I've ranted before about the potential perils of sealed batteries on phones, something of a worrying trend in mobile design. Yes, I know designs can be simpler and more streamlined, but it really hurts the long term flexibility of the device.
Not least because there's precious little way back from human error. In this case, me. My error.
I charge my smartphone, like most people, with a microUSB mains charger beside my bed. Each night I plug the phone in and settle in for a good sleep, confident that my phone will wake me up at 7am in the morning, fully charged and with my morning alarm sounds.
At some point yesterday, I needed to plug something else in and so the phone's power adapter got unplugged. You can probably guess the rest, but...
As I drifted off to sleep I noticed that the usual Android 4.3 DayDream clock face (usually on during charging) wasn't showing. Yes, it was my clock during the night, but hey, I was tired and couldn't care too much. Zzzzzzz.....
By sheer chance I woke up at 6.30 anyway and pressed 'play' on my headphones, hoping that my currently playing podcast would spark back into action. Nothing.
"That's odd", I thought, so I reached out to the phone itself and pressed the screen wake button. Nothing, just a faint flash of red LED at the top of the device. Realisation dawned. The power adapter. My phone hadn't been charging at all during the night and it was now out of power.
Completely out of power. So far gone that plugging in the charger again (at both ends!!) did nothing. Just a placeholder icon on the screen. No LEDs, no sign of life, nothing. I left the charger plugged in for 10 minutes and still nothing. Clearly the battery had been forced into such a state of distress that it was now sulking.
With a sealed design, my options now would have been strictly limited. I guess I'd have played with various button combinations to achieve a reset, hoping to spark the electronics into some kind of charging action. If I was lucky. Plus, even if that worked, I'd have to go around all morning with a microUSB portable charger plugged in, via a wire, at the very least.
A nightmare scenario.
Except that the phone in question was a Samsung Galaxy Note II and had a replaceable battery (as shown above). So I strolled into my cupboard and pulled out my spare ANKER battery. I ripped the back off the Note II and stuck in the spare. The phone booted up fine and showed 62% left on the cell (not bad after several months in storage), so I was good to go for most of the day, at least.
I put the discharged cell into my mains Note II battery charger (only a few quid on eBay) and the LED glowed red/purple, indicating that it was charging happily - phew! I'd be able to swap back to my main battery (which had the add-on Qi charging coils attached) this evening.
So.... having a replaceable battery saved the day - literally. I was able to head out and about entirely as normal, with no dangling wires or power worries.
Add in the other benefits of going replaceable, like the flexibility to add in much higher capacity batteries, and you can see why I remain a fan - and an opponent of strictly sealed designs.