Smartphones are unquestionably one of the most useful devices of the 21st century but they continue to have one critical flaw – battery life. We’ve all been there – you forgot to charge your smartphone and you have 10% battery life left to see you through the day.
You think of ways to charge it, perhaps stopping off at a local coffee shop to hook up to a power adapter, switching the phone off to make an important call later, or maybe you’ve even purchased a portable power pack to charge it on the go.
The trouble is, few if any manufacturers seem to have cottoned on to just how much each of us uses our smartphone. They, and sadly many consumers as well, have been obsessed with size and weight but they forget that smartphones are no longer just things we use lightly for an hour a day.
Many of us play games, check out Facebook or news apps, navigate using a Sat Nav app or Google Maps, download, read and reply to emails and all manner of other things in addition to make cellular calls and send text messages. We’ll do these things on the train, at work, while we’re in the bath tub and even in bed.
Sadly, while the processing power and features of modern smartphones is more than up to the task, especially with 4G data speeds coming on tap in many different countries, their batteries simply aren’t. In fact they’re still using comparatively old technology that pre-dates the smartphone itself. There are two main issues with all current smartphone batteries. They take a long time to charge and they lack capacity.
The former might seem like an odd issue to raise but imagine if you could charge your smartphones to 80 or 90% in less than five minutes? Hook it up while you’re having breakfast and by the time you’re ready to leave for school or work, it’s nearly fully charged. This would drastically improve the situation but as is stands, even connecting your smartphone to a mains socket as opposed to your laptop’s USB port, it’s still likely to take a at least an hour to fully charge a smartphone from flat.
Capacity is the real crux of the issue, though, and it’s what makes smartphone battery cases so popular. These are cases with integrated batteries that you can switch on to charge your phone, basically doubling its battery life. Heavy users likely find the need to charge their phones once a day – a battery case can extend this to two days. But what if a single charge could last for a week of heavy use? Does charging your phone on Sunday night and even with a week of heavy use, not having to charge it till the weekend sound good?
I doubt anyone would answer no to that question but for me, battery life is becoming increasingly irritating. In fact, my next smartphone purchase will likely put battery life near or at the top of my list of priorities.
After all, there are only so many new features you can add to smartphones, which already offer fast cellular and WiFi speeds, GPS, Blutooth, Near Field Communication, touch screens, high resolution cameras with flash and curved screens to name a few, and you can’t use any of these with a flat battery.
The latest mobile sales figures show that plenty of people are willing to jump ship from Android to IOS and vice versa and I for one would be the first to do so if one manufacturer introduced a phone with a significantly improved battery life. I’d even go as far as saying I’d accept a modest increase in thickness and weight if only to get better battery life. You can also replace your smartphone’s battery – even on an iPhone as I wrote about in a previous article.
Thankfully there is some hope on the horizon too. Several manufacturers have been looking into ways of getting smartphones themselves to generate power, either through small solar cells or movement. There’s also new battery technologies that make use of revolutionary materials such as graphene, that have the potential to increase the power density of current battery sizes many-fold.
One thing is for certain though. Whichever manufacturer comes up with the breakthrough first is going to sell smartphones by the bucketload and will likely make its shareholders very happy indeed.