Back in May, I did an article titled Modern Smartphones and Battery Life. In that article, I mentioned several factors that have resulted in many modern smartphones not having exemplary battery lives:
- large, bright displays
- powerful processors
- always-on 3G connections
- long list of features
However, having taken a critical look at my own experiences as case studies, it looks like there are simply two factors that have impacted battery life more than any others. Interestingly, those two factors have to do with only one aspect of our devices – the display.
The two factors:
- display size
- touchscreen functionality
I will also add that it takes more powerful processors to run the user interfaces smoothly on those large displays.
The Culprits – Large Touchscreen Displays
Before you dismiss my submission, consider that the smartphone champions in terms of battery life are ALL devices with smaller displays (usually 2.6 to 2.8 inches), and without touchscreen functionality – e.g. the Samsung B-series devices (B7320, B7330), Nokia E-series devices (E71, E72), BlackBerry devices, etc.
Now consider that those guilty of guzzling battery power the most and leaving you looking for a charger after a few hours of fairly hectic use are ALL touchscreen devices with huge displays (3.5 to over 4 inches) – HTC EVO, iPhone, HTC Hero, Nokia N900, NexusOne, etc.
Note that all the above devices – the power efficient ones and the power hungry ones – all have the other factors present – always-on 3G connections and an endless list of features.
Yet, the non-touchscreen, smaller display devices run for much longer than their big display, touchscreen devices.
I remember that one of the outstanding points of the Samsung B7320 which I used recently is that it just doesn’t run out of juice. Other B7320/B7330 users have corroborated this. This is probably another reason why BlackBerry devices are popular in the corporate environment. Which busy executive wants to worry about their phone running out of power by 2 p.m. on a hectic workday?
I have to strategise how to manage power on my device on days that I am going to be out of the office for long periods, because I have to do more on my smartphone then than on the average day. The distraction is not something that I enjoy when it happens, especially when there is work to be done, places to go, clients to be attended to, and meetings to be had.
While so far, I get through a fairly busy day without my N900 dying on me before I get back home, the fact that I have to worry about how fast the battery is draining is just not pleasant. With the B7320, I wouldn’t even have had to think about it at all.
Battery Life Champions – Enterprise Devices
Profiling these smart devices with really good battery lives, a trend can be seen – they are devices targetted primarilly at the enterprise market.
Typically, we see a compact form factor, usually fairly rugged, a QWERTY keyboard, and typical smartphone functionality. They are usually not multimedia monsters. Their cameras are not necesarilly the highest specified. They don’t play a huge catalogue of video and audio types. But they are dependable. They’ll be there when you need them.
Well, if you have a hectic schedule and power management is important to you (you’d like to charge your smartphone and not think about a charger for another one or two days), do consider what I have presented here. I can assure you that you will be better off with a QWERTY or regular keyboard smartphone.
Until manufacturers start putting in higher capacity batteries in those huge display devices, or better power management is invented, or some other miracle happens, large touchscreen device owners will continue to play chess with power management on their devices.
If you’d rather not get bogged down worrying about battery life on your device but need a smartphone, now you know the kind of devices to avoid.
Yes; you will miss that huge, bright, fancy display, but you will get some measure of peace of mind with regards battery life as you go about your daily tasks.