Battery expectations

Some people are whining online that their smartphone doesn’t last for more than 1-2 days without recharging, while their 5 year old phone could last over 5-6 days before need any recharging. This is a fallacy. The new phones have better battery life than the older ones.

Consider this: Phones like a Blackberry, iPhone, Android, Symbian, etc. come with many media and internet-heavy applications. It’s now customary to check for email, to check Twitter, to check the internet-updated Weather app, to check stocks, sync between the phone and various online accounts many times a day, to check some RSS or web pages, to use Y! or Google maps. And on the side, play some music, quickly visit youtube, and maybe even watch a small TV episode while waiting on the bus.

All these things are features that you couldn’t do 5 years ago. At least not in a way that would be pleasurable. 5 years ago, you would check your voicemail, your SMS messages, and just do voice. And that was about it. No wonder you could do over 5 days in battery life.

What changed is HOW we use these phones. We now use these phones as mini-laptops. And yet, we expect them to have the same battery life as they had when they were dumb bricks. I am sorry to say that battery technology doesn’t move as fast as software tech does!

And then there’s the other thing. On platforms that allow background apps, the third party application designers only care about their little app and not the whole device. As long as they can invoke a network ping or connection when you are not looking to sync something, they are happy. Very seldom these app developers think what would happen if there are 5 (or 10) background apps installed and doing their own thing whenever they damn want. The user will see a big drop in battery life, and will place the fault at the phone manufacturer instead.

In conclusion, be objective when you are damning a manufacturer of bad battery life. Maybe there’s something you can do to better the experience (short of inventing a new kind of battery altogether).


l3v1 wrote on May 26th, 2009 at 2:03 AM PST:

Battery life s*cks for almost all phones these days, whatever you use them for. Something we somehow managed to accept, or at least don’t complain as much as would be needed, and sure as hell we don’t seem to complain with our money, that is we still buy them. What puts me more into complaining mode is the feature degradation some new phones seem to have, e.g. compare a Diamond2 with a Nokia N82 (easy to do a side-by-side comparison on gsmarena), which is two years older. If you don’t count the larger screen and the touch-only interface (which I hate, I mean not the touch interface itself, but the exclusivity of it) I’d still say the N82 is far superior. I’d expect a 2 years younger phone to be superior in every aspect. I wish.

This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on May 26th, 2009 at 10:26 AM PST:

I disagree. Batteries last more now than they did 2 years ago. What changed is the phone apps, how heavy their bg services are, and how often they touch the network, or how often you make them touch the network.

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