Smartphone OS and Battery Life

It is fast becoming the age of the smartphone. Smartphones are selling like hotcakes and taking more bites out of phone sales statistics. Still, one sore issue that is observed is that of battery life.

What do we expect? 4-inch touchscreen displays, always-on data, multi-tasking, +1GHz processors and a host of other features all mean that there is a greater demand on our smartphones’ batteries.

Android OS is one of the greatest culprit in this regard. Apparently, we need to make our robots more energy-efficient. Those droids simply guzzle power like mad.

Another power-inefficient mobile OS at the moment is Windows Phone. I have used two WP7 devices, and they both suck badly with regards to battery consumption.

Another battery sucker is Maemo (evolving into MeeGo). As much as I loved the N900, I had to let it go because of the battery life.

I also owned and used a Palm Pre running WebOS, and it was disastrous, battery-wise. It certainly was the worst case of poor battery life that I had ever encountered. Whether this is a WebOS trait in general or it was an isolated case, I have no idea.

The Winners
It is no news that Symbian has remained legendary with regards energy efficiency. That old horse just can’t be beat. Devices running Symbian keep going long after the average Android, Windows Phone and Maemo toy has given up.

Sadly, Symbian is on the way out, though not until 2016. I will repeat – Symbian OS is too good to dump. It does so many things well and has improved so fast and markedly that it should be retained. It doesn’t seem to make much sense dumping it now when it’s just getting better and better.

Also read:  Sunday Discussion : Which app changed your Android experience?

PS: In adopting WP as a primary smartphone platform, do we take it that there should be a secondary? Why not? Retain Symbian as secondary, and problem solved.

Anyway, life goes on. Moving away from Symbian, there is only one other major smartphone OS that delivers exemplary battery life that I am aware of. Yes; iOS.

iOS has come a long way in terms of battery life. The first generations of iPhones had piss-poor battery life, but things have changed dramatically.

With more features now, iOS has been optimised to deliver even better battery life across both iPhones and iPad ranges.

For those that want to stay truly mobile i.e. Not tied to carrying a cable around and looking for something to plug their smartphones to by mid-day, you are better off looking in the direction of Symbian or iOS. That’s just the way it is. For now.

Hopefully, we shall see better power optimisation on other platforms in a little while. In the meantime, if I had no Symbian device that meets my needs, and I had to look elsewhere right now, I am afraid it would have to be in the direction of Steve Job’s reality distortion field. Battery life is at the top of my mobile requirements. It just doesn’t matter what a mobile device can do if it doesn’t let me do it away from a charger.

Your thoughts, guys?

Mister Mobility

I started blogging about mobile in 2004 as a fun way to share my passion for gadgets and mobile services. My other interests include digital media, speaking and teaching, photography, travelling, and dancing.

0 thoughts on “Smartphone OS and Battery Life

  • June 6, 2011 at 5:04 am
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    As a friend said, the battery life problem is everhyped. In his situation, if probably has a point.
    If is a big man. Has 24-hour access to electricity in his house, in his Touareg (car battery charger), and of course. In his office. He spends most of his life cooped up in his office! Hardly ever out of reach of power.

    If your situation is like that of this man, it is of on earth shaking importance if your smarttoy becomes asphyxiated in 6 hours!

    For us lesser mortals, we sobbaly need to ONLY buy phones with user-replaceable batteries. Ensure you have one (possibly two) CHARGED extra batteries AT ALL TIMES. Carrying extra batteries is a lot less inconveniencing than carrying around serpentine power cables!

    With that power problem behind us, we can use that extension of our brain (smartphone) the way it is meant to be used.

    Until solar-powerfo devices emerge from the woodwork, the extra-battery and power cable carrying problem is ineluctable!

    • June 6, 2011 at 5:24 am
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      For us lesser mortals, we sobbaly need to ONLY buy phones with user-replaceable batteries. Ensure you have one (possibly two) CHARGED extra batteries AT ALL TIMES. Carrying extra batteries is a lot less inconveniencing than carrying around serpentine power cables!

      With that power problem behind us, we can use that extension of our brain (smartphone) the way it is meant to be used.

      Until solar-powerfo devices emerge from the woodwork, the extra-battery and power cable carrying problem is ineluctable!

