The Nexus 4 announcement disappointed me. No, it wasn’t the lack of LTE. No, it wasn’t T Mobile exclusivity either. While they are certainly among the worst first world problems ever listed, they didn’t phase me too much. What bothered me most about the Nexus 4 was the lack of a removable battery.
Removable batteries allow you to prolong your devices’ usability. When the lithium-ion battery gets worn, you can buy a new battery and go about your business. If you have a non-removable battery you are likely get a new device. It’s an expiration date. Device obsolescence at its best.
I bought a new battery for my aging MacBook in 2009. The battery cost me in the neighborhood of twenty dollars (if I recall correctly). What would I do with a newer MacBook with the non-removable battery? Pay over one hundred dollars for a replacement? I can replace a removable battery a few times for that cost. I was a student at the time. For a poor college student, one-hundred dollars is a big deal.
The two-year update cycle for cellular devices makes this a moot point for some. Others like to keep their older phones. I, for example, have an HTC Incredible 2 as a backup phone. Hypothetically, I should be able to keep it as a backup phone forever.
Don’t let the subsidized pricing fool you. Cell phones are expensive devices. I encourage users to keep their phones as long as they can. Donating or selling is also an option. Non removable batteries will make cell phones reusable only for extreme diy-ers or those who don’t mind paying for an expensive swap. The abundance of cell phones will have few people going the extra mile when they can buy a subsidized replacement.
Android phones were known for their removable batteries. With the Nexus 4 having a non-removable unit, does this speak to the greater mobile device industry? I certainly hope not.