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Battery life: 15 minutes

battery.jpgChoosing a phone is usually based on many factors: look, style, type of phone, recommendations from friends, and hopefully features. Many people forget features and go purely for look, but that’s for another time. One thing that the vast majority of consumers forget, is battery life. At most, we see a 4h talk time / 260h stand-by time listed on the box and don’t think twice about it. However, it’s the first thing that comes to haunt us when the phone dies on us while in the middle of a crucial operation.

One myth about batteries is that all phones are pretty much the same, with relatively poor battery life. This is not the case. Most phones will, with typical usage, last a couple of days, but there are extremes. Some will literally not last a single day, and will require charges every couple hours, unless left totally unused. Others will be usable for weeks, where you can actually spend a full 2 weeks without charging it.

There are 2 factors that determine battery life. First is the power of the battery, which is based on the size and the electric charge measured in milliampere-hour (mAh). If the phone is very small or thin, the battery will also be smaller. This means the battery will most likely not last long. If it’s a bigger device, and the manufacturer can put in a bigger battery, then chances are it will be able to power the device for longer. The electric charge of the battery can also vary, usually between 860mAh and 1500mAh for most phones. There is a very big difference between one extremity and the next. Also sometimes the manufacturer will offer a “standard” and an “extended” battery of the same size, and if you look at the specs, what changes is the electric charge.

So now that we know what the battery is capable of, the second factor to look at is the power consumption of the phone. Again, it varies greatly from one feature to the next. The operating system on the phone will take power, and having a smartphone with multiple applications running will of course drain the battery faster. Being connected to a GSM or CDMA cellular network takes very little power, but 3G requires slightly more. Using wi-fi, if your device handles it, will take a lot of power. Using built-in GPS is even worse. The screen is another thing that takes power, and as the screens get better, bigger and with higher resolutions, they require more power. Using a screen saver in this case is actually a bad idea because animating it takes power. The best thing is if the phone can shut down the screen after a few minutes of inactivity.

There are things that can be done to save battery life. If you only have access to a GSM or CDMA network and your phone supports 3G, going in the setting and turning 3G off is a good idea, because switching from 2G to 3G takes a lot of power. Switching wi-fi scanning off is also very good, because scanning using the wi-fi antenna every 15mins will drain the battery in no time. The same is true for GPS. Also any extra screen saver, animation or background application running will take more power.

Battery power is one thing everyone wishes would improve on mobile devices. For me it’s an important part of why I select a device, and on my Nokia E61i (with 3G off but using wi-fi) I can get a full week of battery life using it moderately, or a full 8h of browsing / messaging, because it has a large 1500mAh battery. Many older black and white phones also gave similar performances even with lower batteries simply because of the low demands of the phone. On the other hand, reading user comments from say the Nokia 6300 or Samsung X820, their latest thin phones, some people are reporting less than a single day of battery life when using it moderately, and only 4h of usage time. Some will say that battery life is not a huge issue, simply not using any of the phone features will solve the problem. I think that’s a fallacy since there’s no use paying for a high end phone with lots of features if the battery doesn’t support them.

May 10th, 2007 Posted by Patrick Lambert | Articles, Hardware | | No Comments

 

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Ever since early sci-fi shows like Star Trek showed futuristic hand held devices used for everything from scanning their environment, providing instant information, long distance communication, showing pictures, videos and much more, I knew this is how the future would be. Today I believe the age of true mobility has arrived.

The original idea for this site was to be a news portal about high end mobile phones. Unfortunately a lack of time and resources prevents me from keeping it up to date properly, and there’s already a large amount of sites covering the news. Instead, here you’ll find original content about the mobile world.

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