Motorola Razr V3 BR50 / BR56 Battery Replacement Options
Motorola doesn't make BR50 or BR56 batteries anymore, so what should you do?
February 2015 update: Although we haven't used our Razr flip phones for almost two years, I decided to pull them out and see if they still work with the Lenmar replacement batteries I bought for them in 2012. I was happily surprised to see that they turned on just fine and the batteries still worked! I charged up the phones to see how long the now three-year old Lenmar batteries would last when charged. You can read my 2015 test results and review below...
(2012) My wife and I have Motorola RAZR V3 flip phones. She has a pink one, and I have a silver phone. We've had them for about five years, and love them. But lately the phones need to be recharged more and more often, and I decide it's time to replace the batteries. I open the back of the phone and see I need a BR50 battery. I order a BR 50 battery online. I get it and it's actually a BR 56 battery, but I check and confirm it should work. I put it in the phone and charge it, but it doesn't hold a charge for more than a few hours. I look closely at it and see it was made in 2007, and is five years old! I complain to the vendor and end up getting a refund. I find another vendor online. This time I contact the vendor before ordering and ask what the battery date before ordering. This vendor first assures me the battery will be new, but after a few emails back and forth, eventually admits that BR50 and BR56 batteries haven't been made since around 2010, and the battery will be from 2010 or earlier. I don't want to buy another old battery, so I don't order, and instead start looking for an alternative replacement battery. That's the short version of how I found out Motorola doesn't make BR50 or BR56 batteries anymore. You can read my original archived long version at the end of this post below. The important thing to know is that a few years after Motorola stopped making and selling the RAZR flip phone in 2007, they also stopped making and selling BR50 and BR56 batteries, and Motorola hasn't made a new BR50 or BR56 battery since around 2010. If someone is claiming to be selling a "new" "genuine" "original" "OEM" Motorola BR50 battery, it simply is not true. It is either an old "refurbished" battery (which is what I got and turned out to be junk), or it is a new but knockoff (counterfeit) battery. It might work just fine. Or more likely, it might not hold a charge very long, or it might not last very long. Personally, I wouldn't risk my time or money to find out...
Not wanting to give up our trusty "old-school" RAZR flip phones, after a fair amount of research, I decided to try a "BR50 equivalent" battery. I decided to order a Lenmar CLM5696 lithium-ion rechargeable replacement battery I found online. I bought a Lenmar CLM5696 battery in July 2012, and tried it out. After several weeks of testing, I found that a battery charge would typically last 4 to 5 days with minimal use, or if I I talked for an hour and a half on a fresh charge, the battery would still last another 2 to 3 days. The Lenmar CLM5696 battery seemed as good as the original OEM Motorola manufactured BR50/BR56 battery, so in August 2012, I bought a second Lenmar battery for our other RAZR flip phone. The second Lenmar replacement battery worked just as well as the first one.
Unfortunately, about a year later, in March 2013, T-Mobile made "upgrades" to our nearby cell tower to improve the 3G/4G signal by taking some of the "unused" 2G spectrum, and the 2G signal at our house became unreliable (though T-Mobile never acknowledged this). The Motorola RAZR flip phone is only a 2G phone (not 3G or 4G). Our RAZR flip phones would randomly lose the T-mobile signal for minutes or hours, and we would miss some incoming phone calls and were sometimes unable to make outgoing phone calls. Although we loved our trusty RAZR flip phones, we couldn't continue to use them because they are 2G and our T-Mobile 2G signal was just too unreliable. We sadly had to retire them in April 2013, and temporarily replaced them with 3G flip phones for a while, until we decided to leave T-Mobile and switch to Republic Wireless (read my review of Republic Wireless and why I think you should consider switching to their unbelievable but true $10/month unlimited talk and text plan).
So we purchased two Lenmar BR50 / BR56 equivalent rechargeable lithium-ion batteries for our Motorola V3 RAZR flip phones in 2012, and continued to use them for about a year, until we had retire our RAZR phones because our T-Mobile 2G signal became unreliable. The Lenmar replacement batteries worked just fine and held a good charge. I can easily recommend that if you need a Motorola BR50 or BR56 battery, you should buy a Lenmar replacement battery. In a proverbial nutshell, it works!
