Monday, February 18, 2008

Running to stand still

Battery life in mobile 'smart' phones has not kept up with the functional technology advancements such as embedding more radios, GPS chips and larger screens within the device.

As a real life example using my phone at the weekend on a 2 hour long car journey using GPS and GMaps (Nokia maps currently charges a small fee for directions - which is fine but I thought I'd try the free alternative), downloading a 2 minute video from YouTube into the device, then playing it and listening to a couple of music tracks - took the battery from full to 2 bars remaining within this short period of time.

Fair enough, as it was pretty intensive and not a typical usecase, but arriving at my destination and locking the car, I overhead two teenagers nearby in an exchange.
"No you can't borrow my phone - I've only got 1 bar left, I'm almost outta juice - I need it". I wonder how that teenager had been using his mobile and when he had last charged it, (note: separate insight of how teenagers share their mobile phones).

I think there's a consumer perception that a mobile phone should last days with a single charge (including me) - this is a problem for smartphones that come under any kind of heavy use, especially when using streaming video, mp3 download, gaming, broadcast mobile TV and other device and network resource intensive features.

So a couple of announcements caught my eye recently:
Kinetic-based mobile phone movement:

... and movement based charging (this time from a knee brace).

PS.Currently I'm skeptical on the Nokia N96 and its' 950mAh battery announced at MWC last week ... until I can play with it in real life scenarios. The N95 battery issue was a big issue until a firmware update and the N958gb version (just about acceptable for me even with WiFi scanning and bluetooth off). The iPhone despite its media-centric stance/optimisation ( also suffers a little with quick draining battery under heavy usage in similar circumstances - I wonder how it will cope with a 3G radio as well.