This thread was originally intended to be a review of the Mugen Power 5400mAh Extended battery for the Galaxy Note. But when I got thinking about it, I knew that the question in everyones mind would be: how does it compare to other
batteries out there? Following on from this, this thread is now going to primarily a Mugen Power review, but also my results from testing them against the two most popular batteries for the note: the OEM Samsung battery and the 3250mAh Gold battery.
1.1 Review: Initial Impressions
Mugen power are a company that sell many types of batteries for a plethora of devices. Their best known, however, for their extended batteries. These extended batteries normally extend out the back of the device so an aftermarket battery
cover is also supplied. In the case of the Galaxy Note (both the N7000 and I717) the extended battery is advertised as being 5400mAh and is supplied with a replacement battery cover/back door with a kickstand for watching movies etc.
When the item arrived it was packaged in a padded brown envelope and within was plastic blister pack that holds the items. Within the blister packaging (that DOESN’T rip your hands apart getting into) is a sheet of paper with some
specs/instructions, the battery cover and the battery itself.
1.2 Review: Hands-On
When you pick up the battery it does not seem overly heavy, but not so light that you think there is nothing in there – this bodes well so far! When inspecting the battery there are no sharp edges, no manufacturing defects and no
problematic areas – it looks like a well made battery. My engineering mind wondered how the item was put together and a light press at the side of the battery gave an insight into how it was manufactured: the battery is actually made of
two “batteries” or cells soldered together to make one unit. Immediately I thought that may pose problems with things like capacity estimates considering the chip would be reading from both cells, but from using the battery it seems very
stable and this is not a problem. (Some users have reported that with aftermarket batteries, their screen flickers when the battery is in the 0-2% range – I didn’t get this with the Mugen battery)
The battery cover is quite an interesting item as in my minds eye I thought it would be thin like the stock Samsung one but with some reinforcement fins for structure. But when you pick up the battery cover the plastic is quite thick and
it feels rather solid in hand. It felt so rigid that I had doubts whether it would bend to clip into the notes back recess points – but it clips in very solidly. It should be mentioned that the top of the battery cover goes in first and
then the rest just pop in, unlike the stock battery cover. Also, the back is textured with little dots, much more prominent than on the stock battery cover, giving you extra grip.
On a side note, the thickness added to the back means that your camera lens cant get scratched.
One feature that I had no expectation of using was the kickstand. This allows the device to sit in landscape mode like a little picture frame. After using the kickstand a few times, I must conclude that it is really a fantastic addition
to the phone! The kickstand is very easy to erect, just push beyond the pivot point and it pops right out ready for you to prop your device up with – it really is very useful!
There are a few issues with the battery door that I would like to mention. Firstly, the kickstand is a great idea, but the material it is made from feels cheap. Also, I would want it to “snap” into place so that it is either hugging the
phone or properly extended – there have been many times where it is just waving there – perhaps a small magnet would hold it in place more securely?
Secondly, the speakerphone doesn’t sound good at all. I appreciate that Mugen cant really do anything to fix this but the speaker is still on the back of the phone and so the sound it puts out echoes inside the battery housing. It isn’t
that bad, but it is noticeable and something I thought I should mention.
1.3 Review: The Bulk
A lot of people are hesitant to try these extended batteries because they think that their lovely slim device will immediately become an ugly, obese device that looks like it came from the 1990’s. Well… that is only partly true. Yes, the
devices thickness does increase quite dramatically but, and this is a big “but”: the device gets much easier to hold! The rounded back and textured surface mean that the phone is transformed from a credit-card to something much more
comfortable to hold to your ear. With the stock battery I have always feared the phone slipping out of my hand, but not with this.
The testing portion of the review/showdown will be comparing the estimated mAh reading I got from an app: “Battery Monitor Widget Pro”. The way I did the testing was to reset the battery stats, and use the phone from 100% to 1% by
watching BBC’s Iplayer continuously. Then I would connect the device to the official Samsung charger that came with my device (1000mA output) and charge it up to 100% and then rerun the Iplayer test. Mugen recommend that their battery
should be cycled (100->0->100) a few times to make the battery perform to its rating. With all the batteries, I tested them for several days with continuous cycling so that the app can get accurate readings.
