One of the chief differentiators with the Samsung Galaxy S 4 versus other current flagship Android devices is the continued support for user-replaceable batteries. Although removable batteries are becoming increasingly scarce as industrial designers prioritize aesthetics and thinner profiles, being able to swap batteries or substitute in a larger one is still an added convenience if you absolutely need it.

I’ve been carrying the Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Play edition (henceforth SGS4 GPe) alongside the HTC One GPe since getting the two devices, and while I have a Mophie Juice Pack for the HTC One, I didn’t really have a bigger battery solution for the SGS4 GPe. Probably my biggest use case for extended batteries is when I’m traveling, where having a bigger battery often is the difference between being able to relax and searching for an outlet in a terminal. When I saw the ZeroLemon 7500 mAh battery mentioned on Reddit’s r/android and instantly knew I wanted to give it a try and put it through our battery life and charge test routine.

First, the ZeroLemon 7500 mAh battery is considerably bigger than the stock SGS4 battery, which came in at 2600 mAh. Both are 3.8V nominal chemistries, so that works out to 28.5 Whr for the ZeroLemon, and 9.88 for the stock one, a scaling of 2.88 in battery capacity. Because energy density doesn’t change between the two (fundamentally it’s still the same 3.8V Lithium-Ion polymer), the extended battery achieves its larger capacity by increasing volume. As always, this is the tradeoff that industrial designers have to make – increasing battery capacity at present necessitates more volume dedicated to it.

The extended battery is really two pieces. The first is shaped like the stock battery and fits inside the housing, the second seems to be two larger cells above it which protrude from the back of the SGS4. As a result, the extended battery requires a different kind of battery cover entirely.

The ZeroLemon’s battery cover isn’t so much a door as it is a rubberized case that fits on and wraps around the SGS4. It covers the volume rocker and power buttons, and imparts a somewhat squishy feel to them. There are also holes for the microphone, headphone jack, IR Tx/Rx port, and at the bottom microUSB and speakers. The rear facing speaker on the SGS4 gets covered up somewhat, although sound still leaks between the battery and chassis and out the grille at the bottom. The far bottom of the battery does somewhat occlude the lower primary Tx/Rx antenna on the SGS4, although I haven’t seen a dramatic change in RF performance.

Obviously the weight and size of the SGS4 changes with the case and extended battery installed, the question is how much. The tradeoff with the bigger battery is that the SGS4 gets considerably bigger, but not unwieldy so. It’s a big phone for sure though.

Samsung Galaxy S 4 Extended Battery
Battery Stock 2600 ZeroLemon 7500 mAh
SGS4 Thickness With Door 7.94 mm 17.0 mm
Battery Mass 43.5 grams 132.3 grams

I ran our normal smartphone battery life test suite on the SGS4 GPe with the big battery installed. This is the same test we’ve run for a while now with the display set to 200 nits exactly and loading through a number of pages on a schedule, over both WiFi and cellular (in this case for consistency with the previous GPe test, still T-Mobile LTE). Obviously the results speak for themselves here, runtime with the big 2.8x size battery is huge.

AT Smartphone Bench 2013: Web Browsing Battery Life (3G/4G LTE)
 
AT Smartphone Bench 2013: Web Browsing Battery Life (WiFi)

On the cellular test, we see a 2.7x scaling, very close to the expected 2.8x scaling given the increase in battery. On the WiFi test, we see just over 3x scaling, even better. I previously had no issues getting through a day with the stock SGS4 battery, I’d expect with the nearly 3x scaling you could possibly get 3 days of use out of this combo.

