Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Cellphones Power Technology

Growing Power Gap Could Force Smartphone Tradeoffs 246

Posted by kdawson
from the more-power-to-him dept.
alphadogg writes "Mobile users face a fast-growing gap between their smartphones' increasing power needs and battery capacity. That gap could force users to make tradeoffs in how, and for what, they use their phones, even as vendors at all levels work even harder to reduce power demand in mobile devices, according to Chris Schreck, a research analyst with IMS Research. Schreck estimates that a 1500 mAh battery, the industry's current 'high water mark,' yields for many smartphone users a battery life of about 6 hours — highly dependent on what applications and on-device technologies, including Wi-Fi, users are running. The latest and greatest tech advances, including faster CPUs, higher data throughput, and improved displays all crank up the demand for power. The combination of user behavior and technology is boosting power demand faster than battery capacity can keep up. Schreck estimates power requirements can grow 15% a year."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Growing Power Gap Could Force Smartphone Tradeoffs

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @02:35PM (#29583725)

    The android challenge should add a green-attribute somehow. Perhaps a special award to that category. Its not sexy to make the battery last longer. It takes a lot of effort and without reward, it won't happen. That is because the app appears outside the phone framework. e.g. somehow not responsible for power loss, when it is.

    -jp
    cant login
    gpscruise@gmail.com

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hairyfeet (841228)
      The problem is battery tech simply hasn't kept up with the pace of technology in other sectors. Our last breakthrough was...what lithium ion batteries in the late 70s/early 80s? Like my engineer neighbor said to someone who asked him what "green tech" to invest in "Look for companies that are trying to come up with new battery tech, because the company that comes up with lighter and more powerful batteries will be richer than Bill Gates" and he is correct. We desperately need new battery tech to go with all
      • by iamacat (583406)

        Batteries have to store enormous energy and be able to release it at high rate. It pretty much follows that there will be cases where energy is released at too high a rate for your safety, no matter what is the underlying technology. Do you really want to be carrying an even more powerful bomb in close proximity to your private parts for most of the day?

        Personally, I would rather think of my phone as a remote desktop client for servers whose power supplies are safely away from my cajones. And for cases wher

        • >>>start programming mobile clients with the same care we used for hand-optimized assembler on original IBM PCs

          Agree 100%. But that requires intimate knowledge of how the hardware works in order to optimize the code to use the hardware sparingly. Few modern programmers have any clue, since they are "removed" from the device by several layers of OS and userspace.

        • by lysergic.acid (845423) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @10:29PM (#29588493) Homepage

          It's not the rate of energy release that is an issue, but rather energy density. There's also no reason why a high density (or high capacity) battery would be any less safe than low density batteries. I mean, most people are perfectly comfortable driving around in their cars, which has far more energy stored in its fuel tank than any fully-charged laptop battery—not to mention being far more volatile as well.

          Put it another way: would you be worried walking around with a piece of charcoal in your pocket? The energy density of a li-ion battery is 540 kilojoules per kilogram [everything2.com]. The energy density of coal is 24 megajoules per kilogram [hypertextbook.com]. Oh, and a kilogram of fat? that's 37.7 megajoules [hypertextbook.com]. So batteries have quite a ways to go.

          There's no reason why we can't come up with high energy density batteries that are safe, stable, and release their energy in a controlled manner. Perhaps it can't be done with li-ion technology, but I'm sure it can be done. We just need some new breakthroughs in battery technology. But these types of revolutionary technological changes can only be effected by new knowledge gained through basic research. Unfortunately, most government funding seems to go into applied research these days.

          Lastly, if you're still worried about carrying "too much energy" around in your pocket in the form of an electricity, just remember that E=mc^2. So a single gram of material of any form carries 89.87 terajoules of energy. So even an uncharged 1 ounce cellphone battery possesses 2.5 petajoules of energy, or about the same amount of energy as 41 Hiroshima-sized nuclear bombs.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by timeOday (582209)

        The problem is battery tech simply hasn't kept up with the pace of technology in other sectors.

        To you and the grandparent I ask, where are your expectations coming from, and how aware are you of the progress that has been made?

        Battery technology absolutely has improved [nexergy.com], and quite steadily [kk.org], for years. Don't you remember cellphones from the 80s with NiCad batteries?

        Second, which "other sectors" have grown at a rate anything like Moore's Law over that time period? Moore's Law does not hold for technolo

      • by hitmark (640295)

        seems lately that all companies have aimed their efforts at either comboing zinc with with something, or finding new ways to get lithium to handle more pr volume and weight.

