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3500mAh 18650 Li-ion cells' discharge capacity test (Sanyo NCR18650GA vs Panasonic NCR18650GA vs LG MJ1 vs Samsung INR18650-35E)

Hi guys! I’ve got four 3500mAh batteries from top manufacturers. I’ve tested and compared them. I think it’s interesting not only for me, but also for you, the guy who is reading this:)
3500mAh 18650 Li-ion cells' discharge capacity test (Sanyo NCR18650GA vs Panasonic NCR18650GA vs LG MJ1 vs Samsung INR18650-35E)

The cells were bought from Queen Battery, a Chinese supplier of genuine batteries, who specializes mainly on EV and eBike market. Queen Battery has a branch in Europe, but they also work with customers from Americas, Russia, etc…

As always, I've tested with ZKETECH EBC-A20 and a self-made battery holder. It's a PC-connected battery tester supporting 4-wire measuring and discharging at up to 20A.

I've followed all the prescriptions of the IEC61960-2003 standard concerning battery's capacity measurement. Before each discharging cycle each battery was charged at standard current mentioned in its datasheet to 4.2V (cut-off at 0.1A, which is the lowest supported by EBC-A20). Before each discharging or charging i've held a 1-1.5hrs pause. The environment temperature was 20-25°C (21-23°C to be honest).

Discharge cut-off voltage was 2.5V for Sanyo, Panasonic and LG and 2.65V for Samsung (following their datasheets). Discharging currents were 10A, 8A, 5A, 2A and 0.2C which was 0.67A for Sanyo and Panasonic and 0.68A for LG and Samsung.

I’d like to mention, that Sanyo and Panasonic are the same company now and I use different brands just to distinguish Japanese made NCR18650GA marked as SANYO from Chinese made NCR18650GA which doesn’t have brand marking but is designed in Panasonic style. So let’s start!


Sanyo NCR18650GA

This cell’s marking is SANYO L NCR18650GA 7401. The “L” means that it was made by Sanyo Energy Higashiura Co. LTD, Japan. Here is its datasheet (pdf).
Sanyo NCR18650GA Japan 3500mAh

The main specifications of NCR18650GA according to it's datasheet:
Rated capacity: 3300mAh (0.67A discharge at 20°C)
Capacity (min): 3350mAh (0.67A discharge at 25°C)
Capacity (typical): 3450mAh
Discharge cut-off voltage: 2.5V
Max continuous discharge current: 10A
Standard charging current: 1.675A
Max charging current: 3.35A
Charge end voltage: 4.20V ± 0.03V

Here are the results I’ve got:
Sanyo NCR18650GA capacity test
As you can see, at 0.2C (0.67A) it gave out 3491mAh / 12.64Wh which is much more than the typical capacity of 3450mAh declared in the datasheet. The results at higher discharge rates are:
2A: 3351mAh / 11.88Wh
5A: 3323mAh / 11.27Wh
8A: 3286mAh / 10.76Wh
10A: 3295mAh / 10.60Wh

Almost 3300mAh at 10A! And the curve has no sudden falls. I think it’s a brilliant result, bravo Sanyo!

Panasonic NCR18650GA

This guy is the twin brother of Sanyo. The wrapping is in traditional Panasonic style and has “Made in China” and D 75051W markings.
Panasonic NCR18650GA China 3500mAh

The cell was made in Suzhou, China, at Panasonic’s new battery plant. It shares the same specifications and the same datasheet with Sanyo NCR18650GA, which is not a surprise as far as they have the same model number.

The Chinese NCR18650GA showed the following results:
Panasonic NCR18650GA capacity test
At 0.2C (0.67A) it gave out 3448mAh / 12.53Wh - exactly the same capacity which is mentioned as “typical” in the datasheet. It’s lower than the Japanese one’s result, but still a great one. At higher rates:
2A: 3305mAh / 11.69Wh
5A: 3295mAh / 11.13Wh
8A: 3286mAh / 10.73Wh
10A: 3250mAh / 10.31Wh

The results are a bt lower than those of the Sanyo, but the difference is not critical. Sanyo’s results can also differ from cell to cell, so the main thing is that it complies with the datasheet’s typical capacity. At 8A there is almost no difference and at 10A the difference is only 45mAh.

LG INR18650 MJ1

This battery is made in South Korea (I guess) and the wrapping has the following marking: LGDBMJ11865 P274I301A1. The pdf datasheet of MJ1 is here.
LG INR18650 MJ1 3500mAh

The main specifications of LG MJ1 according to it's datasheet:
Capacity (nominal): 3500mAh (at 0.68A discharge)
Capacity (minimum): 3400mAh (at 0.68A discharge)
Discharge cut-off: 2.5V
Max continuous discharge current: 10A
Standard charging current: 1.7A
Max charging current: 3.4A
Charging end voltage: 4.20V ± 0.05V

The standard charging and discharging currents are a bit higher than NCR18650GA’s, but the cut-off voltage is the same.
LG INR18650 MJ1 3500mAh capacity test
At 0.2C / 0.68A the capacity was 3384mAh / 12.32Wh which is lower than the minimum declared in the datasheet. Not a good start for a heavyweight player. The results at higher rates:
2A: 3275mAh / 11.62Wh
5A: 3258mAh / 10.98Wh
8A: 3208mAh / 10.39Wh
10A: 3205mAh / 10.09Wh

I can’t call these results great or even good. Maybe they could be good if the cell was marked as a 3400mAh one, but for a 3500mAh cell it’s a fail. Surprisingly the results at 8A and 10A are almost identical.

