Neo 1973 Battery
The battery is a one 3.7V (nominal) cell. It has internal protection circuitry, and a capacity of 1200mAh.
On the battery, which has dimensions of approximately 53mm*38mm*7mm is written "FIC, First International Computer, Model: GTC-01/GTA-01, Standard Battery Pack, 1200mAh Li-ion, Rechargeable Battery: 3.7V".
It is apparently compatible with the Nokia BL-5C See this mailing list post These are available very inexpensively from ebay. Though quality will of course vary. However, currently Neo1973 won't charge BL-5C batteries. Also note that the BL-5C is rated at 850mAh new, only 70% of the FIC battery.
BL-5C battery will work in Neo, but not the other way around. Battery is too thick for Nokia, and attempting to use Neo battery in Nokia will result in Nokia entering strange "test mode". This is because of the pack supervisor chip (the small chip in all Li-* batteries that takes care of charging the pack properly) which also contains some identification data (e.g. serial number, part number etc.), which identification data Nokia uses to perform several tasks, such as entering the aforementioned test mode. If you look in the Nokia service manuals, you will see that the debug rig for mostly all Nokia phones includes a so-called "debug battery adapter" which fits inside the phone, instead of the battery, but replies with a special identification when inquired by the phone upon boot, thus triggering "test mode".
This is also the reason why Nokia phones (and, presumably, all Nokia standalone smart-chargers) will refuse to charge a Neo1973 battery because it does not match the identification code expected by the phone firmware.
Nokia BL-6C is a bit thicker than BL-5C, but (almost?) identical in all other dimensions and electrically. It'll fit nicely inside Neo too. The original BL-6C is 1070mAh compared to BL-5C 850mAh making it a slightly more interesting replacement battery.
Modding BL-6C  is only needed on some Nokia phones, there is no need for modding it - BL-6C will fit without problems in Neo.
BL-5C/6C can be charged with some external charger like  this one. The important thing on that crappy 5$ charger is, that you have to press the battery very firmly into the holder until the green LED starts to blink. This could be a contact problem or the black little square inside the holder (visible when disassembled) is some kind of 'detector'. Works with USB adapter cable, external AC power supply, most likely car cirgarette charger, but not with those small 1.5V 'charge anything' thingies that are currently around.
Whatever batteries fit physically need to be chargeable in situ, otherwise we are asking people to carry external chargers around if such things are available - remember that the ability to charge Li-* batteries outside of their intended product(s) is quite rare.
Neo1973 will happily run off 3 NiMH batteries, with thermistor disconnected.
|NOTE: This is not recommended as the charging modes for NiMH and Li-Ion are different. The Neo1973 u-boot and kernel will assume the battery is Li-Ion and charge it appropriately. You thus might damage your batteries!!|
Being able to use AA/AAA batteries would make the device much more open to this respect but should be regarded as a step backwards. However, no problem if their charging might well need some external appliance, or be impossible for non rechargeable pills. But would it be possible to autodetect Li-Ion batteries and refuse, or warn, on attempt to charge other types?