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Ask Slashdot: Where Can I Find Good Replacement Batteries? 131

Posted by Soulskill
from the they're-a-myth dept.
An anonymous reader writes: I have an old phone with a battery that barely works anymore. My current phone's battery is mediocre — I can put up with it, but I've been thinking about getting a new one. My four-year-old ThinkPad holds less of a charge than I'd like, and less than it did when I bought it. In all these cases, the only thing holding me back from buying a new battery is that I'm not sure where to find a good one. Searching for my phone's battery on Amazon (or any major online retailer) yields a dozen results, all fairly cheap. But which are reliable? They all seem to have varying reviews, ranging from "Perfect official factory replacement!" to "Garbage knock-off, worse than the battery I replaced." Part numbers don't seem to help, as the knock-offs replicate those pretty well. I ask you, Slashdot: where can I find a good replacement battery?
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Ask Slashdot: Where Can I Find Good Replacement Batteries?

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  • by aussersterne (212916) on Friday August 22, 2014 @05:16PM (#47733373) Homepage

    Anker products.

    As you note, the problem with batteries is there's just so much undifferentiable import crap. Lots of it has fancy packaging.

    Anker is no doubt trafficking in generics as well, but they do have their own design department (even goods like their Qi chargers that are made out of glass and metal have logos embedded in them and don't look like everyone else's generics) and when I posted a lukewarm review on Amazon ("Seems to work, nothing impressive, but good that it works.") about a phone battery, a rep with native English contacted me immediately and asked if there was anything they could do or offer to improve my experience from lukewarm to stellar.

    So that at least is indicative of a company that cares. Note that I don't work for Anker, but since that experience (the phone battery was my first purchase of their products) I've purchased a number of subsequent products and none of them performed more poorly than the original OEM equipment, so that's at least something in this world of mostly fake batteries.

  • by turp182 (1020263) on Friday August 22, 2014 @05:21PM (#47733397) Journal

    Amazon offers 30 day returns. If it fails fast they will take it back. Be wary of items they just fulfill, return policies vary (and Amazon has great service). Compare the manufacturers warranties, ask a question on the Amazon item pages.

    Read the most recent reviews. I've seen several "different item/different serial #" issues with Dell batteries. Items presented can change over time, they are mutable.

    Don't rush. You've been putting up with the performance you are seeing, you can take it another week or two.

    Anyway, that's how I buy batteries...

  • Crap Shoot (Score:5, Interesting)

    by zelbinion (442226) on Friday August 22, 2014 @05:23PM (#47733409)

    I just ran into this with my wife's Dell laptop. I tried an aftermarket battery at newegg that had some glowing reviews and some terrible reviews, but was cheap enough (about $35) that I was willing to give it a try. It sort of worked for about a month, and now won't charge at all. So, we wound up buying a replacement direct from Dell for $150. I also recently bought an aftermarket battery for an old Toshiba laptop, but it only lasts about 1.5 hours if I'm lucky. It was $15 from Amazon. I guess you get what you pay for. So, other than paying through the nose for a genuine battery from the manufacturer, I don't know where to get good quality laptop batteries anymore (it used to be you could find decent batteries at various places on line, but all I see is junk now...)

    On the other hand, I bought a new battery for my phone (an HTC) and got a battery made by a company called Anker. It works great and have had no problems with it. Bought several more for my wife's and my mother's phones, and they work well too. You can find Anker batteries on Amazon.

  • Rebuild? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22, 2014 @06:45PM (#47733805)

    Why not just rebuild your old battery pack? Easy. Be sure to buy nice japanese components.

  • by hamjudo (64140) on Friday August 22, 2014 @08:15PM (#47734233) Homepage Journal
    Sometimes the variations in reviews is due to variations in the product. Many years ago I worked in a brick and mortar store and resold electronics. I'd buy a small number of units from a supplier and test them. If they were good, I'd buy a bunch for resale. Assuming the customers didn't bring them back, I would buy more of the same, from the same vendor. Customers who were happy with units from the first few batches, were not at all happy with units from later batches.