Device Charge Time - 0 to 100 Percent

The other tradeoff is of course an increase in charge time. Samsung is in a better position here thanks to the availability of 2 Amp (10 watt) charging using their supplied charger which includes proprietary 1.2V signaling on D+/D- pins. Unsurprisingly charge time goes up as well with the ZeroLemon, and even with that Samsung 2 Amp charger, it takes 7.5 hours to charge the ZeroLemon battery from completely empty. With this much charge time, it’s clear to me that without increased charging current this is effectively the maximum practical battery size for the SGS4, given the expectation that you can plug your phone in dead when you go to sleep and wake up with it fully charged (and sleep 8 hours a night). If you use the wrong charger (USB BC 1.2 compliant), a full charge could take just over 12 hours given this same scaling.

If you’re willing to make the size and weight tradeoff and want an absolutely huge extended battery for the SGS4, the ZeroLemon 7500 mAh battery seems like a pretty good choice.

Source: ZeroLemon (Amazon)

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  • Stpatr3k - Friday, April 18, 2014 - link

    It works both ways, thinking battery swap is better is the same as commenting cover creak on battery swaps, but yeah they do loosen up because wear & tear.

    Ive done both, battery swap & this zerolemon. Both are ok. It's surprising how easy it is to adjust to the weight & the convenience of not swapping 3 full batteries while driving and still being able to swap after that.

    You can do 6 hours with continous mobile data, gps, screen (waze) and wifi hotspot on.

    It would be perfect to get the samsung spare battery with charger just for the charger for this badboy.
    Reply
  • shaolin95 - Wednesday, July 31, 2013 - link

    Denial? No...you are full of BS? YES! Reply
  • jasonelmore - Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - link

    nah, it'll wear it out sooner or later. Reply
  • soydeedo - Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - link

    And it's pretty challenging to choose a replacement: http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_trksid=p2050601.m5... Reply
  • djshortsleeve - Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - link

    I disagree. I swapped batteries on my old HTC Droid Incredible. That phone is extremely chincy compared to the galaxy. The fit never changed over the course of over 1.5 years. The drain of the chinese replacement batteries, however, did change. Reply
  • flyingpants1 - Tuesday, July 23, 2013 - link

    Nope. This battery gives you 3x capacity. Charging time does not matter, 90% of people charge while they are asleep, like Brian says in the article. If you need to do an emergency charge somewhere (let's say you forget to charge overnight 3 days in a row), you get the same amount of amp-hours from charging the Zerolemon battery for 25 minutes as you do the normal SGS4 battery. So, no drawbacks from charging.

    This 3x battery is $40 from Amazon and it includes a case. This makes it almost the best deal out of any cell phone accessory I've ever seen.

    That being said, if you don't want a bulky phone, and like using a case that actually protects the phone (Otterbox-like), a recharger is a better option.
    Reply
  • Death666Angel - Tuesday, July 23, 2013 - link

    Speak for yourself. I find it easier to carry around 1 item (that still fits in my pants pockets where my smartphone usually is) than carry around 3 like you suggest.
    @ Sherlockwing: You should separate the link and your sentence punctuation in the future. :P Clicking it doesn't work for me, I have to copy/paste it without the point at the end.
    And the charging time is irrelevant, it charges as fast as the normal battery in his test. Faster even, going by the limited numbers we have (2.88 times increase in capacity, 2.61 times increase in charging time). If I were to travel more than I do, I'd get this thing in a heartbeat.
    Reply
  • sherlockwing - Tuesday, July 23, 2013 - link

    The difference is that with two battery (one in phone and one spare) you can charge both battery at the same time, thus you can charge twice as fast. Reply
  • jiffylube1024 - Tuesday, July 23, 2013 - link

    Don't you sleep at night? If the phone gives you 14 hrs of screen time, and takes 7.5 hrs to charge, that aligns pretty well with the usual human sleep cycle of 6-9 hours. Reply
  • beginner99 - Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - link

    Agree. This extra battery makes the phone way to bulky and heavy. I mean I think 5" phones are to big already without extra battery. Of course if you are hip hopper with huge pocket it might work for you but never ever forget to tighten that belt or you will literally get caught with your pants down...oh no, they are already down anyway... Reply

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