We had the first cell phone in our hands back in 1973. Dr Martin Cooper invented the first portable handset and he was also the first person to make the first cell phone call. So how was the first prototype of cellular phone? You will be surprised to know that it was far from looking like today’s smartphones. Would you believe that it only allowed 30 minutes of talk time and it took nearly 10 hours to recharge it? I know it’s hard to believe! But this is the truth. So what about now? Can you tell me how much a battery can survive without getting charged? I won’t mention the name for its being a Chinese handset (Non Brand) but i will definitely tell you how much it survives with out getting recharged. This battery that allows you a standby time of About 666 days and a huge talk time of about 3-5 days. Can you imagine that! So how was it possible to come so far, starting from a talk time of 35 minutes? And what will be the future of the cell phone battery if it goes on like this?
From first generation to the latest generations, manufacturers have always tried to give the users a longer talk time and a shorter recharge time. For this purpose they did years of research and experiments. I will try to focus on the main 4 types of the cellphone batteries.
Nickel Cadmium Cell Phone Batteries
The Nickel Cadmium Batteries or NiCD in short were very popular in the late 80′s and early 90′s. They were great for their time and served the people with great facilities. But it had some problems that took developers back to the drawing board. The main problem was its being heavy and large. This subsequently increased the cellphone size. But the most disturbing fact was that it had the ‘Memory Effect’. “Memory effect” happens when rechargeable batteries are not fully discharged between charge cycles; as a result the battery “remembers” the shortened cycle and is thus reduced in capacity. So users have to empty the battery fully before recharging it .This caused the cell phone to be dead for sometimes. Another great problem was that it produced heat while using; causing great disturbance and with increasing charge-discharge cycles, it increased in size making it flabby. Finally the cadmium being a toxic product posed heath issues for the users and it was also difficult to dump after use.
Nickel Metal Hydride Batteries
Growing frustration among the users of the NiCD batteries caused the developers to think about an alternative to the NiCD batteries and the alternative they figured out was the Nickel Metal Hydride or in short NiMH. They were widely used in the late 90′s. For being made from the non-toxic materials it gained popularity and on the other hand it had the ‘memory effect’ to a much lesser extent. These two factors made it an ideal alternative for the NiCD batteries. They were also thinner and lighter than the NiCD and took less time to get charged and yielded much longer talk time. But it failed to solve the issue of the heat production and flabbiness of the batteries after repeated use. So the search for the ideal battery continued up until the lithium ion batteries came.
Lithium Ion Batteries
Lithium Ion batteries are the most popular batteries now. They are the thinnest and lightest among the three we have discussed so far. But it offers the longest talk time and it’s the most efficient battery while being recharged. Its recharge time is much shorter than the others and the use-recharge ratio is great. It is available in wide variety of shapes and sizes so they are efficiently fitted within the devices they power. It does not have any memory effect so it no longer needs to be emptied before recharging. It has the lowest percentage of self discharge rate being 5-10% per month, compared to over 30% per month in nickel metal hydride batteries and 10% per month in nickel-cadmium batteries. All the components are environmentally safe as there is no free lithium metal. Now the only drawback is that it’s being very expensive than the others.
Being the newest and most advanced in the battery technology the Li-Poly battery offers up to 40% more battery capacity than the NiMH battery of same size. Its ultra light weight making the smartphones lighter than ever. It’s also free of the memory effect. But they are rare and it’s far from getting used commonly.
So what’s waiting for us in the future? Will there be more amazing technologies in cell phone batteries. I am sure that there will be lots of advancements in this field in future. As you can see, there are even some devices that support accessories that can charge your device from solar power. You can also power up your device using external power source. So let’s see where it goes ultimately.