Samsung missed an opportunity with the S4’s extra battery kit
Samsung is one of fewer and fewer companies to actually make batteries in their phones removable, and it’s in my opinion a great feature to have. Heck, I just put in a brand new extended battery in my S II, replacing the one that has seen charges at least daily for the past 1.5 years. Being able to simply go to a local store and pick up a new battery for a reasonable price made it well worth it to refresh the battery in my phone, even if it hasn’t degraded too much in that time. Then, you have the added bonuses of being able to carry spare batteries.
While the extended battery isn’t available for the latest S-series phone, there is a spare battery kit. On top of not being larger than the original, the kit contains both an external charger and the battery, and is meant as a second battery rather than a replacement. A lot of thought seems to have gone into making the charger as small and portable as possible, acting as a storage case for the battery as well- contrary to a lot of external battery chargers that are designed to be stationary.
All in all it seems like a decent accessory, but also one that wastes a nice opportunity to improve the usability aspect a lot. For me at least, having to power down a phone to swap the batteries is the biggest reason why I would hate having two batteries. I don’t actually need a second battery to begin with, but if I had a phone that didn’t last through the day or used my phone too much for any phone to do so, I think I would actually prefer a bulky external battery pack over a spare battery, just to avoid having to power it down. So, why do you need to power down the phone to swap batteries?
Frankly, it doesn’t seem like it would take space technology to make batteries hot-swappable. If you look at that external battery charger, you wouldn’t have to make it much bigger to fit in a small internal battery in the charger itself, as well as a retractable charging connector. Then all you would need is to make the phone capable of having its battery removed while USB power is present (not sure if it does already), and you’d be set. Use the external charger as a carry case for the battery, and when you need to swap the batteries, use the charger’s internal mini-battery to power the phone just long enough to swap the batteries. As a bonus, the charger could tap into the spare battery and charge other devices if needed.
Samsung is obviously more about features for the average consumer than anything else, and in that regard, finger hovering and whatnot makes for better commercials than a smarter spare battery system. Still, I think such a feature would sell well to those who use spare batteries to begin with.