      • by PitaBred (632671)
        Look into ultracapacitors [theinquirer.net]. They're getting insanely more powerful, and they charge nearly instantly. Even if they only run for 3-4 hours, the fast charge would make it much more acceptable to most people. If I use my phone for 6 hours, I have to charge it for 1-2. If that charge time dropped to under 15 minutes, I would be insanely happy and much more likely to have a power-hungry mobile.
    • by Urza9814 (883915)

      It's already a huge problem. My old Verizon LG VX9800 (aka 'The V') will last a week without charging. It's pretty old, but I would say it was pretty powerful for a phone of it's day - mobile web, full keyboard, stereo sound and the ability to download (or load from a miniSD) full songs and video and all that good stuff. It's no iPhone, but considering it's age (and network...) it's pretty good. Next up is a sidekick LX. It can maybe make it 20 hours on a full charge - _maybe_ up to around 30 if you have go

      • by Urza9814 (883915)

        Ah damnit, didn't notice until _just_ after I hit reply that I was replying to a comment not the story. Sorry.

  • by Karem Lore (649920) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @02:39PM (#29583783)

    Considering that a mobile phone is always in your pocket and being moved around, isn't there a way to tap the kinetic energy to send small recharges to the battery throughout the day. This won't be enough to never have to charge, but may delay the time between charges enough to make it worthwhile...

    Like Rolex watches or something.

    • by ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @02:43PM (#29583843)
      There's not that much power to be had in your pocket. Even self-winding watches rely on the swinging of your arms to generate power, and they're doing a hell of a lot less with it. The generation machinery itself would also take up space and add weight; you'd be better off increasing the size of the battery.
      • by Duradin (1261418)
        And kinetic electric watches tend to use capacitors instead of batteries, which take a charge more easily than a battery. You'd lose a lot of whatever the minuscule amount of power is generated trying to get it into the battery.
      • by Locke2005 (849178)
        There's not that much power to be had in your pocket. True, but the average slashdotter's wrist generates a LOT of kinetic energy! If only there was some way to harness it, and use it to provide power for downloading from the 'net...
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Rogerborg (306625)

      "mobile [...] moved around"? Once you're past puberty and move out of your mom's basement, you'll spend most of your time sitting at a desk. When you do get up to heave your bulk to the coffee machine, you'll leave your "mobile" sitting there so that when you finally trudge back, your co-workers can tell you that your novelty ring tone went off four times at full volume while you were away.

      Now, if we could harness stupidity or hatred to power mobiles, they'd run forever.

      • Simple- use a USB charger...when I'm at my desk, my phone is plugged into a USB port. For the desks in sensitive areas when I'm not allowed to do that, a powered hub with the data not plugged into anything charges all my devices just fine.

        Charge at my desk, and when I'm sleeping, and my smartphone's 5 hour battery life is never a problem.

        • by Sir_Dill (218371)
          They have already made the mini-USB plug a standard interface for phones in the EU.

          Frankly I am tired of the wallwart era, especially when USB is so ubiquitous. Its an ideal candidate for a universal charging spec.

          • Not quite ideal- as the other person who replied reminded me, I've run into a few computers where the motherboard can't handle it due to being below spec on the power provided to the USB ports- but a wallwart with a USB plug on it solves that trick, and one day I'm going to wire a low-voltage system into my house using USB ports.

    • by StikyPad (445176)

      I'm sedentary, you insensitive clod!

    • Considering that a mobile phone is always in your pocket and being moved around, isn't there a way to tap the kinetic energy to send small recharges to the battery throughout the day. This won't be enough to never have to charge, but may delay the time between charges enough to make it worthwhile...

      Like Rolex watches or something.

      I don't need more excuses to throw people's cell phones out of windows.

  • Donkey (Score:5, Funny)

    by NoYob (1630681) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @02:39PM (#29583793)

    ... Schreck, a research analyst with IMS Research.

    As a work around, I think he plans on just having Donkey carry around more batteries.

  • Could? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LBArrettAnderson (655246) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @02:40PM (#29583801)
    This already happened. Years ago. I rarely turn on the wifi on my phone, even if I'm in range and even if I'm surfing the internet, and am sure that GPS is turned off unless I'm actually using it.
    • by Deag (250823)

      There is a good bit that could be done with software to help this, settings to revert to the edge network with gps off when asleep for more than a few minutes for example. Or even a button that allows to toggle low power mode.

