At the moment Android 2.2 has a pretty incomprehensible icon of a battery that shows remaining strength.
Is there a way to switch that to a numeric display (like is available on the iPhone)?
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You can try Battery Notif free from Android Market.
Bardcode Scanner compatible store link
Battery indicator is a free app that does this: https://www.appbrain.com/app/com.darshancomputing.BatteryIndicator
Unfortunately, it doesn't replace the stock icon, it just adds another that displays the numbers. I'm not aware of any way to replace or change the stock icon, even with root access.