Last year (2014), I needed to buy a new rechargeable battery for our Nikon Coolpix digital camera, and because of my experience with the Lenmar replacement batteries for our Razr flip phones, I bought a Lenmar lithium-ion rechargeable battery for our Nikon camera. I tested the Lenmar battery and found it to be as good as or better than the original Nikon battery that came with the camera. You can read about my Lenmar Nikon EN-EL19 replacement battery test here (I think it easily took more pictures on a single charge than the original Nikon battery). Anyway, after writing about that Lenmar battery, I decided to update this post on the Lenmanr BR50/BR56 replacement battery, and so I pulled out our old RAZR flip phones we put away in 2013 to see if they (and the Lenmar batteries in them) would still work. Although the Lenmar batteries were almost three years old, and hadn't even been used or charged for almost two years, both RAZR phones turned on and powered up with no problems! I charged up both phones, and then planned to see how long the charge would last. However, the next day my kids noticed the old RAZR phones and couldn't resist grabbing them and looking through old pictures and videos that had been left on the phones, as well as taking new pictures and videos, and playing around with them. I realized I'd have to start my test over and recharged the RAZRs again. This test is unscientific. I don't have current valid T-Mobile SIM cards, so I can't make calls on the phones, but I'm going to just leave them on and see how long the battery charge lasts. One problem I might have is that I've noticed the T-Mobile (2G) signal is missing sometimes when I check the phone (which is why we had to stop using them in the first place). This may run down the battery faster since it seems a weak or missing cell signal uses up battery faster because the phone is constantly searching for a signal. Anyway, as of the morning of February 16, both RAZR phones (and our three-year-old Lenmar batteries) have been fully charged up. I'll report over the next few days how long the batteries last.
DAY ZERO: February 16, 2015, ~10am - fully charged: Silver RAZR shows full three bars on battery indicator, Pink RAZR shows full three bars on battery indicator.
DAY ONE: February 17, 2015, ~11:30am - Silver RAZR shows three bars on battery indicator, Pink RAZR shows three bars on battery indicator.
DAY TWO: February 18, 2015, ~10:00am - Silver RAZR shows three bars on battery indicator, Pink RAZR shows three bars on battery indicator.
DAY THREE: February 19, 2015, ~10:00am - Silver RAZR shows three bars on battery indicator, Pink RAZR shows three bars on battery indicator.
DAY FOUR: February 20, 2015, ~10:00am - Silver RAZR shows three bars on battery indicator, Pink RAZR shows two bars on battery indicator.
DAY FIVE: February 20, 2015, ~11:00am - Silver RAZR shows two bars on battery indicator, Pink RAZR shows one bar on battery indicator.
DAY SIX: February 20, 2015, ~10:00am - Silver RAZR shows one bar on battery indicator. The Pink RAZR ran out sometime last night after 10pm, and was off this morning. This means the Lenmar CLM5696 battery in the Pink RAZR lasted five and a half days! Not too bad for a three year old battery that was used for a year and then left sitting in a drawer for about another two years. I plugged the Pink RAZR in this morning and it fully recharged in about two and a half hours with no problems. I'm expecting the Silver RAZR to run out and shut down sometime today or tonight.
DAY SIX: February 20, 2015, ~6:00pm - The Silver RAZR started beeping around 10:30am, and showed a red battery low warning. It was still beeping when I left the house around noon, and then was off when I returned around 3pm. I plugged it in, and it fully recharged just fine like the Pink RAZR. I am turning both phones off (with their batteries fully charged) and putting them back in storage for now. My test result for the the Silver RAZR is that the three-year-old Lenmar battery on a single charge lasted just over six days!
