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Once upon a time I became part of the mobile revolution. Faster, stronger, more powerful phones were where it was at. I could now browse the internet as if I was on a computer! That in itself made me much more active on review sites as I could now read and rate on the go. And then I noticed that the battery life of these little machines we carry round with us hadn't quite been keeping up with the leaps and bounds made in all the other aspects of the techno-progress. Battery life soon became my main complaint about every single smart phone I've come up against.
Not too long ago someone mentioned that Samsung were trying to make a battery with a larger capacity to fit their phones. It was probably Allan since he is the source of most of my little tid-bits of tech-knowledge. As such I decided rather than having to plug my phone in at work I'd quite like to see if I can't get my hands on one of these magical new batteries. After a lot of googling I found out that the normal size batteries for the Samsung Galaxy S3 were classed as 3.8v, 2100mAh (mAh being the abbreviation for milliampere-hour: a little dribble of my high school physics came tumbling back there) so I knew then I would be best to look for something that had a larger capacity than that. Off to a flying start then!
Trundling myself directly onto e-bay and Amazon I discovered 3.7v, 4300 mAh batteries. That's more than double what I currently had! I also discovered that these batteries were mostly coming in quite expensive. That was till I found one for £6.99. It also came with a new back case for the phone which told me that the battery was not just a larger capacity but that it was a bit bigger in size than the one the phone already had. But what the hay, I went for it anyway and got one for Allan just in case they turned out to be a good product.
At the time I ordered mine the website decided to tell me that the only ones they had were in white. I figured since I use a rubber protective cover on my phone it wouldn't matter as the back would be covered over anyway. Having had another look today on a different computer, it would seem they do actually do them in the blue that matches my phone too for £7.99, so I was a little miffed when I saw that.
===Give it a week===
So, after about 7 days I received the battery through the post. They had been marked as a gift on the customs slip and sent from china. Oh dear. It was almost instantly clear that these had not been manufactured by Samsung themselves but that didn't put me off. Onwards I bashed and opened the package to find my two new batteries and cases in a clear sealed plastic envelope. I picked it up and... wow... it was heavy. In fact, the battery and the new case in one hand it felt as heavy as my phone, its battery, case and protective rubber cover in the other hand. I decided that I needed to get my scales out and compare.
My phone with its normal battery and the protective cover came in at 153g. I was happy to see that my phone had not put on weight since the last time I weighed it for another review. Clearly it is leading a healthy and pure lifestyle. Ahem. For proper comparison sakes, I also weighed the normal battery and the backing case without the rest of the phone. The normal battery came in at 38g, while the normal backing case came in at a miniscule 8g. The protective rubber cover I use is 22g of rubbery goodness meaning that the phone without the battery and case on is a tiny 85g
Time to whip out the new bad-boy battery. Next to the normal battery there is an obvious size difference. It's about twice as thick as the normal one. It reminds me of batteries of old. As for the weights, the new larger battery on its own came in at 70g and the new case came in at a whopping 13g. While not the same as the S3 and protective case in its entirety the components are much heavier. The new battery and case are only 2g lighter than the phone it sits in. My next surprise came when I went to plug it all into place.
===I hate big butts and I cannot lie===
The battery fitted into the slot perfectly and securely. It did, however, stick out a LOT further than the original battery did. This is why you need a new case with the thing. After I clicked the new backing case into place I was horrified. The phone was almost three times thicker than it had been with this new case. Not only that but the cover doesn't flow with the curve of the phone so ends up looking like your phone has developed a terrible deformed hump on its back. The cover rises out so far that the holes for the camera, LED light and speaker on the back look almost as big as belly-buttons. Horrid, ugly, plastic belly buttons. The weight of the battery with the weight of the rest of the phone leaves you holding a chunky handset that is quite clunky to get used to. All together the phone now weighs 168g which is a whole 15g more than its usual weight. Blech. Go away chubby phone!
