Are smartphone battery life improvements on the way?

We all want a little more power. Smartphone manufacturers have catered to this desire, as they’ve continually pumped out increasingly powerful devices.

This year we’re seeing many quad-core devices with 1.5GHz processors, powered by 4G LTE networks, and with vibrant high-resolution displays. Yet these high-powered devices are about to hit a wall if we don’t see some critical changes in battery efficiency. Without adequate battery life, even the most powerful smartphone is useless.

Thankfully, there are a few reasons to believe that we’ll see appropriate improvements in the near future. Here are three reasons why we will see smartphone battery life improve in the coming months and years. It will be a great boon to consumers, who will be able to use their phones heavily for longer.

1. Consumer disappointment

Earlier this year, Motorola made something of a bold move. In a world of thinning smartphones, it actually released, and heavily marketed, a smartphone that is considerably thicker than many of its other models.

This only worked, however, because with the increased thickness came greater battery life. By most reasonable tests, the Droid RAZR MAXX lasts nearly twice as long on a single battery charge than most of its competitors.

The rationale behind this marketing campaign was simple. People love their smartphones, but get frustrated when they can’t last on a single charge throughout a day. Again, a powerless smartphone is a useless smartphone.

You can stuff all the features in the world under the hood of a phone, but if people need to constantly recharge in order to use those features there’s not a lot to be gained. Improved battery life will simply become a necessity that manufacturers cannot ignore.

2. Changing energy trends

The way we consume energy is always changing. The recent technology revolution will change it yet again. Most of our modern computing devices employ DC power, but our wall sockets deliver AC power. That leads to a few inefficiencies, since the difference requires a converter of sorts, whether that’s in the device or in the power source itself. We might see that change in short order.

As Technology Review notes, there is a growing demand for DC current source. It is possible that we could see power companies start to deliver DC power to our outlets in the next few decades, which should make the whole charging and powering process more efficient. The lack of conversion could make that big a difference.

Yet, given our consume-driven culture, it probably won’t make as much of a difference as my next point.

3. Apple’s doing it

It seems that whatever Apple does, other companies copy. Apple has long been an iconic force in technology, and their iPad and iPhone empire has helped solidify its spot at the top.

What they do with the iPhone 5 could again change the smartphone industry. As GigaOM’s Kevin Tofel notes, Apple could focus on battery life with the new iPhone, rather than creating another thinner model. He cites the increased battery capacity of the new iPad, which seems reasonable enough.

Improving smartphone batteriesIf Apple does indeed create a thicker smartphone that focuses on battery life, others will be pressed to follow suit. Remember, Apple essentially tells consumers what they want. Perhaps they wanted it previously – and plenty of customers have demanded better battery life from smartphones – but Apple does have the definitive word.

It’s hard to explain, but it’s clearly the case based on how the smartphone industry has developed. If Apple goes for battery life, we can expect others to jump on the bandwagon too.

Battery life has become a pressing issue for the future of smartphones. Manufacturers have created devices that are as powerful as full-sized computers of recent memory. Now they need adequate power for them.

Since a powerless smartphone is a useless smartphone, expect companies to jump on the better-battery bandwagon soon enough. Apple could get things kick-started this year. Things will likely develop rapidly from there.

12 thoughts on “Are smartphone battery life improvements on the way?

  1. Hey Joe,

    Totally agreed with your view, Powerless smartphone is useless smartphone and companies has to work on to improve the battery life. Though I’m currently using Samsung smartphone, it’s battery life is good but not superb and I’m sure once Apple come up with low battery consuming smartphone… all companies would follow them.

  2. Unlike a lot of articles about portable technology, this article hits an extremely important niche on the head: the push for DC power sources.

    Most people don’t even think of DC, and how our electronics use the system, but are charged from another source. If we had DC sockets to power all of the devices in the US, I’d wager energy consumption would see an astronomical decrease!

    • Christopher (admin team)

      I will be interested to see how the AC vs DC debate unfolds in the near future.

      Thanks for the comment Pete, welcome to the community πŸ™‚
      Christopher – Admin Team

    • Absolutely Pete. I’m actually conducting a bunch of research into this now. It’s looking as though modern technology has proven Edison right.

  3. Battery life is a concern that many people have when buying a smartphone. Especially for people who’ve never had one before. Its nice to see the battery technology moving forward and new phones coming out with batteries with a larger amount of mAh. My phone has 1750 mAh which seems to be enough to get me through the day. But better battery life is always welcomed.

    • Christopher (admin team)

      If you think back 5 years, most mobile phones could go days without a charge, however now we have moved onto smartphones, we seem to need to charge them every day! A step forwards or backwards?

      Thanks for adding your view David, welcome to the community πŸ™‚
      Christopher – Admin Team

  4. The question is, is increasing the size of the battery the only way to increase battery life?
    Well, no !
    Researchers at Northwestern University have discovered that by modifying the chemical reaction taking place in an Li-ion battery the battery life can be enhanced substantially. This is done by adding silicon between graphene sheets in the battery instead of carbon in order to boost Li atoms.
    Since silicon is 24 times more efficient than carbon, these hybrid batteries will be a blessing in the future.

  5. Christopher (admin team)

    Good article Joe, it does amaze me how we seem to have gone backwards, like I said to David above:
    “If you think back 5 years, most mobile phones could go days without a charge, however now we have moved onto smartphones, we seem to need to charge them every day! A step forwards or backwards?”
    They are obviously so more capable devices now, but only whilst they have charge in them!

    Thanks for writing for us Joe πŸ™‚

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