Does a Larger mAh Number on Your Cell Phone Battery Mean a Better Battery?

by Bert Markgraf
Cell phone batteries should be powerful but light.

Cell phone batteries should be powerful but light.

An ideal cell phone battery has a high mAh capacity, but it also has many other important features. A battery might have a very high mAh rating but if it does not hold a charge well, it is not a better battery. The type of battery influences the battery capacity in mAh and many other characteristics. The latest battery types using lithium score the highest on essential features. They are generally better batteries, even when the older nickel batteries have a higher mAh number.

Capacity

The mAh or milliampere-hours of a battery measure how much charge it can hold, and how long it will operate your cell phone before it needs recharging. A 1000 mAh battery can supply 100 milliamps for ten hours, while a 2000 mAh battery can supply the same current for 20 hours. A larger mAh number on your cell phone battery means you don't have to recharge the battery as often. If the new battery is the same as the old one in all other respects, it is a better battery.

Nickel Cadmium (NiCd)

Batteries containing nickel and cadmium are the oldest type of rechargeable batteries. They are heavy and they don't hold very much charge for a particular size of battery. To avoid damaging the battery with the "memory effect," they have to be discharged fully and recharged fully or they lose capacity. If a lithium battery has a higher mAh number than a nickel cadmium battery, it is very likely a better battery.

Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMh)

Replacing the cadmium in nickel cadmium batteries with metal hydride improves battery performance. The NiMh batteries are lighter and have a higher capacity. The memory effect is not as strong so that the batteries only have to be fully discharged and fully re-charged occasionally to retain full capacity. A NiMh battery with a higher mAh number than a similar NiCd battery is a better battery.

Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion)

Lithium is a much lighter metal than nickel, and batteries containing lithium are lighter and more powerful than nickel batteries. As of the date of publication, the lithium-ion battery is the most commonly used type of cell phone battery. It can be charged at any time since lithium batteries are not subject to the memory effect. If a lithium-ion battery has a higher mAh number than a nickel battery, it is likely to be a better battery.

Lithium Polymer

The lithium polymer battery is a further development of battery technology and has a similar capacity than lithium-ion batteries but at a lower price. This type of battery is still not very common as of the date of publication. A lithium polymer battery with a higher mAh number than other types of battery is probably a better battery but it is still hard to find.

About the Author

Bert Markgraf is a freelance writer with a strong science and engineering background. He started writing technical papers while working as an engineer in the 1980s. More recently, after starting his own business in IT, he helped organize an online community for which he wrote and edited articles as managing editor, business and economics. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from McGill University.

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