I'm not quite sure the shape of the case was fully tested and considered when they made it. While it needs to come out as far as it does to encase the new, thicker battery, the curve makes the phone slightly unbalanced. I don't know about yourself, but when I'm at work I have my phone sat on my desk. If I need to turn it on to check something I don't pick it up, I simply push the button to turn it on and leave the phone on its back. The S3 has a physical push button at the bottom of the phone right in the middle that turns the phone on and also takes you back to your desktop when you want to. As such I use this button quite a lot to navigate around the phone. The first time I went to use it at work with the new battery in, I got quite a fright as the whole phone lunged up from the desk at me. The new shape of the case means that pushing this button while the phone is flat levers the rest of the phone into the air. As such you can either stop using your phone flat (which isn't an option for me at work as if I'm seen actually picking my phone up someone will complain) or not using the middle button which would make your phone experience quite time consuming and annoying.
There is a third option. Rather than using one finger, you could spin your hand round and put your other fingers on the top of the phone to hold it down while your index finger pushes the button. Ok, so It's not the world's hardest manoeuvre, but it takes away the sleek, one fingered approach from using your phone. Given that you've already had to give up your slim-line, light weight phone to put this new battery in it, giving up yet another of the good features of the phone seems like one compromise too many.
===Ring the bells===
As if the new battery heard me complain about the push button being one compromise too many, it threw in another curve ball. Yay! I had consoled myself with the fact the big white case would be hidden by my rubber protective casing. What's that you say? The rubber case doesn't fit? Oh. Bugger. First and foremost this means that I am no longer OK with the cover being white. I really does look like the Quasimodo of the phone world. My house phone actually looks sexier at this point and house phones are known for being ugly looking bricks.
The second problem here is that my phone no longer has a protective cover on it. If I drop it, it's open to the elements. The new chunky back case is already starting to look dirty and scratched after a few days. This makes me a sad techy. It's another horrible compromise that I'm not sure I can justify.
===Hard knock life===
Now that all the aesthetic and handling problems are out of the way, I needed to see how long the battery would actually last. As there were no instructions with the battery I didn't really know what I would be best to do with it. It comes with around 60% battery life already charged. When I got my S3 the battery came with the same percentage of charge and the advice that was given was to let the battery run out fully and then give it a full charge so that's what I went with. Unfortunately for me I discovered when doing this review and reading over the product description again that the manufacturers recommend a full 10 hour charge session before you use the battery, effectively knocking your phone out of commission for day. What the actual!
My old battery would last me from waking up in the morning at 8 till just before the end of my shift, around 17:30 meaning the battery lasts 9.5 hours roughly. Sometimes it lasts less time (usually to just before my last break of the day at 16:45 so about closer to 9 hours) depending on how furiously I have been browsing throughout the day.
By the time I decided to test the staying power the next day, I had been played around with the phone so by the time I got it to work the day after the battery was sitting at 36%. Two hours into my shift it was sitting at 31%. Mathematically, that would suggest that the phone will last over 12 hours on this charge. And if that is the case that would mean at full charge it would last 40 hours. Holy moly. That's a lot of battery right there. At lunch time (4.5 hours into my shift) the charge was 23% which would suggest my maths was slightly out but not much and by the end of my shift (8.5 hours) the charge was sitting at 10% which keeps up my theory. In fact the battery lasted till I went to bed at half ten (another 4.5 hours). Even then, it wasn't fully out, going strong at 2% battery. So essentially this battery at 36% capacity lasted about five hours longer than my normal battery at full charge would. That would suggest this battery could last a good few days before needing charged with moderate to heavy use. That's fantastic!
Needless to say it's quite obvious this battery offers a helluva lot more play time than my current slimline sexy battery does. The only slightly annoying thing is that the phone is set to tell you the battery is low at 15%. While on my old battery that was useful as 15% would mean you really don't have a lot of time left before you need to plug in, 15% on this battery is still plenty of play time. I've tried to change the notifications but unfortunately there doesn't seem to be an option to do so.
Knowing that it takes so long to discharge is a good thing. So how long does it take to fully charge? After letting it run out fully, I plugged it in at the mains at 18:30. When I checked a couple of times over the next hour or two but it was finally fully charged around 22:30. As I expected, it does take a little longer to charge than my normal battery, in fact, almost double the time but you can't really blame it since it is more than double the time. Also, I charge overnight so this is not a real issue for me. If you don't have four hours then you could probably still get away with only half charging since it will last as long as a full charge on a normal sized battery.
