Mobile batteries: 'Cheap' may cost you dear

Original batteries always perform better than those bought from street vendors at rock-bottom rates

India is one of the fastest-growing mobile markets in the world. According to latest figures released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), at the end of February, the country's total wireless (mobile) subscriber base reached 563.73 million (56.4 crore), with an overall tele-density of over 51%.

With this kind of growth, no wonder, all kinds of mobile handset manufacturers and accessory makers are reaping huge profits, by using any method. For example, out of the total 563 million users, if about 10% of them have to replace a battery annually, then there is a market for 5.6 million or 56 lakh batteries, every year!

This 'potential' has attracted numerous cheap (and mostly fake or refurbished) batteries which are available at various streets. Last when I checked, I found 'long-lasting' mobile batteries of almost all handsets available at a street vendor for as low as Rs50 a piece. This is in contrast to the sky-high prices of original mobile batteries. For example, BST-36, an original battery from Sony Ericsson costs Rs1,299; a battery which looks the same is available for about Rs100 at any street vendor.

Most batteries available with street vendors are fake and mostly refurbished batteries. Sometimes, these batteries may even explode, causing damage to both the battery and the phone. (I have witnessed one such incident, where the battery was purchased from an Indian manufacturer, in the hope that it would be better in quality than Chinese ones). Second, the life and output of these cheap batteries is always lower than original batteries.

One techie, Doug Simmons, actually did a study comparing original and third-party or 'duplicate' batteries. Checking the claims of original and duplicate battery manufacturers on the output and life of these units, Mr Simmons found that original batteries made by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are reasonably accurate and live up to their promised ratings, such as output and life span. Third-party batteries are consistently 20% to 30% weaker than their claims. (Check the results of this test here:

Now, the question is, how can you distinguish an original battery from its duplicate counterpart? First and most important, buy the original battery from an authorised dealer of the particular mobile handset and get a bill for it. Second, know the type/model (e.g. BL-C5) of your battery along with its output—measured in mAh (milliampere-hour) or in volts. Inspect the contact pins on the battery; they should be bright yellow without any scratches. Last, dispose your used battery properly and carefully, since there are chances that it may come back to you as a 'new and original' battery by way of refurbishing. 

In 2004, Nokia had come out with a hologram sticker on its OEM battery. The hologram label on Nokia batteries consists of a holographic image as well as an authentication code hidden under a scratch-off area on the label. However, there is no such initiative from other mobile handset manufacturers.

To curtail this phenomenon of refurbishing mobile batteries, both OEMs and users will have to take some initiatives. For starters, OEMs can offer certain discounts on new batteries to customers who return the old unit for recycling, similar to the discounts offered on inverter batteries. In our country, the word 'discount' often works like a magic wand and may help both OEMs and customers.

Customers should also refrain from buying mobile batteries from roadside vendors or from the Internet, since here the chances of you being taken for a ride are high. Paying a little more can actually save you money, as far as mobile batteries are concerned.




7 years ago

Good eye opener ! But let me tell you problems faced by mobile users/owners. True, that the batteries that come original with mobile phone are the best. But when after using the mobile for 3-4 years, when that battery starts wearing out, you are forced to look for a replacement. This is when you realise that the mobile company has 'conveniently' stopped supplying their original battery in the replacement market and you are forced to buy 'duplicate' chinese make, not from road side vendors but even established mobile retail outlets such as ALFA at Irla, Mumbai. Ofcourse, the good thing is that they tell you upfront that these are not original and will not give the same result. But then the question is if you cannot get an original replacement and should not buy a duplicate one, what to do with your 3-4 year old phone ? This is the way mobile companies are forcing us to buy new mobile phones rather than replacing the batteries. They purposely stop the battery supplies after say 2 years knowing fully well that even if the mobile lasts longer, it will become unusable without an original battery replacement and more so with a duplicate one after 1-2 more year/s.

Private, foreign investment in oil exploration at $10.30 billion till Jan 2010

The government has said that production of natural gas has increased 75% over 2008-09 and is expected to double in the near future

India has attracted $10.30 billion (about Rs46,000 crore) of private and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the oil & gas hunt till January this year since the advent of the New Exploration and Licensing Policy (NELP), reports PTI.

Replying to a question in the Lok Sabha, Jitin Prasada, minister of state for petroleum and natural gas, said that natural gas production in India has increased 75% compared to 2008-09 and is expected to double in the near future.

Asked why companies were not coming forward to participate in the NELP, the minister said, “The policy (NELP) is very clear, most transparent and best in the world and this sometimes discourages foreign or private companies.”

He, however, hailed the participation of as many as 36 companies including domestic private firms, MNCs and PSUs in the 8th round of the NELP, saying that it was “good as it happened at a time when the entire world was reeling under a downturn.”

He did not share the view that PSUs were inefficient in exploration of oil fields whereas the private sector has succeeded.

“PSUs may some times relinquish a block not because they have not found oil, but due to the fact that they may have discovered oil in some other blocks,” he said. He added that this being a very capital-intensive industry, firms take the final decision keeping viability in mind.

Mr Prasada defended the policy of private sector participation, saying that India needs investment and the best technology. “We want these companies to come and have ensured a level playing field between public and private sector firms,” the minister said.


IMF supports India’s tightening of monetary policy

The global entity has said that the country’s challenge lies in ensuring durable fiscal consolidation, including implementation of structural reforms

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said that the tightening of monetary policy by India is an “appropriate step,” as the country is faced with high inflation and needs to consolidate the fiscal measures initiated during the slowdown, reports PTI.

“India is relatively more closed, and has relied on stimulus to support growth. The main challenge will be to ensure durable fiscal consolidation, including implementing fiscal and other structural reforms,” Abdul Abaid, senior economist in the World Economic Studies Division of the IMF, said at a news conference held at its headquarters.

He said that in relation to other countries in the Asian region, India has high inflation, and the tightening of monetary policy currently under way is appropriate.

Referring to the latest World Economic Outlook, he said in India, growth is projected to be 8.8% in 2010, and 8.4% in 2011, which is supported by rising private domestic demand.

“Consumption will strengthen as the labour market improves, and investment is expected to be boosted by strong profitability, rising business confidence, and favourable financing conditions,” he said.

In India’s neighbourhood, Nepal's real GDP growth is expected to slow to 3% in 2009-10 from 4.7% in 2008-09 due to poor monsoon and softer remittances, but growth is anticipated to strengthen again in 2010-11, said the IMF official.

For Sri Lanka, the IMF projects acceleration in growth from 3.5% last year to 5.5% this year.

“There is currently an IMF programme, which we can't comment on; the key priority in Sri Lanka is basically to obtain a credible and sustainable reduction in the fiscal deficit going forward. That is the main vulnerability there right now,” he said.


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