Nearly all portable electronic devices now use lithium-ion (Li-Ion) batteries. However, lithium polymer (Li-Po) batteries are used in some common consumer electronics.
The distinction between Li-ion (Lithium-Ion) and Li-Po (Lithium-Polymer) batteries is more nuanced than first meets the eye.
The devices we use on a daily basis rely on these common battery types, and we’ll examine them here in detail.
What Are Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) Batteries?
All over the world, lithium-ion batteries are the lifeblood of our smartphones, laptops, and other electronic devices. To create these batteries, four materials are mixed together:
- A cathode (the positive terminal)
- An anode (the negative terminal)
- A separator
The lithium anode and cathode are distinguished by their respective materials; lithium is used for the anode and graphite for the cathode. Sometimes cobalt or manganese are substituted instead.
The electrolyte acts as the conduit for ionic transport between the anode and the cathode, while the separator blocks the charges from causing a short circuit.
Because of this, when your phone is charged, ions stored at the negative terminal begin vibrating until they gain enough charge to travel from the anode to the cathode, thereby overcoming the separating layer. It is because of this motion that electricity is produced to run your gadget. Ions will return to the cathode as your battery discharges.
What Are Lithium-Polymer (Li-Po) Batteries?
Until recently, smartphones didn’t even have access to Li-Po batteries, which are newer and more advanced than the more common lithium-ion variety. One of the most encouraging alternatives to lithium-ion batteries.
Because of how quickly they could be recharged, that was the main factor. The first devices to use lithium-polymer batteries were laptops and bulkier smartphones. Lithium-polymer batteries are found in a variety of modern devices. Lithium-polymer batteries are commonly used in portable chargers due to their portability and versatility.
Li-Po batteries, like their lithium-ion counterparts, feature an anode and a cathode. In contrast to traditional batteries, however, the electrolyte in these is more like a gel.
Due to this, they tend to last longer and are safer because the electrolyte won’t leak out. However, this gel-like substance tends to harden with use, restricting the free movement of ions and thus shortening the battery’s lifespan.
Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) Batteries vs. Lithium-Polymer (Li-Po) Batteries
Here we will point out 8 primary differences between Li-Ion vs Li-Po batteries. Read them carefully to know everything.
The relatively low cost of lithium-ion batteries is a major factor in their widespread use. Lithium-ion batteries have been around for a while, so manufacturing costs have been cut in half thanks to advances in technology.
Lithium-polymer batteries have marginally higher manufacturing costs when directly compared. This is why they are rarely found in inexpensive electronics.
2. Power Density
The power density of a battery is defined as the total amount of energy it stores relative to its total mass. As a result, a higher power-density battery will last longer.
When compared to lithium-polymer batteries of the same size, lithium-ion batteries can store up to four times as much energy. They are therefore more suitable for use in small electronic gadgets.
But lithium-polymer batteries typically need a protective case, either hard or soft. More bulk means they can’t be used in compact gadgets.
With the advent of cutting-edge production techniques, however, the balance may shift.
Safer than their lithium-ion counterparts, lithium-polymer batteries benefit from sturdy packaging. Risks are reduced because a hard-shell Li-Po battery can withstand pressure from the outside world.
Lithium-polymer batteries are commonly found in devices that provide extremely fast charging for this very reason. Compared to Li-Ion batteries, Li-Po batteries are less likely to leak due to the electrolyte gel used in them.
4. Passive Discharge Rate
When using a Li-Po battery-powered device, the discharge rate will be extremely low. Unlike Li-Ion batteries, Li-Po batteries have a very low passive discharge rate, so you won’t have to worry about your device running out of power while it’s sitting idle. This is one way in which Li-Po batteries have an advantage over Li-Ion in terms of long-term storage.
Lithium-polymer batteries’ adaptability is an advantage that gets little attention. In addition to being used in mobile devices, external battery packs, and computers, Li-Po batteries can also be purchased for use in hobby-grade drones and RC vehicles.
Among the reasons for this is the ease with which they can be personalised. Given that Li-Po batteries can be made in any configuration (thanks to their gel base), a wide variety of brands are available. The capacity of Li-Po batteries ranges from a few thousand milliampere hours (mAh) to over ten thousand mAh. A surprising number of Li-Po batteries also have a profile thickness of less than 1 mm.
6. Useful Life
When comparing lithium types, lithium ion batteries tend to outlast their lithium polymer counterparts. However, lithium-ion batteries have a lifespan of two to three years, while lithium-polymer batteries only last a few hundred charges. For one thing, the gel-based electrolyte used in Li-Po batteries eventually solidifies.
7. General Maintenance
There is essentially no upkeep for lithium-ion batteries. However, Li-Po batteries need periodic upkeep to function properly.
There are many misconceptions floating around about phone charging, but the truth is more nuanced. The software on a smartphone also allows for more precise battery readings. An iPhone’s battery, for instance, can be calibrated to provide more information about the device’s overall performance.
When storing Li-Po batteries, for instance, it’s recommended that you charge them to about 30% of their capacity. Larger Li-Po batteries also have to be charged with a unique balance charger.
Since lithium-polymer batteries are now significantly easier to maintain thanks to newer technology, they are widely used in smartphones.
It’s possible to carry around lithium-ion or lithium-polymer batteries with relative ease. In contrast, the former triumphs because it is possible to locate them in quite thin designs, making them ideal for use in portable devices.
Li-Ion vs. Li-Po: Which Is Best?
There has been a rise in the use of lithium-ion batteries as they have become increasingly popular. Lithium-polymer batteries, on the other hand, are quickly rising in popularity as a result of their improved safety features and consistent performance.
Even so, numerous businesses are currently developing cutting-edge innovations. For instance, solid-state batteries are superior to lithium-ion batteries in almost every conceivable way.