I initially thought of writing an article about the ideal cell phone battery capacity after the release of TECNO Phantom 9 and saw the amount of flak it got for having a 3500mAh battery. In my head, I went, “Whoah! What is so bad about a 3500mAh battery on a 6.4-inch AMOLED display phone?”
Note that it isn’t just the size of the battery or display that matters. Other factors affecting battery life include display density, processor, and software optimization, to mention the top ones. All of these determine battery drain – how fast the battery empties.
I have been using Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus for a year and have got quite good battery life on it. The S9 Plus has a 6.2-inch AMOLED display and a 3500mAh battery. It has a 529 PPI density, which is much higher than the Phantom 9’s. We can argue that Samsung’s software is more optimized than TECNO’s and also that the flagship processor in the Galaxy S9 Plus is more power efficient than the Helio P35 in the Phantom 9, but that would be stretching it. The Helio P35, built on a 12nm process, is actually designed to be power efficient.
And don’t forget that the Galaxy S9 Plus has many more battery-draining features than the Phantom 9.
But this article is not about the Phantom 9’s battery. I keep seeing a similar sentiment being expressed about other phones with a battery of less than 4000mAh capacity. For some reason, people seem to think that anything that doesn’t measure up to that delivers poor battery life, and that is far from the truth.
First, I agree that a 4000mAh battery is beefy – quite generous and gives you a sense of having nothing to worry about once you charge the phone in the morning or overnight. You know, that feeling that you can go about your day without a care.
In reality, it isn’t as straightforward as that. All the other factors that I listed above come into play – how large is the display? What kind of display is it – TFT, IPS LCD, OLED, or AMOLED? What is the pixel density of the display? How power efficient is the processor? And how optimized is the software to minimize power drain?
I am currently reviewing the Huawei P30, which has a 6.1-inch OLED display of 422 pixel density and a 3650mAh battery. Guess what – it has very good battery life. I often go a full day without depleting the battery.
So, when I see people worry about a 3000mAh battery on a phone with a 5.7-inch LCD screen with 295 pixel density, stock Android OS, and a Helio A22 chipset, I am sure they have nothing to worry about. Some of those phones with a 4000mAh battery will run out of power faster. Seriously.
As a matter of fact, a 5-inch display with a 2900mAh battery will perform admirably, all other things being equal. Hopefully, you are beginning to have an idea of how fixing a universal best phone battery size is a waste of time.
Android 9 Pie has power optimization features built in
The first thing I will say is that Android 9 has power optimization features built in from the scratch – and they work extremely well. If the phone manufacturer has not tampered with it (via a custom UI, for example), you will find that you have nothing to worry about most of the time.
So if you have an Android 9 smartphone, you have a fairly intelligent device that manages battery drain better than previous versions of Android.
So, what is the ideal cell phone battery capacity?
There isn’t one universal ideal cell phone battery capacity. As said earlier, it varies from phone to phone, depending on a number of factors. Some phones with a 1500mAh battery outlast some with a 3000mAh battery. Some with a 3500mAh battery outlast some with a 4500mAh battery.
Sometimes, the battery capacity thing is a marketing tool – pretty much like the megapixel count. An 8 megapixel camera is not necessarily better than a 5 megapixel camera. A 4000mAh battery with great power drain is useless.
Battery size isn’t everything
What is the point of this article? Simple: Battery size isn’t everything when it comes to getting good battery life. Let me phrase it differently: the ideal cell phone battery capacity is not dependent on the size of the battery in a smartphone. The biggest batteries do not necessary result in the best battery life.
I am not saying that you shouldn’t go for the highest possible battery capacity that you can get for your money. Far from it. I am saying that some of you would like to enjoy certain features on your phone, but you are letting the fear of a sub-4000mAh battery keep you away.
Like I said earlier, I am reviewing Huawei’s P30, and it is one heck of a camera phone. As someone who is a sucker for great smartphone photography, I am also glad to know that its 3650mAh battery is more than adequate for taking me through a day of work or play – or both.
And that is with two active SIMs, an always-on 4G connection, active Bluetooth, active NFC, and me constantly doing one thing or the other on it.
Don’t let a phantom ideal cell phone battery capacity, or the lack of a 4000mAh battery, keep you away from that phone with the fancy features that you want. Have a detailed look at the key factors affecting battery drain first, and determine whether or not you have anything to worry about.
Founder of MobilityArena. Yomi’s journey in mobile started in 2001. Besides obsessing over mobile phones, he also started creating WAP sites (early mobile-friendly websites created with WML). He began writing about phones in 2004 and has been at it since then. He has owned over 200 devices, from Symbian, Palm, PocketPC/Windows Mobile, BlackBerry/BB10, webOS, Windows Phone, Firefox, Ubuntu Touch, to Android, iOS, and KaiOS operating systems.