      I am glad that you at least admit that the workarounds you presented are ‘problems’ too – carrying extra batteries mean that you have to have charged them, and have to open up the phone to swap when the battery dies. If that works for some people, no problem. Some of us absolutely detest the hassle.

      Even the super-rich guy has to deal with the hassle of remembering to plug in his phone every step of the way. Good for him too. God help him if he is like my wife who forgets to plug in her phone every single day 😀

  • June 6, 2011 at 5:22 am
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    Battery Technology has not kept up with the other areas of development in the smartphone world.

    It is said that the current battery technology has reached its pinnacle. a new battery technology is required. Until then…

    Basically, if you need greater longevity in power, you make the battery physically bigger. That is more bulk – which could be a sore point.

    Manufacturers could make it possible to use batteries of differing power ratings for the same phone.

    In your car, you have that freedom (to some extent). The ‘amps’ of your car battery is left to your discretion.

    For our climes, mobile devices shipped here should have extra-long battery life because of our peculiarity. More bulk / weight, but it can not be helped!

    Otherwise, phones with certain OSes and mammoth screen sizes may not quite be suitable for a lot of people here.

  • June 6, 2011 at 5:32 am
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    ‘. Good for him too.God help him if he is like my wife who forgets to plug in her phone every single day’

    Ha! Ha! Haa!

    Now – I can TOTALLY relate to THAT.

    If I do not charge my wife’s phone, sorry, hmmm…

  • June 6, 2011 at 6:52 am
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    Hmmmn, I think I would leave the winner as iOS, I just got a nokia c7 less than a week ago and the battery doesn’t last beyond 1p.m, very annoying honestly.

  • June 6, 2011 at 7:24 am
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    The N8 has good battery life, but as a power user [always browsing, playing music, acting as a hotspot, watching videos, playing games], I’m sure my battery would die before 2 pm. Luckily, I’m mostly in the office and so I’m always charging it. But during the weekends, I have to be careful with my usage.

    I really wish Nokia had supplied a 1500mAh battery with the N8. Or at least, made the battery user-replaceable.

    • June 6, 2011 at 8:03 am
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      The smartphones with the best battery life 8-9 hours on a charge with non-stop video playback. With an active data connection, and you ‘always’ doing something on your phone, 7am to 2pm (7 hours) sounds like very good battery performance.

      No smartphone pushed that hard has done better than 9 hours, at least from the data I have collated so far. With intensive use, both my N8 and E7 make it till 9pm on an average day. If I push them much more, they don’t. My iPhone 3GS roughly scores similarly.

  • June 6, 2011 at 7:49 am
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    if battery life is all there is to smartphones then, Symbian and IOS will rule. but we know that isn’t the case. Freedom ranks higher in priority more that battery life for me and I also know how to manage my phone to get the best out of the battery.

    So when making choice of smartphone, iOS is simply not considered. I can’t afford to spend my money on a phone and have the manufacturer deciding/enforcing how I use it. Symbian is a good but …

    • June 6, 2011 at 7:55 am
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      True, battery life is not the only criteria in choosing a smartphone, same as no other single feature is.

  • June 6, 2011 at 8:07 am
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    To me Battery life is overrated, as no phone has been able to last two days of use with me. I’m an internet addict on my free days, it’s either I’m do IMing that could last 4 hours stretch of continuous use, or reading articles online from various news sites, a little gaming, playing my mp3 collections at the same time or reading my ebooks on mobipocket. No matter the battery size even if it’s the 1500mAh battery on my E71, or the lesser on the now stay in my bag N97 or 6220c. They all have one thing in common they can’t make it to the next day.

    • June 6, 2011 at 8:27 am
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      😀

      Honestly, those of you who don’t putnyour phones down at all should not be a part of this discussion on batterylife. What? How do you expect to IM for 4 hours straight and your battery not die out?

      This article sure is throwing up some revelations about people’s usage patterns (and expectations?)

    • June 6, 2011 at 12:25 pm
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      Eyebeekay, that link is bad.

