Mobile phones are no longer just for talking as they now serve as users’ personal assistants and entertainment centers. This trend has largely altered the landscape of the global mobile phone market. As for smartphones, Apple, Samsung, and HTC are the three giants in the industry, and the competition between them has been heating up over the recent years. Cellular battery, as the main electricity source of mobile phone, is redefined by the rise of smartphones. In order to cater to smartphones’ slim sizes, smartphones’ batteries are built-in, which in turn emphasizes the importance of supplementary power.
Smartphone Market Ruled by Two Giants
In terms of the total shipments, Samsung’s self-supply of the key components allows it to replace Nokia as the number one in the industry. Samsung started to develop entry-level cell phones as early as 2000 and officially became number one in North-American sales in 2008. Due to the climbing demand, Samsung has been increasing the smartphone portion in its production. As of 2011, Samsung’s self-owned smartphones accounted for 45% of the total production, and it will further go up to 65% in 2013. Unlike HTC and Apple’s sole dedication to smartphone, Samsung stably increases its share in the traditional cell phone market. Thus, the users of Samsung’s traditional cell phones may later switch to using Samsung’s smartphones.
Apple and HTC targets the smartphone market from the get-go, so their strategy is to acquire high-end users first and then low-end users. Continuous improvement and innovations is the key to remaining the top-dog in the high-end market. Apple’s business sees stable growth due to its continuous innovations. On the other hand, HTC still pales in comparison with Apple. HTC’s target market overlaps with that of Apple, and on top of that, Samsung has carved up a chunk of the smartphone market. As a result, HTC is facing a fierce challenge in the mid and high-end smartphone market.
Photo I: cellular sales and smartphone sales
Source: EnergyTrend 2012
Smartphone Propels Built-In Battery Growth
In the past, cell phones usually used standard batteries (replaceable batteries) in order to cut costs. However, due to smartphones’ requirements for product designs and slim sizes, a fair amount of smartphones use built-in batteries.
All Apple products use built-in batteries as Apple emphasizes on the product design and portability. All Apple products’ batteries and packaging are tailor-made in order to optimize the products. As for Samsung’s smartphones, some use standard batteries and some polymer batteries. Samsung’s 4-inch and 5-inch products use standard batteries in order to have better battery lives. HTC’s strategy is similar to that of Samsung, but the portion of built-in batteries starts to rise since 2012, expected to reach above 30% by the year end (15% in 2011).
Analysis on Supplementary Power
Affected by Smartphone’s booming popularity, many components have undergone certain drastic changes. For example, battery is crucial to smartphone due to its high electricity consumption, and therefore, battery life becomes a pressing issue. That and the demand for trendy design make built-in battery more and more popular.
The biggest advantage of built-in batteries is that it is compatible with the slim and trendy product design. Most high-end smartphones use polymer batteries, which are difficult for users to replace. Most smartphones with built-in batteries can be recharged through USB port or wireless charger; the former is the most common solution for most products. Power bank is another solution that supplies the products with electricity through electric socket. Wireless charger is still a relatively new solution and is currently only for high-end users.
Although there are several solutions, they can basically be categorized into two kinds: power recharge and supplementary power (Photo II). The edges of power recharge solution are low cost and high applicability,which makes it the mainstream solution for the time being. As for supplementary powers, although backup battery is the more popular choice now, it has its weak points. Backup power might make a better choice under certain circumstances.
Photo II: power recharge and supplementary power
Source: EnergyTrend 2012