“Keep your friends close, your enemies closer, but your Mobile Phone Charger closest of all”
This is a saying from a wise old Android user. Today, we try and disprove it.
The Battery Conundrum is something that has continued to plague or smartphones for years. While we have made tremendous improvements in display technology, camera modules, more and more connectivity like NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, Glonass, WiFi N all being crammed into the device, battery technology isn’t much better than when you had a smartphone with a 300Mhz Processor and 2.4 inch display. This obviously means battery life takes a hit. One solution is to never stray from a charger, keep your brightness on its dimmest, disable GPS when not in use, ensure no wakelocks are sucking your battery, and basically spend the day nurturing your phone to survive. The other solution is, simply get a bigger battery!
This is where Mugen steps in. We have reviewed quite a few of their batteries earlier: the Galaxy S, to the Galaxy S II and recently the HTC One X‘s Battery Pack (no interchangeable battery on that one). A Hong Kong based company, Mugen is famously known as the brand that allows you a 5% discount if you follow them on Twitter! Today, we will be checking out the Extended Battery for the Galaxy Nexus.
While the Galaxy Nexus has a 1750mAh Stock Battery, which is not too bad, a typical heavy day will be sure to finish your phone battery by late afternoon. The Mugen Extended Battery is a whopping 4000mAh. To put some perspective, the DROID RAZR MAXX has a 3300mAh battery. The Galaxy Note 2 has a 3100mAh battery.
This 4000mAh giant of a battery is (obviously) thicker than the stock battery. In fact, it is quite a bit thicker than the official Samsung Extended Battery (2000mAh) too.
Here is a picture comparing (left to right) the Mugen Extended Battery, the Official Extended Battery, the stock Galaxy Nexus Battery and an unbranded Chinese Battery.
Ironically, the materials used in the Mugen back cover feel of better texture than the stock Samsung battery cover. This is plastic too, but is a less flexible, harder type of plastic.
There is the indent for the camera and flash modules, and interestingly, there is even a kickstand.
The kickstand is a piece of metal that is simply rotated outward. Unfortunately, the angle at which is lets you prop up your phone is not adjustable. Also, there is no lock to keep the stand in place, so if you accidentally touch your device when it is propped up, it can collapse on itself. Neverthless, a useful addition to have.
There are four plastic contacts on the inside of the cover to click into place in the phone. Sadly, we found these were not up to mark compared to stock. If the phone falls down, the back cover pops open and the battery flies out. It will never come out while using it, but on impact the cover pops out most of the time. We had faced a similar issue on the Galaxy S case also, and were hoping this was resolved.
As you can see, the extended cover was designed more for functionality than for form. It won’t win your phone any beauty awards. The back case doesn’t encompass the entire back of the device, leaving a shape similar to that of a bottleneck dolphin.
From the front and back, it just looks like a slightly thicker phone, the essential shape remaining the same. What we didn’t like was that it left the phone completely exposed to the elements. We like having some sort of case on the device, to help with falls. Unfortunately, the large size not only adds on to the weight, but also means no 3rd Party Case is compatible with your phone now. Your only solution is to get a device agnostic phone mini-haversack kind of covering.
Getting down to the crux, the battery life. Be aware that our usage is significantly greater than any average user. For these tests, we decided to forgo using a tablet, and even tried to avoid doing functions on the laptop that could be done from the phone. We wanted to see just how fast we could drain the device, without doing something outright impractical like constantly recording video or constantly keeping the screen on.
That’s right. Seventeen hours. Notice how much the screen was on in the above graph. Note that we were on a complete stock ROM, so no kernel switching or undervolting took place.
Here is the splitup of power usage. Understandably, Display topped the list. In fact, look at the amount of screen on time in the below screenshot:
When we test out a phone normally on stock, we get around 3 hours of battery life. This is more than double of what a stock battery would get you. It may not be exactly proportional to the 1650mAh > 4000mAh Battery Jump, but we were satisfied.
If using the battery as your daily driver, it would of course charge through your phone. If using it as a spare battery, you can charge it through any multi purpose battery charger.
It is interesting to know that Mugen Power has their own Battery Calibration Tool available on the Play Store, to help avoid confusing your phone if you regularly switch between Stock and Mugen Batteries.
[col_1_2 style="box border box_blue"] [title h2="title_blue"] What We Liked [/title] [check_list]
- Stellar Battery Life. Can literally throw an entire day of almost continuous use. Perfect for travelling.
- Back Cover feels solid, and quite pleasant to hold in the hand.
- Added kickstand functionality is good to have.
[col_1_2 style="box border box_pink"] [title h2="title_magenta"] What We Didn’t Like [/title]
- Back cover fitting isn’t as tight as we would want it to be. If the phone drops from a moderate height, say from your pocket, the back cover opens up and your battery pops out.
- Kickstand angle not adjustable, not lockable into its place.
- Incompatible with all cases, skins and covers. Leaves phone unprotected.[/delete_list] [/col_1_2]
Conclusion: Would we recommend the Mugen Extended Battery? For Power Users and Travellers, we would highly recommend it. For medium to light users, you probably could do with using a Stock Battery for daily use, and this for when you are travelling, or for emergencies. You can pick up the Extended Battery from Mugen’s Galaxy Nexus page here for $98.95. Be sure to ask for the Twitter discount if you Follow them over there.