Mobile World Congress has been home to some truly unique smartphone designs this year, and one of the strangest has to be the Energizer PowerMax P18K Pop, an attention-grabbing brick of a smartphone with an 18,000mAh battery.
I know what you’re going to ask: “Wait, Energizer makes phones?” Yes, this is something like the 45th announced Energizer phone. Energizer Holdings licenses its brand to Avenir Telecom for mobile phones, and this French company has been using the brand to pump out generic-looking feature phones and smartphones since 2016.
The Energizer Mobile page is here, but it does not acknowledge the existence of the P18K anywhere. The only official info we have to go on is a BusinessWire press release with a single (comically misleading) picture. I think some skepticism of Energizer Mobile is warranted since last year at Mobile World Congress when the company showed off the Power Max P16K Pro, a phone with a 16,000mAh battery. The company gave it a launch date of September 2018 and a $ 738 price tag, but it never made it to market and, according to GSMArena, has been cancelled. Avenir also brought what looks to be a plastic mockup of a foldable 5G phone to MWC, which doesn’t seem to have a high chance of actually hitting the market.
So, assuming the P18K is not another piece of vaporware, Avenir’s press release says it has a 6.2-inch, 2220×1080 display (third-party reports say it’s an LCD), a MediaTek Helio P70 chipset, 6GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. There are three rear cameras and two front cameras that exist in a pop-up section on the top of the phone rather than taking up display space. With no front cameras to worry about, the display has been graced with some very thin bezels.
The press release promises “Users will be able to make up to 90hrs of calls, listen to 100hrs of music and watch around 2 days of video on a single charge. In standby mode, the battery lasts up to 50 days.” You can also use the phone to charge other devices via a USB cable.
GSMArena was able to track down the phone at Mobile World Congress and filled in a lot of the blanks in Avenir’s online presence. The report says the phone is 18mm thick, which is more than two normal-sized smartphones stacked together. We can also see the phone from multiple angles, which is nice.
For an 18mm thick smartphone, there are still a lot of design decisions here that seem inherited from size-constrained smartphones. For instance, there’s a side-mounted fingerprint reader, but the sensor is a skinny reader designed to fit on a normal, 8mm-thick smartphone. That doesn’t make any sense on an 18mm-thick smartphone, which could easily fit a full-sized, round fingerprint reader on the side. There’s no headphone jack, and I can’t believe there isn’t room for one on an 18mm thick smartphone. There’s also still a camera bump on the back, which is a compromise specifically to let larger camera modules fit inside of thin smartphones. Rather than designing something without the current size constraints of smartphones, it seems like Avenir just took a generic 8mm-thick smartphone and slapped a power bank on the back.
I applaud any company willing to venture outside of the usual anorexic smartphone profile, but it seems like there are better ways to go about it than this. Customer surveys regularly list battery life as one of the major downsides of modern smartphone design, and the obvious, easy fix to this is to just make slightly thicker smartphones with bigger batteries. Making a phone 18mm thick seems just a bit overboard, though, and other than a larger battery, it doesn’t seem like Avenir really thought about the possible benefits of a larger smartphone.