What's up with mobile device battery life in 2011?


Technology has been advancing at an amazing pace. Even in the last couple years, mobile phones have become many times more powerful and useful.

However, your feature phone from ten years ago does have one advantage over mobile devices of today: it could last almost a week without a recharge. Now, my HTC EVO 4G can barely make it through a day, and most other smartphones are glad to have a few days of standby times. What gives?

Most people reason that battery life on current devices is bad because the devices have gotten much more powerful, and thus they draw more power. This is true; advances in mobile technology do drain batteries faster. However, one would think that battery technology would have kept up with other mobile technology. And this is the root of the problem: it hasn't.

The lithium-ion polymer batteries now in most of our devices were first used in electronics in 1996. 1996 was 15 years ago. And here we are in 2011, still using almost the exact same technology that was used back then. Almost any other technology from that long ago is now considered archaic. It is true that lithium-ion technology has been optimized, and the batteries now have somewhat higher capacities than they did then, but lithium-ion advances are still far behind other advances.

Companies such as Apple and Google have attempted to fix the problem of battery life with software optimizations, and as a result the iPhone 4 has some of the most impressive battery life in current smartphones. But that isn't enough. The iPhone 4 still only makes it through a day, or at most two on very light usage. We are going to have to wait until a new technology is mature before we get the kind of battery life we would have predicted in 2000.

Personally, I just need my EVO to last through the day and into the night on heavy use, but week-long battery life would be nice as well. Are you satisfied with current battery life, or are you hoping for a great new technology to emerge?

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Aaron Orquia

Aaron Orquia is an associate editor at Pocketables. He has been using Android and Linux since he bought his first computer years ago, and his interest in technology, software, and tweaking both to work just right has only grown stronger since then. His current gadgets include a OnePlus One, a Pebble smartwatch, and an Acer C720 Chromebook.

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