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When we buy gizmos, we try to make sure that they have a good, long-lasting battery. Although, we only look at battery capacities. The formula seems simple – the larger the capacity, the better the battery life, right? But have you ever tried to find out what do terms like Li-ion and Li-Po mean? These abbreviations denote the types of batteries your device packs, and this plays a vital role in keeping your device juiced up. Let’s take a deeper look at these battery types and how they affect our phones and laptops in our daily life.
What are Li-ion batteries?
Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are used in most of our modern-day smartphones. These batteries are made of three different parts, an anode (a negative terminal) made of lithium metal, a cathode (positive terminal) made up of graphite and a separating electrolyte layer between them to prevent short-circuiting. Whenever we charge our batteries, through a chemical reaction, ions from the negative terminal travels towards the positive terminal where energy is stored. As the battery discharges, ions travel back again to the anode.
Ever wondered how our phones stop themselves from overcharging? Well, these batteries are also equipped with a small electronic controller to do just that. Some brands have made developments in reshaping these batteries into layers to gain even more capacity.
What are Li-Po Batteries?
A Lithium-polymer (Li-Po) is quite an old technology that you can find in your old, bar phones or laptops. These batteries have a similar structure like Li-ion batteries, but is made of a gel-like (Silicon-Graphene) material which is quite light in weight. Due to its light and flexible characteristics, these batteries are used in laptops and most of the high-capacity powerbanks.
Which of them is better?
Both battery types have their own advantages and disadvantages. To start off, Li-ion batteries have a very high-power density, which means they can simply pack more power cells than lithium-polymer batteries. Smartphone makers use this attribute to pack more power still maintaining a sleek design profile.
These batteries also lack a memory effect. What does that means? A memory effect is a phenomenon where batteries lose their optimum recharging ability. As lithium-ion batteries are free from the memory effect, you can recharge your batteries even after partial discharges.
However, there are disadvantages to lithium-ion batteries. One of the biggest is its aging effect. After a certain period of time, ions present in batteries lose their ability to produce maximum energy. So if you were complaining about your phone discharging quickly, you now know the reason behind it.
Li-polymer batteries are more rigid and lightweight. These batteries also have a lower chance of leaking due to their gel-like characteristic. However, these batteries cannot evade the memory effect issue. The gel-like material gets harder over time resulting in shorter life span. These batteries also cannot pack high-power density in compact sizes, which is generally the reason they are typically large. The most accessible example of this are your traditional laptop batteries which generally needs replacements after a certain period of time.
How do you choose one?
Now that you know the merits and de-merits of both technologies, it totally depends on your usage of which one to go for. Most of the modern-day smartphones are equipped with Li-ion batteries, so you are hardly left with options to choose from. But doors are still open in case of power banks and laptops. If you are a person who travels a lot, work in rough environments, then powerbanks or laptops with Li-polymer batteries can be a better choice for you due to their lightweight and robust nature. In contrast, if you prefer your devices to be sleek and with more power on the go, then Li-ion batteries devices can be perfect for you.
With both the battery types partially satisfying our needs, we all may have one question in mind, isn’t there a perfect solution? For now, there isn’t but tech giants such as Tesla are working on a new type of battery type called SSB (Solid State Batteries) which can power their electric vehicles. These batteries are supposedly compact and have a non-disintegrating nature. Smartphone brands such as Apple and Samsung are also said to be working on SSB which can power their future devices. These batteries may take some time to finally make their way in our devices.
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