The only real issue I have with charging is that you really shouldn't charge your battery until it's dead. With my original battery that's easy. It lasts me a day. I plug it in at bed time and it is fully charged by the time I wake up in the morning. With this one, it lasts more than a day so you have to go to bed with it not plugged in while you wait on it dissipating. This could leave you either running out of charge during the night which is a dire situation to find yourself in if you use your phone as your morning alarm clock like I do. It could also mean that every couple of days you'll be out and about and be caught short. At least with the normal battery you know you can plug it in at night every night and have it last you the day. Did I really just complain that it lasts too long? I think I did. Oh god.
After all that negativity, let's look at things from a slightly different angle. It's a phone, who cares what it looks like? It still fits in your pocket easily and really isn't THAT heavy in the long run. The longer charge would probably come in handy for those people who CAN'T access a plug socket straight away. For example, it might be great to plug this battery in if you are travelling. How many times have you had to turn your phone off to conserve energy on a long bus trip or train journey? My 48 hour trip to America a few years back would have been much more entertaining if I had something (external) that I could play with for more than 8 hours of it. My friend is currently wandering round Sri-Lanka at the moment. I would imagine she'd love a battery that lasted two days. Since posting this review originally, we have been to Rhodes and decided to take both of the batteries with us which allowed Allan to happily watch his own choice of films on the plane. It lasted well into the next day even after watching a complete film on it. We also used the phone pretty much all day on Sat-Nav while we were there as we walked around a LOT and were using the map features on the phone to find our way around and know when to get off the local busses etc. It was, I admit, an absolute god send in this situation.
As with most electrical objects, it does come with a few pictorial warnings on the battery. I wonder if I can decipher them? Firstly we have a hammer with a line through it. I assume this means don't use your battery as a hammer. Or perhaps don't whack it with one. Though now I'm wondering what would happen if you did.
Next up, a screwdriver with a line through it. No using it as a screwdriver then. Or no tampering with it to get inside. Are they hiding something in the battery they don't want me to see?
The next one is either a child with a tuft of hair OR it is Harry Potter with his lightning scar. There is a line through it whatever it is. Obviously wizards cannot touch this battery or their magic will die. Children should probably not eat it either or they will die. Probably.
Symbol number four is a bin with a cross through it. The battery fears rejection and does not wish you to throw it in the bin for it to lead a sad, woeful battery life in the garbage. That and you shouldn't put batteries in your bin anyway as a garbage truck may have a similar effect to a hammer (whatever that is) when it crushes it.
Fifth there is a little thermometer with 60 degrees C written above it and 140F written below it. I'd have thought it means try not to over heat the battery no matter what temperature measurements you use. More than 60 degrees and it may flip out on you. I will not be roasting the battery to find out.
The little circle next to it is a fire with a line through it. Obviously the battery doesn't like camping. Can you blame it? All cold and stiff on the ground of some damp tent. Urgh! I'd have thought that the temperature gauge next to this circle already covered the fact you should burn this, unless some people don't realise that fire is hotter than 60 degrees at the best of times.
The next two symbols finally tell us something we can do. The first one is the recycle symbol, the next one... well I don't know what it is. It's four arrows pointing outward from a central point. What does that even mean?! Even google can't seem to help me on this one. Your guess is as good as mine! And that, my friend, is that.
===Hey, Short stuff===
All of that being said, let's lay it out simply!
Huge battery life
Huge back case
Doesn't fit in protective cases
10 hour initial charge recommended!!
Leaves you unsure when you'll need to charge
Makes use of bottom button difficult on desks when laid flat.
This one is a difficult one. The product does exactly what it is supposed to do. But it does it at the cost of the aesthetics and the use of the phone. Let's face it, you don't go out and get an S3 if you don't want a good looking phone. There are plenty bulky ugly phones out there that will function relatively well while not looking half as good. This battery turns your phone into an ugly thing, growing and groaning before your eyes. It hurts. The battery life, however, is massive. It comes with no more frustration at running out of battery at the end of the day. It also comes with an elongated charging time. I am taking a star off for the looks. I'm taking a star off for the weight. I'm taking a star off for not being able to use my bottom button and I'm taking a star off for it not fitting any protective casings. I will add a star back on for the length of the battery life and a star for the low price. Am I being mean? I'm unsure. It has its uses for travelling but right now, I don't see it being a valid solution to battery life issues of everyday use for smart-phones. Either way, currently I'm giving it three stars and saying it might be handy to have kicking about for emergencies, but you won't want to use it all the time.