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The demand for greater battery life in low-power consumer electronics and implantable medical devices presents a need for improved energy efficiency in the management of small rechargeable cells. This paper describes an ultra-compact analog lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery charger with high energy efficiency. The charger presented here utilizes the tanh basis function of a subthreshold operational transconductance amplifier to smoothly transition between constant-current and constant-voltage charging regimes without the need for additional area- and power-consuming control circuitry. Current-domain circuitry for end-of-charge detection negates the need for precision-sense resistors in either the charging path or control loop. We show theoretically and experimentally that the low-frequency pole-zero nature of most battery impedances leads to inherent stability of the analog control loop. The circuit was fabricated in an AMI 0.5-μm complementary metal-oxide semiconductor process, and achieves 89.7% average power efficiency and an end voltage accuracy of 99.9% relative to the desired target 4.2 V, while consuming 0.16 mm2 of chip area. To date and to the best of our knowledge, this design represents the most area-efficient and most energy-efficient battery charger circuit reported in the literature.