Are third-party cell phone battery manufacturers deceiving their customers?

1400mAh. 2500mAh! 10 million mAh! Ah-ah-ah!

The vast majority of consumers don’t have a clue as to what those little numbers on their cell phones battery mean. Like with processor clock speeds and television refresh rates, we all tend to just assume that bigger numbers = better product. So when Joe Consumer sees some third-party manufacturer touting their batteries with ratings double that of what the official battery offers, it seems like a killer deal.

Alas, it appears that some of these third-party manufacturers might be pulling the oldest marketing trick in the world: flat-out lying.

Armed with a nothing but a fancy battery testing suite and a desire for honesty, a gent named Doug Simmons set out to put third-party battery ratings to the test. He asked his online cohorts to loan him their third-party wares, and the brawl began.

His findings? While OEM batteries are clocking in at right around the promised rating, third-party batteries.. aren’t.

Now, no one really expects the “official” batteries sold on eBay to be.. you know, official. And they most certainly aren’t. Pitched as being one-to-one matches with the real deal, some of these bootlegs are failing to perform even half as well as the original.

That part’s obvious. You get what you pay for. But it goes beyond eBay: even amongst the (fairly pricey) batteries of some of the more well-known third parties (like Seido, or Mugen), Doug is seeing discrepancies left and right. Take Seido’s 1600mAh replacement for the Nexus One, for example. The battery is pitched as being about 14% stronger than the Nexus One’s original 1400mAh battery (which, by the way, tested at a very acceptable 1357mAh) — but in Doug’s tests, this “bigger” battery is actually clocking in at a lower capacity (1317mAh) than the original.

Doug’s only tested around a dozen batteries so far, but the results are eye opening; while the OEM batteries are almost always reasonably accurate to their promised rating, the third-party batteries are consistently 20-30% weaker than advertised. Check out his results so far here — and if you’ve got a new-condition battery for him to take a crack at, be sure to get in touch.