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Phone manufacturers are putting a lot of money into research and development of small, lightweight, and powerful batteries that should last all day. For light to moderate smartphone users, companies have finally achieved this goal, but heavy users may find themselves looking for an outlet halfway through the day.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 3 (which come with 2600 mAh and 3200 mAh batteries respectively) both offer fairly large batteries that last long enough for most users and keep the device’s profile quite slim. But did you know you’re not limited to the stock battery? If you can deal with increased thickness and weight, you might want to take a serious look at ZeroLemon batteries.
This review mainly focuses on the ZeroLemon battery for the Samsung Galaxy S4, but we’ll give both batteries for the Galaxy S4 and Note 3 away.
About ZeroLemon Batteries
ZeroLemon is a Chinese company that specializes in making monster battery packs for popular smartphones. These batteries aren’t just ultra high-density power packs, but they’re also physically larger. The tradeoffs are quite obvious here — your smartphone ends up becoming quite a bit thicker and heavier, but you benefit from the larger battery pack. Is it worth it?
ZeroLemon faces some competition from Hyperion, Seido Innocell, and Mophie. Hyperion and Seido Innocell make extended batteries (although not quite as large as the one from ZeroLemon) that still require a modified back panel to close up your phone, and Mophie makes “Juice Pack” external battery packs and cases that you can turn on and off to recharge the phone’s internal battery. Hyperion batteries are the cheapest, but ZeroLemon batteries are the second cheapest option and offer the largest capacity.
The ZeroLemon battery for the Galaxy S4 costs $39.99 and offers a 7,500 mAh capacity battery, a modified hard-shell case, and is NFC-enabled. For an additional $20, you’ll get ZeroLemon’s 10,000 mAh battery for the Galaxy Note 3 which is also NFC-enabled, and an additional holster because apparently, the phone will end up being so big that there’s a good chance you won’t be able to fit it in your pocket.
Of course, the main attraction here is the increased capacity — on the Galaxy S4, the ZeroLemon battery carries 2.88 times more capacity than the stock battery, and 3.125 times for the Galaxy Note 3.
Unboxing and Installation
When unpacking the battery, you’ll get just a few items — the battery itself, the case, a card containing warranty information, and another card containing battery maintenance instructions. For the Galaxy Note 3, you also get the holster, a microfiber cloth, and a screen protector.
Installing the battery is a bit difficult because of its sheer size. Just be sure to insert the side of the battery that has the contact points in first to make it a little bit easier — don’t be afraid to apply a small amount of force to push it into place. When correctly inserted, the part that extends out from the battery compartment should be flush with the device.
It’s important to read the instructions to get going, although people argue that the instructions for continued use of the battery are a bit suspicious. It’s important perform an initial charge cycle to calibrate the battery. This is done by inserting the battery into the phone, turn the device off, then connect the charger for 12 hours. After that, you may turn the phone on and use it until the battery runs out. You’ve now done a full cycle of the battery and made the phone aware of the new capacity of the battery and how long it lasts. If the initial cycle wasn’t performed, the phone would have read the remaining battery level as 100% or near 100% because it’s accustomed to the stock battery’s maximum capacity.
Once you’ve done this, you may not want to follow the tip to drain the battery to 2% every time before plugging it in again, because lithium-ion batteries are known to lose their effectiveness quicker if you do exactly that. Instead, you should ideally charge it when it’s at 30-40% up until 80%. Long story short, it’s better to just charge the battery when you feel like you need to rather than intentionally waiting until it gets to 2%. At least this battery encourages better charging habits because you won’t be as paranoid about it going flat on you before you get a chance to charge it again. In other words, you’re more likely to feel the need to charge it once it hits 30% or lower rather than once it hits say 50%.
Simply put, the battery is absolutely excellent as far as how long it lasts. Battery life is often described in terms of “screen on time” as your phone could otherwise last for a very long time if you hardly use it. With the stock battery for the Galaxy S4, I ended up reaching approximately 4 hours of screen on time before it went out, but with the ZeroLemon battery, I can easily get to around 10 hours, which is more than enough of the average user. So, it should last long enough for those boring road trips or just nice for heavier users.
NFC is also enabled on this battery, and it seems to work flawlessly. There’s absolutely nothing different here, which is great to see.
Thickness and Weight
The case and extended battery ensemble add some serious thickness and weight to the phone. I’d say that the Galaxy S4 is now twice as thick as it was before and is probably two to three times heavier. It’s certainly a noticeable difference that feels a bit strange at first. The phone still fits in my pocket, and the added weight makes the phone feel more solid in my hands, which I actually like. So, because of the vastly increased battery capacity, I can live with those drawbacks. However, this is a very personal opinion — I’m sure there are plenty of other people who would see that as an absolute dealbreaker.
The included case is alright, but not great. It’s very sturdy and seems like it can take a big hit (which is important since the case now acts as the back panel), but there are two minor issues with it. First, the power and volume buttons are hard to press through the case, so sometimes, I need to apply a lot of pressure just to lock my screen. I definitely wish that this could be made easier. Second, a lot of people have complained that the white case (which I reviewed) tends to absorb dirt and other colors it comes in contact with. Additionally, I’ve had a pair of jeans that seemed to add a blue tinge to the case. I immediately kept it out of my pocket for the rest of the time that I tested it to prevent further discoloration.
Another issue I found is that the light from the flash bounces off the case a bit because the case is so close to it and the camera lens. Therefore, pictures end up looking darker because the lens gets a lot of bright light from the case rather than the light that reflects off of whatever you’re photographing. The issue isn’t as severe if you’re photographing something that already has a lot of light, but if you’re pointing the camera at a dark location, it’ll have issues. I’ve even had issues with it focusing incorrectly because of the light that reflects off of the case. Anyone who takes a lot of flash photography will need to take this into account; I don’t, so it doesn’t really impact me much.
Surprisingly, there are no issues with audio while using the case. Although the Galaxy S4’s speaker is pointed toward the rear, and the opening in the case points down, the sound is still strong and clear. I was worried that the case would make the sound from the speaker muffled, but it didn’t.
Another concern some people might have with extended batteries is that their signal strength might suffer because of the larger electromagnetic field that is produced by the battery. However, I noticed no change in signal strength while using the ZeroLemon batteries. I even looked at the numerical signal strength (measured in dB). There’s no point in posting any numbers because the signal strength was virtually unchanged. A drop of a single dB is definitely within the margin of error, and that’s all I ever noticed.
Should you buy the ZeroLemon Batteries for the Samsung Galaxy S4 and Samsung Galaxy Note 3?
So, are the ZeroLemon extended batteries worth getting? So long as the increased thickness and weight are not an issue for you, then absolutely! If you place a lot of importance on thickness and weight, then this is definitely not for you. The $39.99 and $59.99 price tags are also very affordable. So, if you’re in need of a new battery anyways, then this should definitely be on your list of considerations. Although I wish the included case was better quality, it’s still usable and protective.
Absolutely buy if you’re fine with increased thickness and weight.
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