Tuesday 1 June 2010

The battery life of Smartphones means we're now less mobile

If there is one area that has been (seemingly) neglected in the mobile device's march towards pre-eminence it is the humble battery.  The modern-day mobile phone has, alongside your keys and wallet (or purse), become part of the holy trinity - things that you just can't leave your home without.  But unfortunately, it appears that the mobile device's usefulness is inversely proportional to it's battery life - the more functionality, apps and features that you use your phone for, the less time it can last without a charge.  

The more useful your mobile phone becomes, the less you can use it!

It's like having a really fast car that can only maintain top speed for a few minutes before you need to stop and fill up with petrol (or maybe a Twettle that only boils one mug's worth of water?).

Is there an iPhone, Blackberry or Android user that isn't familiar with the rigmarole of turning WiFi on and off; dimming the screen; disabling push email; and shutting running apps to conserve that last 10% of battery life to see you home and to the sanctuary of a mains charger?  Is there anyone who doesn't have to stick their phone on to charge each night?  I remember a time when I didn't have to think ahead about what I was doing the next day, let alone the same day, to make sure that I had enough power in my phone.  Nowadays it's a must for fear of hitting the red.  

Ironically, my current mobile phone has made me less mobile, and with each iteration and upgrade it has got worse.

So what can be done?  Sure, I can make an effort to change my usage habits - perhaps not check my email so often for example, but that won't fix the issue only alleviate it for a short while.

As far as I see it, there are two things that need to improve - power consumption in devices and the amount of power in the battery.  I'm not sure that there is much that a single manufacturer can do - they need to work together to sort this one out because you can be sure that this is an issue that is only going to get worse.  

Unfortunately at the moment, rival manufacturers seem far more intent on slapping patent violation suit after patent violation suit on each other and demanding restrictions on sales than any sort of collaboration meaning that the likelihood of them addressing this together is slim.  And were one of them to harness the power of kryptonite for a mobile phone, it'll be locked down in so much legalese, the likelihood is that we won't see it for another 10 years and when we do no-one else will be able to benefit.

So I suspect that we'll be sticking to the nightly-charge routine for a while yet... 


  1. Not to mention the fact that I am petrified to take my smartphone out for fear of breaking or losing it.

  2. Hey Ade!

    In which case, check this site out - remote tracking of lost devices: https://www.ihoundsoftware.com/