2015 RESULTS: Motorola RAZR flip phone BR50/ BR56 replacement Lenmar CLM5696 battery test results: After a year of use and two years of being stored, both Lenmar batteries still performed well (see above). One lasted five and a half days and the other lasted six days. My verdict and recommendation: if you are looking for a BR50 or BR56 battery and you want the a good, inexpensive, reliable, long-lasting replacement battery for your Motorola RAZR flip phone, based on my test results above...
Why I recommend buying from Amazon: if you're going to buy the Lenmar battery that I recommend for your RAZR flip phone, I'd recommend you buy it from Amazon. Why Amazon? Because they sell a lot of stuff, and they turn their inventory over on a regular basis. When you get a lithium-ion rechargeable battery (or really any battery), you want it to be as new (fresh) as possible. If you buy from a small vendor who doesn't sell very many of a particular battery, the battery you get may have been sitting in a warehouse or on a shelf for a long, long time, and may have degraded over time. I'd buy the battery from Amazon where you'll probably get the "freshest" battery. I'd also buy directly from Amazon and not a third-party vendor on Amazon, even if they're a buck or two cheaper. Just my opinion.
A brief discourse of replacement battery price: It's always bugged me that an "original manufacturer" oem replacement rechargeable battery for a cell phone or digital camera can typically cost $30 to $50 bucks. That is just plain wrong. I'm big on principle, and I don't like to be ripped off or taken advantage of. I just don't think a battery should cost that much! I'd love to get the cheapest battery out there, but I also want to get a battery that will work, and that will hold a decent charge and will last several years. Over the years, I've found that most batteries that are "too" cheap don't work. So now I'm willing to pay a fair price to get a reliable battery, but I don't want to overpay! I've also learned, forgotten, and re-learned the age-ole lesson that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I've bought $3 to $5 batteries in the past on eBay (usually from China but sometimes from here in the US), and they've all been a disappointment. I should have known better. They just don't work well. But they're not worth the hassle and cost of returning them get my money back, so I usually just grumble and tell myself I should have known better. Now, when I need a replacement battery, I'm willing to pay a FAIR price for a reliable battery, but how does one know if a particular battery or brand is reliable? That's why I wrote this post for others to read. From my experience with my Motorola RAZR flip phones and my Nikon Coolpix camera, I've learned that Lenmar makes a decent replacement battery. Lenmar replacement batteries aren't cheap. The Lenmar batteries that I have bought have been about $10 a piece. But I don't mind paying that if I know they're going to work well (as well or better than the original battery), and from my experience, Lenmar batteries work and they last. That's why I recommend them. And I'm guessing there are a few other people like me out there (who don't mind paying fair price if they get a battery that really works), which is why I wrote and then updated this post.
* * * ARCHIVED CONTENT FROM 2012 BELOW * * *
ARCHIVE - The original long version of how I learned that Motorola stopped making BR50 and BR56 batteries several years ago, from my original 2012 post
[February, 2012] I have two Motorola RAZR flip phones, a pink one for my wife and a silver one for myself. They are the old-school flip phones that you talk on, and not the new hip Razr Droid smart phones. These old school Razr phones used to be "cutting edge" when they first came out, and were all the rage. I've had them for about five years, and they still work just fine, so I don't see any reason to replace them. I don't need a "smart" phone... I'm not addicted to the internet or to crazy birds. But the batteries in the phones are finally starting to die.
So last month I popped open the battery compartment and saw that they use a BR50 battery. I went on Amazon and found that I could buy a new, genuine oem BR50 battery for $4.70 with free shipping. That seemed reasonable for me, and I figured Amazon was a reliable place to shop (though it was through a third party company, but a company that had a good sounding name and was "approved" by Amazon), so I placed an order for one battery.
A few days later I received my "new" BR50 battery in the mail. It was actually not a BR50 battery as ordered, but was a BR56 battery. It also had a manufacturing date on it of 2007 (this is 2012), and looked surprisingly beat-up for a "new" battery (my guess is that it was salvaged from a discarded phone). I contacted the seller and complained that I got the wrong battery and it was 5 years old! I said I wanted the correct BR50 battery and I wanted one made within the last six months, or I wanted my money back. He told me he could get me a BR50 battery but the "newest" one he had was dated 2008. I told him that if that was the case, I wanted my money back, and I guess because he didn't want the bad feedback with Amazon he refunded my $4.70.