    I dissected customer returns. Again and again, the products in later shipments looked identical on the outside, but were "cost reduced" on the inside. For example, I would see empty places on the circuit boards where the filter capacitors were supposed to go. In one batch of one product, many of the units were dead on arrival, on the ones that worked when I unpacked them, the solder joints only lasted a few weeks. Once opened, I could see that the boards were either soldered at the wrong temperature, it was the wrong type of solder, or badly made solder. Every connection was visibly a cold solder joint. Either the factory had no quality control, or they ignored the quality control.

    Other products looked identical inside and out, but based on the failure rate, the factory must have gotten a bad batch of one the components.

    Even longer ago, I worked on a product that logged data to a Compact Flash memory card. It was an embedded product that needed to work across a wide temperature range, including in the winter in Minnesota. The big names like SanDisk would randomly swap component suppliers. Our largest customer saw less than a 2% failure rate, but that was way too much. We found a specialty supplier that charged 5 times as much, but they had a rigorous quality control process. They paid attention to the specifications. They tracked where parts came from, and promised that we would be able to test sample units if they needed to switch suppliers. Alas, the 2% failure rate from the earlier parts had already doomed that product line.
  • by JWSmythe (446288) <jwsmythe AT jwsmythe DOT com> on Friday August 22, 2014 @09:23PM (#47734553) Homepage Journal

    Here's my experience. Buy something from eBay or Amazon.

    Well, we've bought a lot of batteries from various people I've been harvesting laptop batteries for the 18650 cells to put into phone recharging backs so we can play Ingress for effectively limitless hours, and for eCigarettes. That's given me a look inside them, and what condition the actual cells are. Leftovers, I sell to friends and friends-of-friends at cost.

    The recharge packs I have take 4 18650's, so if I get 2500mAhcells, I have a 10000mAh pack. I went with carriers that have a physical on/off switch, rather than the soft switch like the Anker has, so they can sit a long time without discharging. I haven't needed to change batteries on them yet.

    Generally, I buy from eBay. I'm looking for the higher cell counts, and aiming for about $1 to $1.50 per cell. So a 8 cell pack I want to spend $8 to $12 on.

    When I crack them open (always more work than it sounds) they all have the standard overheat sensors, which was the concern before about exploding batteries. They have all been wired well. Out of say a couple dozen packs, I received one that had a dented cell in it. It didn't hurt the performance of the cell, but since it was dented, I refused to use it or give it to anyone. Some of them, I've damaged the wrapper, so I re-shrink wrap if I'm in urgent need of them, or I dispose of them.

    Regardless if it says on the listing that it's an OEM or 3rd party pack, almost all of them have had no-name cells in them. I did get a few true Sony, Panasonic, or Sanyo cell, but they are rarer.

    They've all tested out to be the listed capacity, and they all have worked at the expected life expectancy.

    The only big exception was the battery for my old cell phone. It originally came with a 1400mAh battery. The only cheap seller listed 1600mAh for about $10/ea. I used them, and they were fine, but they only lasted as long as my original battery when it was new. When they finally started failing, I pealed the stickers off, and the original markings showed they were 1400mAh batteries. If I had been paying extra for the extra capacity, I may have been upset. Since I just needed batteries that worked, it didn't matter much.

    I played Ingress a *lot* with my phone though that period. That draws a lot of power, so I kept a couple spare batteries in my pocket all the time so I could swap them as needed.

    My new phone came with a much larger battery (part of my selection criteria), and I don't play as much. I let it charge in the car when I'm driving. If I'm walking, still carry the external pack, just in case I need it.

    So.. Pick something cheap on eBay. Look for listing saying they're "new". Don't expect a higher capacity batter to be any better than the original battery. Since you're looking for cheap, you can generally afford to get a spare. :)

Mediocrity finds safety in standardization. -- Frederick Crane

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