The Motorola Moto G was quite a popular “value” Android smartphone. It had a good value-for-money factor, and as a result, it became the phone of choice for my Dad who was an “intermediate” user that didn’t demand the power of a flagship phone. As with any phone with an integrated “non-user-serviceable” battery, time had worn it down and Dad began to complain about the battery being insufficient to last a day of use.
At that point in time, the phone was just about coming up to its third year since purchase. That would clearly place it in the obsolete category, due for replacement rather than repair, especially when considering the lack of software updates and potential security holes involved. However, Dad was a retiree who wanted to keep expenditure to a minimum and actually liked the way the phone worked and felt.
The decision was made to replace the battery. In late-April this year, after returning from my first extended overseas break, I ordered a replacement from eBay which claimed to be a genuine battery and paid the premium for it.
Following the iFixit teardown was an easy route to a battery replacement. A little care and the old battery was pried out, and some double-sided adhesive allowed the new one to sit securely in place. It was supposed to be quite straightforward so I didn’t take any pictures of the operation and sent the phone off with the new battery thinking that it was all solved.
Unfortunately, after a few days, my Dad reported that the battery was even worse than before. I asked him to perform the standard “recalibration” procedures of draining the phone down until complete shutdown and then allowing an uninterrupted charge, and repeating this if necessary. There was no change, and after a week, he was asking for his old battery back!
I had a feeling this might happen.
While changing the battery, I saw the new battery had all the right markings, but the markings were printed on a clear adhesive label instead of being on the cell itself. Compare this with the image from the iFixit teardown which shows the details clearly printed on the cell with no adhesive label or text alignment issues. Even the “dot matrixed” text is very much printed on the label, and seems to claim a date code of 12th February 2014 with a serial of UBUE03IIYAHU.5B. The images in the listing have no such adhesive label.
I also noticed the flexible flat cable also didn’t have this particular trace design nor printing on the original. This one has YY-ED30 F A 1 marked on it. The rear of the battery had a stamp but also no identifying text of the cell manufacturer (which is normally LG), unlike the listing. Then I noticed the Motorola logo was scrubbed from the seller’s images in the listing. This very much likely makes it a fake, despite the description that claimed it was genuine at the time of sale.
Unfortunately, it was too late for me to chase the seller about it, as it seems they had “closed shop” and other sellers are no longer selling this particular battery as genuine. I guess they may have learned their lesson.
So instead, I decided to see just how good or bad it was. Peeling back the top section of insulating tape exposes the protection board. As the flexible flat connector and clip is too small to work with, I decided to bypass the protection board and clip directly to the (rather ugly) spot-welded tabs of the battery.
I discharged the cell to 3V at a gentle 200mA, then recharged it using a constant current of 750mA, then a constant voltage up to 4.35V (as stated on the label) using my Keysight E36103A bench-top supply. Then, I discharged it through the B&K Precision Model 8600 DC Electronic Load at a constant current of 400mA until 3V to gauge the capacity.
The capacity delivered was a marginal 1619.4mAh. For a battery that claims a typical capacity of 2070mAh, this is significantly short, achieving just 78.2% of the claimed value and below the 2010mAh claimed minimum on the label. Generally speaking, a Li-ion cell is considered “end of life” when it delivers just 80% of the label capacity, so this cell would be pretty much “as bad” as a cell that had finished its promised number of cycles.
While this is a disappointing performance, it is still “marginal” in the sense that it’s not quite so bad to make it nonviable compared to a worn battery. The other thing is that it’s not quite claiming to be 3630mAh as some other replacement batteries are.
When buying online, the “bait-and-switch” of using pictures of genuine products and shipping something else seems to be a common trick. The difference was that the differences in this case were not immediately apparent, and because of the close visual imitation, caused some doubt as to whether the battery was fake in the first place. This might be an effective strategy if it means the consumer is confused for long enough to allow the seller to “make a getaway”.
Unfortunately, it only delivers 1619.4mAh when tested at (approximately) C/5 constant current discharge to 3V, which represents about 78.2% of the claimed typical capacity, making it just about as bad as a worn battery.
I suppose my only option is to chase them via PayPal, but whether this is even worthwhile is another matter.
P.S. Behind the scenes, a lot of “random” things are happening and I’ve kept myself remarkably busy keeping up with things, fixing broken items and investigating long-standing questions. As a result, postings have been a bit few and far-between, so I hope to remedy that somewhat in the near future as I dedicate a little more time to writing things up. It might not be a return to the regular-and-prolific service before the beginning of the year, but at least it should hopefully be something better than this year. Speaking of which, I’ve still not had a chance to put anything substantial from my holidays on the blog yet! Where does all the time go?