      Going through the settings turning this on and off is annoying.

      • There is a good bit that could be done with software to help this, settings to revert to the edge network with gps off when asleep for more than a few minutes for example. Or even a button that allows to toggle low power mode.

        Going through the settings turning this on and off is annoying.

        Interestingly, the specs for the HTC Dream show that it has a longer standby time when using a WCDMA network than GSM. WCDMA uses more power than GSM when on a call though.

  • by liquiddark (719647) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @02:43PM (#29583835)
    It'd be great to know how much of the battery life is consumed by the processors. If it's a major factor (versus, say, screen life, where LEDs and quantum well diodes should theoretically help), then perhaps the reversible computing push so prevalent in Kurzweil's books and rhetoric could be of some assistance.
    • by ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @02:50PM (#29583933)

      I know nothing about quantum well diodes, but the screens are already LED on virtually all smart phones. And their power draw would be negligible when not in use, so I doubt they have much of an influence. Pushing computing out of the phone wouldn't save much; the cost of maintaining an active connection to the network at all times would be substantially higher than the small gains made from using a lower power chip (the chips are already fairly low power). Keep in mind, there would still need to be *a* chip to do the work of maintaining the network connection and drawing to the screen; if it's just bitmap copies, then you need a lot of network communication (and possibly decompression work), if it's drawing primitives, you need more drawing capability to turn them into screen images.

      Many of the more powerful apps are already in the cloud, there's not that much left to push out.

      • Not sure what you thought I meant but...reversible computing [wikipedia.org]
      • I know nothing about quantum well diodes, but the screens are already LED on virtually all smart phones.

        Get your facts straight, almost every phone out there is still using a thin film transistor (TFT) LCD screen, including iPhone, Palm Pre, HTC G1.
        The only smart phone I know that uses an LED screen is the Samsung Galaxy (color AM-OLED [pdadb.net])
        There might be a handful more, but nowhere near virtually all.

  • It's my thinking that a smartphone is a closed system with a base initial launch spec that's never going to change, much like a game console. Game console power requirements and manufacturing costs drop over time, as the chipsets inside are consolidated and die shrinks lessen power consumption. But since a PS3 made in 2009 can't be any more powerful than a PS3 made in 2006, and the XBox 360 spec for 2009 is the same as the one that was released in 2005, the manufacturers can focus on electrical and manufact
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      The problem is the apps. Running an application means you are using the CPU, memory and/or networking functionality more often. On a smartphone that is used only intermittently for e-mail, the cost is small. If you are running a realtime GPS directions app for an hour at a time, you're using a hell of a lot more. Then add games, fully JavaScript-compatible web browsers, etc. It adds up. Even a normal cell phone runs down the battery an order of magnitude faster while talking than while it's sitting in
      • Specifically (and this seems to be true on my TMobile Wing (Windows Mobile), my sister-in-law's blackberry, my aunt's iPhone, and my wife's G1) misbehaving apps seem to be the biggest battery draw: those that fail to turn off resources when they are done with them.

        It's amazing how many times I've pulled my phone out of my pocket only to find Wifi or Edge turned on- and the battery below 50%.

        • by mobby_6kl (668092)

          Having Wi-Fi and 3G/Edge turned on is the best way to murder any phone battery. My S730 may last two-three days normally, but if I turn on Wi-Fi in maximum performance mode as well as 3G (or even just Edge in my case), I can run down the battery in maybe 30 minutes. In fact, if I put my finger on the battery or the rear cover, I can feel it heat up due to the enormous power drawn by the WiFi/3G modules.

    • by Hijacked Public (999535) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @03:13PM (#29584221)

      Smartphones are also getting caught up in the same software/hardware race that computers are in.

      Opening Google Maps is painfully slow on an Edge iPhone. On a 3GS it is much faster....but sooner or later Google Maps will add features that will bog it down. So another hardware upgrade will be in order and the cycle will repeat.

      Microsoft is probably itching to slap Aero glass into Winmo, if only someone would increase battery capacity by a few thousandfold.

      • by Seedy2 (126078)

        Nah, we just need an implant that generates electricity from all the calories floating around in our blood waiting to turn into fat.
        Then we could power all of our devices and lose weight at the same time. :)

      • by hitmark (640295)

        who needs a bomb when you can blow up your phone by running aero glass on your winmo phone?

        how long until you need to remove the battery before going past security, and buying a new one ones you land?

