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Wireless earphone boom gives boost to LG, Samsung’s micro battery biz

Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy Buds Pro (Samsung Electronics)
Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy Buds Pro (Samsung Electronics)
As AirPods and Galaxy Buds become ever more popular, the demand for micro batteries has spiked, benefiting South Korean battery manufactures LG Energy Solution and Samsung SDI.

According to Counterpoint Research data, the size of the global wireless earphone market is estimated to have reached 220 million units last year from 120 million units from a year prior.

Accordingly, the global micro battery market is estimated to have enjoyed a 90 percent growth, a major boon for LG Energy Solution’s cylindrical micro batteries and Samsung SDI’s coin cell batteries.

A set of wireless earphones requires total three batteries. A micro battery for each of the two earbuds and one pouch-type polymer battery for the charging case. As the name suggests, micro batteries mounted on earbuds must be extremely small and light, but have to be powerful enough to enable long hours of play time and noise-cancelling functions. Above all, they must be safe and not explode.

For such technological requirements, LG Energy Solution and Samsung SDI, with their decades of experience in battery development and production, have been making progress in the micro battery market.

Apple, which signaled the new era of wireless earphones by launching AirPods in 2016, reportedly used LG Energy Solution’s cylindrical micro batteries. However, due to their long shape, cylindrical micro batteries limited the structural freedom of wireless earphones, which is why Apple moved on to coin cell batteries for its AirPods Pro series beginning last year. As the market gradually shifts to coin cell batteries, LG is currently reviewing a coin cell business.

Meanwhile, Samsung SDI launched a coin cell battery business for wireless earphones last year, as the global micro battery market, which stood at 300 million cells in 2019, is expected to reach 1.2 billion cells by 2025, with an average annual growth of 26 percent, according to the company.

“The sales of coin cell batteries account for a small part of overall sales, but as they are high value-added products, they will contribute to improving our profitability,” a Samsung SDI official said.

Last year, coin cell batteries accounted for 57 percent of the global micro battery market, while cylindrical micro batteries took up 18 percent. The rest belonged to pouch-type polymer batteries, according to Counterpoint Research.

By Kim Byung-wook (