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Smartphone battery life isn't keeping pace with hardware innovation

By Shawn Knight · 8 replies
Nov 2, 2018
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  1. Headlines for years have been filled with promises about next-gen battery technology yet somehow, the advancements we read about never materialize into commercial components. Modern battery technology like what’s inside your smartphone is damn impressive but as hardware becomes more demanding, batteries may not be keeping pace.

    Geoffrey A. Fowler with The Washington Post recently tested the battery life of 13 flagship phones from 2017 and 2018. Most would probably expect the newer phones to outperform the older handsets but the test results painted a bit of a different picture.

    As you can see, several of the older phones like the Pixel 2 and the iPhone 8 outlasted newer models such as the Pixel 3 and the iPhone XS.

    There are plenty of factors impacting a phone’s battery life but the biggest seem to be related to the screen. Newer tech like OLED consumes more juice, as do higher-resolution screens and running at maximum brightness settings.

    The iPhone XR and Galaxy Note 9, which beat out all other devices by a sizable margin, are outliers really. The iPhone XR uses an older LCD screen with a lower resolution while Samsung has simply packed the Note 9 with a larger battery compared to its predecessor (4,000mAh in the Note 9 versus 3,300mAh in last year’s Note 8).

    Lead image via diluck, Shutterstock

    Permalink to story.

  2. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,892   +2,219

    Well that's because they make the battery smaller to make our phones thinner, something nobody is asking for. Energy density is going up but that doesn't matter if the volume used to store energy is reduced
    5W33J1N, Reehahs, alabama man and 5 others like this.
  3. gigantor21

    gigantor21 TS Maniac Posts: 172   +233

    I would gladly take a phone with a few extra mm of depth in exchange for better battery life.
    Underdog, 5W33J1N, Reehahs and 4 others like this.
  4. OutlawCecil

    OutlawCecil TS Guru Posts: 679   +495

    Things to keep in mind...

    1. Newer tech is smaller. The smaller it is, the less power it wastes.
    2. Charging tech IS getting better. OnePlus phones charge to 50% power in very few minutes. (10ish?)
    3. There are some technologies being worked on to "beam" power to your phone without plugging it into anything or laying it on a specific surface. This could also be a solution in the meantime when it becomes mainstream. Imagine an "eye" you put on your ceiling which locates your phone sitting on a surface and can track it and push power to it. (without causing cancer to residents I might add)
    4. There is incredible push for tech companies to make slightly thicker phones to support more battery life but tech companies seem to ignore requests for it. (Possibly trying to avoid even larger explosions from malfunctioning batteries?)

    Me personally? I just need my phone to last through the day regardless of what I use it for. My OnePlus 3T lasts about a day and a half of decent use. Heavy use still allows it to last until I sleep and charge it so it's fine.
    Reehahs likes this.
  5. Nobina

    Nobina TS Evangelist Posts: 1,944   +1,492

    How come? Every month or so I read about some breakthrough battery technology.
    alabama man likes this.
  6. ChrisH1

    ChrisH1 TS Addict Posts: 139   +67

    The old way of doing things, with an external battery so you could get one as big as you liked was better.
  7. alabama man

    alabama man TS Guru Posts: 563   +355

    I have no battery problems and I have all the things I need on my phone. Bought it for 300€ two years ago and will probably use it for 5+ years. I don't need to render anything on my phone, it plays youtube and browses internet so good I bet I wouldn't notice any difference to a 1000$ phone, only that I would be afraid to use it in public as I would fear getting robbed. Also they would need to decapitate me to open my phone instead of just cutting off one finger. If you don't have PC or are a power user you might need a 1000$ phone, I just haven't seen anyone who actually needed one, just a couple of "fashionable" women who clearly didn't need the power, only the status.
    Underdog and treetops like this.
  8. gcarter

    gcarter TS Enthusiast Posts: 100   +35

    I always wished for phones which could be solar powered, like some calculators. Instead of face recognition guff, just slap a big ol solar panel into the phones "notch" and boom limitless power :)
  9. p51d007

    p51d007 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,967   +1,230

    I pass on the thin is in crap. If I can't get a phone with a 4,000mAH battery, I don't even bother.
    Phones use to be thicker, but that was before the fashion industry took over.
    Now it's all about how sleek, stylish, THIN and colorful it is. Screw that. I want a beefy phone
    with a large battery, which is what the Huawei Mate series has.

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