  • June 6, 2011 at 11:46 am
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    ” For those that want to stay truly mobile i.e. Not tied to carrying a cable around and looking for something to plug their smartphones to by mid-day, you are better off looking in the direction of Symbian or iOS. That’s just the way it is. For now. “

    Look in direction of iOS? My iPhone dies on me before sunset when fully charged by 9am. Is this peculiar to my phone or its the jailbreak that is causing this battery drain? (That’s what afewgoodmen said)

    Have we looked in the direction of Bada OS? I love the battery life of the Samsung Wave.

  • June 6, 2011 at 2:14 pm
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    @yomi calm down, the 4 hour IM thing isn’t a regular occurrence. Like today I’ve just done only 1 hour of browsing, and 3 hours of music playback whilst the device was offline. My point is that most devices are marketed for a continuous online life style with cloud computing on the horizon. All the while these devices are ill-suited for the advertised purpose, particularly with the onslaught of multi-core devices.
    Cellphones manufacturers should invest in the next-gen batteries to the market in double quick time.

  • June 7, 2011 at 9:28 pm
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    In matters like these common sense and some discipline come in handy.
    @yomi can we expect an ipad review soon? 😀 ?

    • June 7, 2011 at 9:36 pm
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      Keweno,

      I have actually had an iPad with me for some time now. An iPad review will probably bring some smartmouth fellows saying we are reviewing an outdated device (which is a lie, of course). And knowing me, I will certainly have their comments deleted.

      😉

      Please expect my iPad review anyway. I must say that it is a lovely device, inspire of it’s limitations. Cheers.

  • June 8, 2011 at 10:38 pm
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    One of the hazards of using a Smartohone is the need to locate a power source. Or sometimes, the need to have a back-uP. I don’t usually feel the insufficient battery problem because I’m always in consulting room/office till 4pm, and there’s always a power source. During the weekend or Whenever I wouldn’t be at work, I usually ensure that the battery of my phone is above 90% and it always carries me throughout the day.

    My activities on my smartphone includes playing games (at least an hour a day), I tweet at least 2 hours in a day. And then I’m always on the internet reading one tech article or the other or a medical article. I also watch/listen two to four Hours of movies/music in a day.

    I use an iOS device as my primary smartphone. Sometimes it fails me before 6. But most time it doesn’t. My Nokia 5230 comes in to the rescue only as a back-up.

    @deoladoctor; I’m with you sometimes, and I know for sure that you do not use your Samsung wave as much as the Android and iPhone. Perhaps if the Samsung Wave was your primary device it may suffer from battery insufficiency? Try it one day and make your Wave your o ky smartphone for a day and see how much it last.

    @Yomi Nice Article; if the iPhone 3Gs is that good and the iPhone 4 has a better battery life; then the iPhone 4 should have an excellent battery life? I can’t wait for your iPad review. By the way it’s always better late than never

  • June 11, 2011 at 12:17 pm
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    Waiting too for the iPad review, I was one of those calling it a large iPod Touch but I’ve been so converted after getting one, its looking like a necessity now 🙂

  • June 11, 2011 at 9:34 pm
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    Nice Article with great revealing comments.

    We sure need a revolution in battery technology.

    Till then Apple and Symbian are doing great jobs.

    And I have been hearing some good news about Samsung Galaxy SII.

  • August 3, 2011 at 11:40 pm
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    I am a nokia e71 user from full charge i get 14 hours of nonstop internet browsing with operamini browser before i hear a battery low warning which can still give me more 1 to 2 hours more browsing time. I am so impressed with nokia thats a nokia BP-4L 1500mah battery strenght.

  • December 26, 2013 at 3:22 pm
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    I am really surprised, Nokia with windows phone8 has broken d battery barrier with Lumia 720, 1020, 1520, 625and 925. I personally use 720 and looking forward to having 1020 0r1520. Once my phone is fully charged in d morning it takes me till d next day at times. Always on data, play games for about 2. Hours browsing for about 3 hours on the average , whatsapp and Skype for about 30 minutes. My phone goes 24 hours. If I don’t do Skype and play games just browse, calls and I’m it g,oes more than 24 hours. Realized Skype Is a battery guzzler. This is how long my 720 goes and1520 does about twice of this. From d review got for 1520 you can use it averagely and charge once in 4- days

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