NiCD battery
has only 10% of its charge remaining, for example, in the interest
of prolonging the battery life the consumer should continue to
use the battery until it dies rather than recharge it when it
gets low . This phenomenon is now infamously referred to as the
"memory effect," and is clearly a major inconvenience for anyone
who is on the go and wants quick access to his or her telephone
without having to worry about battery longevity.
To address this problem, wireless telephone manufacturers soon
began producing batteries that better met the needs of their customers.
One of the first such batteries was the nickel metal hydride battery
(NiMH). Offering better battery time and a higher resistance to
the memory effect, the NiMH battery is now the mainstay of most
cellular/PCS telephone manufacturers. The NiMH battery offers
good performance relative to its cost, although it is moderately
more expensive than batteries made of nickel cadmium.
Despite some manufacturers' claims that the NiMH battery is "memory
free" (not impacted by the memory effect), do not be fooled. Memory
resistant is probably a more accurate way to describe these batteries.
Occasionally (at least once a week), NiMH batteries DO need to
go through a full discharge/charge cycle if you want them to last.
The only real drawback of NiMH batteries is their tendency to
have "leakage" -- the propensity to lose charge while not being
used -- when in standby mode.
Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) batteries represent the third major category
of rechargeable power sources for wireless phones. Li-Ion batteries
are virtually unaffected by the memory effect, and are dramatically
lighter than NiCD or NiMH batteries. Often, Li-Ion battery can
offer twice the power of a similarly sized NiMH. The only real
disadvantage to this type of power source is price. Li-Ion batteries
are usually quite expensive, often priced two to three times higher
than other batteries.
With this background information in mind, here are two questions
you should consider in deciding on which battery to choose for
your wireless phone:
How much do you want to spend?
This is going to be one of the key decisions. While NiCD batteries
may currently be the least expensive, consider what it might
cost you down the road if it isn't charged/recharged properly.
Another, more expensive battery may end up lasting twice as
long, and saving you money in the long run.
What kinds of performance do you expect/need?
If you rarely use your telephone, you may be able to get away
with not buying the top of the line battery. A NiMH would
probably suffice for moderate use. If you use your wireless
phone more frequently, however, the Li-Ion may be your best
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