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Smartphone and Battery Have Become Inseparable

Samsung_power_lIt wasn’t long ago that Samsung’s commercials documented the plight of power-deprived, wall-hugging iPhone users on the constant hunt for an electric outlet while their contemporaries snapped in a spare battery and lived uninterrupted. Galaxy S5 users didn’t need to forage for power — a feature Samsung attempted to build into a key selling point.

Less than a year after that marketing drive, the interchangeable battery is fading fast. Samsung introduced its latest flagship, the Galaxy S6, a week ago. The Galaxy S6 and S6 edge join the HTC One M9, Huawei Ascend P7, the Sony Xperia Z3, Xiaomi’s Mi 4 and other leading smartphones with non-removable batteries.

The drive toward thin and robust devices has superseded the advantages of pop-out batteries. Apple recognised the benefits of embedded power packs from the start — a controversial decision at the time that has now set the standard. CCS Insight believes the battery debate has reached a conclusion, and that most smartphone manufacturers will make the move to embedded batteries in the coming years. Most users in developed markets replace their smartphones every two years, providing them with a fresh device that has a healthy battery.

We believe that concerns of “wall hugging” are countered by the availability of portable chargers. They’ve become an essential accessory for many mobile users, and smartphone manufacturers should look at the products to boost margins, user experience and their brand. Portable chargers have become the second battery.

As phones get more sensors, pixels and inches, battery life is becoming a saleable feature despite marginal advantages to removable batteries and back covers (see Daily Insight: Samsung’s Power Play). The fix is in. The external battery is the new replaceable.

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