These are the “estimated” battery statistics from “Battery Monitor Widget Pro”
This shows some interesting data. I am not saying that this app is giving you an absolute measurement of the capacity of the battery. The way I am using the “estimated” capacity is to use it in a comparison. I have assumed that the OEM
Samsung battery is 2500mAh. This may or may not be true but it is safer to assume that the Samsung batteries will be made to a tighter tolerance with higher quality control. With that, what I have done is adjusted the estimates with the
assumption that the OEM battery is 2500mAh and therefore the other batteries have a reduced inaccuracy.
One thing to note is that all the batteries has a similar Max/Min voltage range which is what may cause the screen flickering at low battery to occur. Thankfully the Mugen battery is within the range of the OEM battery which means this shouldn’t occur.
Throughout this review I have comparing the good with the bad about the Mugen Power 5400mAh battery and now is the time to make my final comparison:
- Fantastic battery life!
- Nice rounded back over
- Good grip texture
- Camera indentation to avoid scratches
- Solid construction
- Reputable warranty
- Easy s-pen removal
- Doubles the thickness of the device
- Speakphone quality is compromised
- Plastickly feeling battery cover and kickstand
- Slightly lower capacity than rated (5076mAh vs 5400mAh)
Now the killer question is: after using this battery for a week, is it worth it?
In my honest opinion, I would buy the Mugen Power 5400mAh battery. Yes, it is worth it. I feel that the product is fantastic and would be well suited to someone who does a lot of travelling, a long commute on the train, a lot of phone
calls throughout the day. I would seriously recommend it to anyone who is going to go on holiday/vacation and is going to be using their device for the duration of the flight.
I have given it a lot of thought and I think that for the USD98.95 that they are asking, they could make the product more appealing by upgrading the battery to something that fills the whole housing and making the battery cover more
luxurious – a little brushed aluminium, a few magnets to gold the kickstand in place, etc.
I would rate this product as 4/5. I think it is perfect for anyone who is going to embark on a long journey and needs their device to last a lot longer than the stock battery. If Mugen were to implement some changes to make this better in terms of value for money – I would give it 5/5.
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4.0 Mugen suggestion
This section of the review is my personal opinions on what an extended battery should be and has no impact on the current product. This is purely my pie-in-the-sky ideas and put in for completeness alone:
When I was fitting the battery and the battery cover, I was surprised at how much empty space there was within the battery cover that wasn’t filled by the battery. And we already know that the battery is comprised of two sections, one
that fits in the stock battery section and the extra bit that sticks out the back. So… is it not possible to make the secondary battery (the second cell that sits within the battery housing) larger to fit the battery cover better?
It might sound a bit confusing, but I got wondering whether it would be possible for Mugen to make the battery fill the extra space within the housing. We are sacrificing the looks and compactness of our device so why not make the
battery is large as can be?
Being the engineer that I am, I thought id mock something up on Autocad. I did a little measuring and it seemed as though the secondary battery could be elongated by 29mm, 20mm at the top and 9mm at the bottom.
Manufacturing would comprise of two different sized cells, which are then glued and packed together with trace wires soldering the cells together. It would mean that the battery fills up all the available space within the housing. Yes,
it would make it slightly heavier, but at USD98.95 consumers expect an all-singing-all-dancing product.
The results from the quick mockup resulted in a battery that Mugen Power could manufacture which they could rate at 6500mAh. This would fit in the current battery housing with no modification. I must admit that I know NOTHING about the
working of a battery and this is just an idea that I had that I thought I would present with the review.
5.0 Closing thoughts
When reviewing all of these batteries, it seemed to me that you can basically make a battery of any shape and so why not make a battery that was the whole back of the phone? You could even put a plastic/ rubber packing on it for better
grip/protection and make the product really incredible!
The stock battery shape would still go into the device as before with the same contacts, but then beyond that, what is stopping you? The only thing that you must account for is the camera, the s-pen and the speakerphone. So, I mocked
something up in Autocad as a pie-in-the-sky idea that I thought was cool. The thickness of the back part is the same as the stock OEM battery with the device.