CR123 vs. CR123A Batteries: Which Ones Are better?

CR123 and CR123A batteries are lithium-based batteries that work great for small–high output devices like cameras, light meters, smart home devices, high tech torches, tactical equipment and other battery-powered devices. 

But of the two, which one is better? 

Let's dig deeper and try to spot the difference between a CR123 and a

CR123A battery.

What Are CR123 Batteries?

CR123s are small, 3V high-powered lithium batteries. They’re designed for use in small gadgets like alarms, flashlights, cameras and other household electronics.

Their power capacity typically ranges between 1,500 mAh (milliampere hour) and 2,500mAh. 

Most brands of CR123s can operate at ranges between 1,000 mA & 2,000mA of continuous current and up to 3,000 mA pulse current.

The mAh rating on these batteries means most of them can power a device drawing 100 mA (milliamperes) for up to 30 hours.

Note: Milliampere hours (mAh) measure the energy capacity of the battery (how much power you can draw out of a battery and for how long).

What Are CR123A Batteries? 

CR123As are small high voltage batteries.

They’re typically used for small appliances that need lots of power, like high-performance LED torches and digital cameras. 

CR123A battery are generally about 33.4 mm long and 17 mm in diameter, with a weight of about 17 grams. 

Their power capacity typically ranges between 1,500 mAh (milliampere hour) and 2,500mAh. 

Most CR123As operate can operate at ranges between 1,500 mA & 2,500mA of continuous current and up to 3,000 mA pulse current.

The rating means that just like the CR123, they can give a 30-hour power time to a 100 mA device.

  CR123 CR123A
Classification Lithium
Chemistry Lithium/Manganese Dioxide Lithium/Manganese Dioxide
Nominal Voltage 3V 3V
Capacity 2,000 mAh 2,000 mAh
Weight 16.5 g 16 g
Length 34 mm 34.4 mm
Width 16.5 mm 17 mm

CR123 vs. CR123A — Is There Any Difference?

Is there really any difference between the two lithium batteries? Let’s take a look at a few metrics for comparison.


Both CR123 and CR123A batteries are compact and designed to pack a punch. Their small size relative to the power they give makes them both ideal picks for small devices that use lots of power, like high output LED lights.

123s are generally longer and thinner than 123As. However, the difference is not more than 0.55 mm in either direction. The dimensions are usually slightly different with each manufacturer, making it hard to tell the two apart.

Compared to alkaline AA batteries (average length of 44 mm), they are both significantly shorter but give twice as much voltage. You can get 6V from two CR123’s that cover a way shorter configuration than 3V from two AAs.

Life Span 

Both batteries have a similar shelf life of up to 10 years before use when stored at a temperature of less than 60°C

When using them in your devices, they are both long lasting. The exact life span depends on the gadget and the manufacturer. For example, they can last for up to five years in an alarm system.


Both standard 123s and 123As come with a nominal voltage of 3 volts. Their standard loaded voltage typically ranges from 2 to 2.5 volts. 

In simple terms, both cells have a high potential to push electric current through the device, especially given their small size.

There is typically no significant difference between the voltage on the two battery types.


Both types of batteries use a lithium-based salt as an electrolyte with a Lithium and Manganese dioxide (LiMnO2) chemical system. The cathode (positive terminal) is made of heat-treated manganese dioxide on both types of cells.

The chemical system works in the exact same way, giving a high energy density per mass (280 Wh/kg) and per volume (580 Wh/litre). 

Note: Wh (watt-hour) is a unit that measures the energy density of the battery. Wh per kg or litre measures the battery energy per unit of mass or volume respectively.


Lithium can be a dangerous chemical, especially if it comes into contact with the skin. Moreover, the high voltage can damage devices. 

Both 123s and 123As come with PTC (Pressure, Temperature, Current) protection which disconnects the circuit if the current gets too high. 

So, what's the final verdict? 

Are CR123 and CR123A batteries the Same?

It’s safe to say the only major difference between the two is the letter A. When you compare their functionality, performance, lifespan and chemistry, the two are essentially one and the same thing. 

Both batteries can support high performance devices, including those that require occasional discharges of high power output like digital cameras with flashes and high tech LED torches.

In fact, each manufacturer uses a different designation for the same kind of battery. For example: 

  • Energizer –123
  • Rayovac — 123A
  • Duracell — CR123
  • Panasonic — CR123A 

The difference in dimensions is so insignificant that both batteries can be used interchangeably in all devices. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the CR stand for?

The prefix CR is used by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) to show that the battery uses lithium chemistry, specifically LiMnO2 (Lithium-Ion Manganese Oxide).

The C denotes Lithium, and R means the batteries are round. The numbers that follow describe the size of the battery. 123A stands for one battery that’s two-thirds the size of a standard A battery. Some manufacturers simply omit the A at the end. 

Can I Use Rechargeable and Non-Rechargeable CR123A Batteries Interchangeably?

It won’t damage your device if you do; however, a rechargeable and non rechargeable batteries may have different voltages and capacities. Also, the dimensions may be slightly different. 

Some devices will only work properly with either one of the two, so check the specifications on your device first before switching out. 

Are All CR 123A Batteries the Same?

In terms of their specs, all 123As have the same basic capabilities. However, each manufacturer may add different features and aesthetics to differentiate their products. 

For most tried and tested brands like Panasonic, Energizer, Duracell, or Duracell CR123A Equivalents, you shouldn’t be able to tell the difference. But if the battery is not made in the USA, it may differ from the standard 123, so make sure to check manufacturer information.

Get the Best Battery for Your High Output Device

good quality lithium battery is your best bet for long lasting power in a small package. Look no further than the Battery Specialists for a wide range of lithium CR123A batteries at affordable prices to choose from. 

We stock only the best quality brands with a 30-day money-back guarantee to prove it. Get your batteries today for reliable power at affordable prices.