by Adam Marks on Thursday, Feb 9, 2012
Anyone who has used a webOS phone for any period of time knows that battery life is not one of the strongest features of those phones. While it has gotten significantly better from when the original Pre was first released in 2009, it's still a difficult task to make it through a full day with any type of moderate usage. For Pre, Pre Plus, or Pre 2 owners, the good news was that you could use spare batteries from any of those phones interchangeably or purchase spare stock or extended batteries from places such as the webOS Nation store.
With the official limited release of the HP Pre3 in Europe and the slew of AT&T (and a few Verizon) phones making their way to eBay, we found ourselves in a bit of a quandary: the only way to get a spare battery for those phones was to buy an extra Pre3. Not exactly an inexpensive (or efficient) proposition. And if you didn’t want to spend the hundreds of dollars on another Pre3 just for its battery, what would happen if/when the battery stopped working after extended usage, shorted out, or gets trashed?
Seeing a potential business opportunity, Mugen Power Batteries (who previously made extended batteries for both the Pre and Pixi) created their own a survey late last year to gague interested in extended batteries for the Pre3. Within just a few hours of opening the poll, Mugen announced that they received enough feedback to justify development of Pre3 batteries. Pre-orders were opened in December for a 1400 mAh "SL" extended battery for $46.95 and a 2800 mAh "XL" extended battery for $98.95, the latter of which comes with a larger back cover for the Pre3. As compared to the stock Pre3 battery that clocks in at 1230 mAh, these batteries should provide an extra 14% or 128% of battery life before your phone needs to be plugged back in.
Stock Pre3 Battery on the left, Mugen 1400 mAh battery on the right
Mugen began shipping their extended batteries earlier this month and was kind enough to send us one for review. Today we're taking a look at the 1400 mAh SL battery. After spending a few days calibrating the battery as Mugen suggested, I then put it through its paces for a few more days without connecting to a charger until the battery was almost dead. It's fair to say that this battery preformed exactly as advertised. Rated at 1400 mAh (although Dr. Battery actually showed a capacity of 1460 mAh), it's only 170 mAh more than the stock battery, which meant that the SL battery only got me an extra hour or so of battery life before I got down to almost 0%.
For some, that extra hour or two may be what you needed, but it still did not allow me to make it through an entire day without needing to recharge. However, I wasn't expecting it to. Instead, what it did give me was the peace of mind in knowing that I had a spare battery on hand that I could swap out if the need arose. Even if the SL battery was the same 1230 mAh as the stock battery, it would have been worth the purchase to have that spare battery.
Since you don’t need a separate back for Mugen's SL extended battery due to the same physical dimensions as the stock Pre3 battery, you are able to continue to use the Touchstone to charge your Pre3. In real world use where I rest my phone on the Touchstone when not in use, I noticed that I would be able to end the day with at least 10-15 percentage points higher in battery than with the stock battery. Still not enough to last a full day if I'm not often near a charger, but as long as I can swap back the original battery if needed, I was just fine. The only real downside was that the only way to charge the spare battery was in the phone itself since no external charging cradles exists for this battery, but that is an annoyance that can be easily overlooked.
Bottom line, if you own a Pre3 and either want a little extra juice in your battery or just want a spare battery, the Mugen SL battery is well worth the money. It's currently on sale for $44.95 and if you "like" Mugen on Facebook or follow them on Twitter at @MugenBatteries you will be able to get an additional 7% coupon code. As to whether or not Mugen made the right decision releasing this battery, well, it was their best selling extended battery of 2011. Not bad for a device that only saw a few days of official availability.