Samsung INR18650-35E

This cell is also South Korean and it is marked INR18650-35E SAMSUNG SDI 2G25. Here is the pdf datasheet of INR18650-35E.
Samsung INR18650-35E 3500mAh

The main specifications of INR18650-35E according to it's datasheet:
Capacity (min): 3350mAh (at 0.68A discharge)
Capacity (typical): 3400mAh
Discharge cut-off: 2.65V
Max continuous discharge current: 8A
Standard charging current: 1.7A
Max charging current: 2.0A
Charging end voltage: 4.20V

Pay attention to the discharge cut-off voltage – it’s higher than that of others. Max charging current is only 2A which is slightly higher than the standard charging current and significantly lower than 3.4A allowed for Sanyo/Panasonic and LG. Max continuous discharge current is limited by 8A, but I have tested it at 10A for comparison.
Samsung INR18650-35E capacity test
At 0.2C (0.68A) the second Korean guy shows 3488mAh / 12.63Wh even having discharging cut-off at 2.65V! I want to remind the result of Japanese made NCR18650GA with 2.5V cut-off: 3491mAh / 12.64Wh – the difference is only 3mAh / 0.01Wh!!! Bravo Samsung! The results at higher rates:
2A: 3384mAh / 11.90Wh
5A: 3317mAh / 11.08Wh
8A: 3248mAh / 10.47Wh
10A: 3205mAh / 10.14Wh

At 10A it’s slightly higher than the LG MJ1, but don’t forget that the Samsung’s max discharging current is 8A and the MJ1 was discharged to 2.5V.

COMPARISON

Looking at the heroes one by one is interesting, but more interesting is to compare them. I will not compare at 0.2C because the “0.2C” is not the same for all 4 batteries.

So let’s start with 2A:
3500mAh 18650 Li-ion cells' discharge capacity test (Sanyo NCR18650GA vs Panasonic NCR18650GA vs LG MJ1 vs Samsung INR18650-35E)
Samsung continues its surprises! Even with 2.65V discharge cut-off it managed to overtake the Sanyo NCR18650GA! Sanyo is the second, Panasonic – the third and LG is the last. The difference between Samsung and LG is 109mAh / 28Wh.

5A discharge:
3500mAh 18650 Li-ion cells' discharge capacity test (Sanyo NCR18650GA vs Panasonic NCR18650GA vs LG MJ1 vs Samsung INR18650-35E)
Sanyo takes over Samsung thanks to it’s 2.5V discharge cut-off voltage. The battle between Samsung and Panasonic for the second place is lost by Samsung because although it has higher capacity (3317mAh vs 3295mAh), Panasonic has higher energy: 11.13Wh vs 11.08Wh. So Samsung is the third and LG is the fourth as expected.

8A discharge:
3500mAh 18650 Li-ion cells' discharge capacity test (Sanyo NCR18650GA vs Panasonic NCR18650GA vs LG MJ1 vs Samsung INR18650-35E)
The two NCR18650GAs showed the same capacity, but the Japanese one has 0.03Wh more energy given out, so the first place is occupied by him. The third is Samsung’s nimble 35E and LG is… yes, the fourth.

10A discharge:
3500mAh 18650 Li-ion cells' discharge capacity test (Sanyo NCR18650GA vs Panasonic NCR18650GA vs LG MJ1 vs Samsung INR18650-35E)
Sanyo proves that he is number one and there can’t be another opinion. The difference between Japanese and Chinese NCR18650GAs is 45mAh / 29Wh. Panasonic is the second, LG has lost the third place to Samsung despite its specs.

CONCLUSION

The Japanese made NCR18650GA’s triumph was not a surprise for me, but the brilliant show by Samsung was! Nevertheless, Sanyo NCR18650GA is the number one, Panasonic NCR18650GA is not the same but very close to its Japanese bro and is the number two. Samsung showed an exceptional performance at 0.2C and 2A but at higher discharge rates Panasonic was better. LG is the outsider of this division. It’s not a bad battery, but the competitors are better.
3500mAh 18650 Li-ion cells' discharge capacity test (Sanyo NCR18650GA vs Panasonic NCR18650GA vs LG MJ1 vs Samsung INR18650-35E)

The prices (without shipping) at the moment of purchase were the following:
Sanyo/Panasonic NCR18650GA: US$3.70
Samsung INR18650-35E: US$3.10
LG INR18650 MJ1: US$3.10
For the latest pricelist, shipping rates and discounts drop an e-mail to wangxin570@gmail.com (Queen Battery’s sales manager). They can also make battery packs on demand.

For those who prefer watching than reading I’ve made the video version of this test. Watch it on YouTube:
3500mAh 18650 Li-ion cells' discharge capacity test (Sanyo NCR18650GA vs Panasonic NCR18650GA vs LG MJ1 vs Samsung INR18650-35E)

Check out my YouTube channel for batteries, chargers and other stuff reviews.

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