What is the ideal cell phone battery capacity?

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.

what is the ideal cell phone battery capacity
What is the ideal cell phone battery capacity in 2019?

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

android 9 update

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.

battery performance dead phone

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.

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7 comments

  1. This is why objective reviewbog smartphones are invaluable.

    If I cannot predict camera performance just from the megapixel count, (or the physical number of camera), and cannot project the battery longevity just from the mAh, it then means I need to rely on a review or someone who has actually used.that device to know for sure .

  2. Wow, this is really an interesting article from you Mr MO, God bless you for this write up. I’m so pleased about this. This is exactly the real issues most people don’t know about phone batteries. What most of us always go for is the big number when it comes to buying a phone with good battery capacity, but sometimes it doesn’t work that way. Every phone users should see this article and lean from it. This is definitely one of the best articles I ever read. Thanks once again for this Mister MO, you are very right.

  3. I quite agree with you on this, sir. And I think the public needs an enlightenment about this fact because, generally, people (buyers) tends to go by what’s written on the product. And that’s what the manufacturers are banking on. They, sometimes, play smartness on our intelligence.

    There was a nice phone I used some years back: BE-ELITE. On the battery as well as the phone pack, 2800mAh was written as the real capacity of the battery. But I noticed it drains out quite fast, despite that it has 1GB RAM and 4.5″ screen display. Later, I put it on AnTuTu test and I discovered the battery cwpwcity was actually 1800mAh! I felt cheated! I was angry. But I love that phone.

    So, just like you have said, the fact that a device was said to be empowered with 5000mAh battery size doesn’t mean that’s was on it really. And the painful thing is, there’s no way of knowing the truth except and until one buys it. But, then, thanks to reviewers like you, sir, that always give the public the true picture of these devices.

    Sorry to say this. I know a few that, for reasons unknown to me, they tends to take sides with the manufacturers to give the public fake and spurious infos about mobile devices, maybe just to help the company sell their substandard products or whatever. I don’t know. Seriously, this is very bad. But you are very different. I mean this from my heart. Your reviews are always very straightforward. No compromise. No bias.

    Thank you for this, sir.

  4. I used Infinix Note 3 Pro rated at 4500 mAh just before my current phone Huawei Y9 2019 rated at 4000 mAh. My Y9 lasts longer than the Note 3 Pro ever did. It goes beyond power rating to actual management of battery capacity.

  5. This is what I keep telling people that come for mobile purchase advice from me that there is more to a device than just raw battery wey rating and any time I tell them they think I am saying bollocks. That there are still other intricacies that most be taken into consideration..

    But I think d populace haven’t figured out that’s why all this Chinese oem keep ripping people off with their debutable claims of battery capacity.. This is totally an underrated article am gonna star it for future reference.. Thanks for this article sir

  6. This is a lecture for me.. Have learnt a lot.. But for the lay man on the street. I think there is no ideal battery capacity, it depends on different situations. Power supply in users area, usage style heavy usage or fair usage etc. I believe battery topic became amplified in Nigeria because of the sorry state of our power sector.
    For me average requirement is 3500MAH..

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