Disappointed with my Amazon "third party vendor" BR50 buying experience, I decide to trying buying it directly from a cell phone accessories provider website, and I was willing to pay more. BR50 vs BR56... I also did a little more research and discovered the BR56 would also work for the razr phone. The different between a Motorola BR50 and BR56 battery is that the BR56 holds a little bit more charge and thus lasts longer, but the BR50 and BR56 batteries are both the same size and both fit in the RAZR cell phone. Since I learned that the Motorola BR56 battery actually was a little better than the BR50 since it holds a little more charge and thus should give long talk times, I decided to search for the BR56 battery instead of the Motorola BR50. I did a quick Google shopping search for "Motorola BR56 battery" and found the following listing being sold by what appeared to be a reputable company.
Not wanting to be scammed again, I emailed the company first, and this is how the email exchange went with Tracy, the sales person at the cell phone accessories website:
[me] "I'm interested in your BR56 for $9.99 plus shipping [V3 Bulk Pkg Motorola Br 56 Std 780mAH Li Ion Batt]. Do you guarantee that it is a new and genuine Motorola battery? And what is the manufacturing date on the battery? I ask because I just bought a "new" BR56 on amazon and got ripped off (it turned out to be dated 2007 and looks used). Thanks in advance for your answer. Steve"
[Tracy, sales person] "I guarantee they are new and genuine. I do not know the dates because we are always getting new shipments so the batteries we have today probably will not be the ones that we have tomorrow. Tracy"
[me] "Tracy, Thank you for your quick reply about your BR56 battery. I understand you have inventory turnover. Can you tell me what the date (or at least the year) is on the BR56 batteries you currently have? I would think that if you are getting new shipments the batteries should be newer and not older than what you currently have. Also, can you guarantee that the battery I purchase would have been made at least in 2011, or what year? Thanks, Steve"
[Tracy, sales person] "Hi Steve. I have to check from the warehouse which is currently closed but if I am not mistaken this is the one that Motorola does not make anymore so the year would not be 2011. I would have to double check that. Tracy"
[me, the next day, after not hearing back on the actual date] "hi Tracy, Per your reply yesterday, can you check with your warehouse and find out what the year is on the dates on your Motorola BR56 batteries and let me know? Thanks. Steve"
[Tracy, sales person] "As I said Steve, These are no longer made and have not been for a couple of years. here is the date"
[me] "Thanks for your reply, but you said "here is the date" but I think you forgot to type the actual date? What is the date on them? Thanks"
[Tracy, sales person] "11/18/2009"
* * * * *
What I learned from this email exchange is that although seller will call their batteries "new" (and perhaps technically they are), what they won't necessarily disclose or tell you unless you pester them is... MOTOROLA DOESN'T MAKE BR50 OR BR56 BATTERIES ANYMORE, and hasn't for a while. And rechargeable batteries don't store for ever. After a year or two sitting around on a shelf, a battery that was new will lose most or all of its charging capability. So if anyone is telling you that they will sell you a NEW BR50 battery, ask them what "new" means, and when the battery was actually made.
But what are the alternatives for a BR50 or BR56 battery? Well, I believe there are some companies making BR50 and BR56 replacement batteries, and I intend to finish this once I've found a trustworthy solution, and share my answer with the world. Stay tuned.
Further update... It seems that Radio Shack offers a BR56 aftermarket brand called Lenmar. Best Buy also has their own aftermarket brand, but I've never heard of either of these aftermarket brands, and the online reviews for the Lenmar BR50/56 battery sound hit-or-miss. The batteries may also only be sold online, and I don't want to buy a battery unless I can go into the store and check what the manufacturing date is (and also easily return it if it turns out to be junk). I'm going to research these two after market brands, and then I'll update this again!
2013 update: Lenmar CLM5696 (Motorola BR50/BR56 equivalent) Lithium-Ion