    • Because if the new generation of smartphones was the same except had a longer battery life, it would be more cost efficient to just buy an additional battery for the current phone.

  • Dual-battery config? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jddj (1085169) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @02:47PM (#29583905) Journal

    Wish they'd do one battery for the radio components and one for the CPU/etc. That way your CPU (MP3, gaming, PDA) requirements wouldn't be a slave to your talk time on the phone - and vice-versa.

    Ever have to get some data off your mobile but couldn't turn it on because you've been talking all day and run it down?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by oldspewey (1303305)
      Rather than 2 batteries, I'd much rather have the firmware begin powering down radio functions once the main battery reaches some preset level of discharge. Or instead of a preset level of discharge, a user selectable one.
      • by gordguide (307383)

        " ... I'd much rather have the firmware begin powering down radio functions once the main battery reaches some preset level of discharge. ..."

        That's exactly what my BlackBerry Storm does. Only reason I know that is it happened last night ... battery was low, phone powered up, can read eMail stored on the device, compose replies, etc., but won't connect to the network (the exact words: "radio disabled") until it gets a recharge, or you manually re-enable radio functions (presumably, for important or emergenc

    • You're not going to be able to run the dialer app without a CPU.

    • by Overzeetop (214511) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @03:24PM (#29584339) Journal

      Ever have to get some data off your mobile but couldn't turn it on because you've been talking all day and run it down?

      Well, no, but I have wished that I had the juice to make a phone call after having the GPS and golfcaddy software running for a miserably slow 5 hour golf round. Short of needing to check something on the phone, in the middle of nowhere, though, you scenario doesn't come up much as either (a) I pop out the uSD card and put it in a reader* or (b) I dock the phone with a pc and download the information I need. Of course, there's always my preferred method of extra capacity, which involves slipping an extra 40g battery* in my pocket if I'm going to be using the phone heavily all day and there's no charging opportunity in sight. Since my dock charges the internal and extra battery simultaneously, I'm always ready to carry the extra few hours around with me when I'm going to need it.

      Besides, you don't you think it would suck to have half the phone or PDA life? Would you really prefer to lose a call to a dead phone just so that you could check your contacts or email at the end of the day?

      *iPhones need not apply

  • by mewsenews (251487) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @02:50PM (#29583935) Homepage

    Let's get the kneejerk comments out of the way:

    - "Doesn't anyone use their phone as a god damn PHONE anymore? I'm running ($massively_antiquated_cellphone) and other than the hernia from carrying it around it stays charged for 3 months!"

    - "6 hours on a charge? My anecdote beats that anecdote!"

    - "Cell phone designers should stop being lazy and make their phones run on the tears of albino unicorns, then we wouldn't have to read about their problems with power consumption."

    - "Technology will advance to take care of this problem. In fact, when the Singularity happens, we won't even need cell phones anymore."

    • by StikyPad (445176) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @03:31PM (#29584417) Homepage

      Yeah, it's way better when those are consolidated into a single, apathetic post. Plus, I bet that will keep anyone else from posting similar sentiments in a more serious tone. Maybe you could attach that to the beginning of every article from now on, just in case one of the regular killjoys forgets to log on and we miss our usual dose of frowns.

    • by TeXMaster (593524)

      Let's get the kneejerk comments out of the way:

      - "Doesn't anyone use their phone as a god damn PHONE anymore? I'm running ($massively_antiquated_cellphone) and other than the hernia from carrying it around it stays charged for 3 months!"

      The problem is not the massively antiquated cellphone but the lack of NEW lightweight phones WITHOUT all the useless crapola I'm never going to use. I've been using a now-old Nokia 2100 (which, by the way, is not significantly heavier than the new Nokia 2630 I have since yesterday), and since it was obviously getting out of business (after the umpteenth fall and drop in the water, keys started to fail to act properly, reception had gone the way of the dodo, etc) and I had an upcoming birthday, I asked my re

      • You should have looked into stuff like net10 and tracfone. Very cheap, very simple phones.

        or you could just get a jitterbug
  • Good news everybody! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by chill (34294) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @02:53PM (#29583963) Journal

    Necessity is the mother of invention. Nothing will drive battery research like a heavy demand for better batteries.

    Until that time, carry a spare battery. I've always done this, just in case I drain the first one. This is one of the biggest reasons I refuse to buy an iPhone -- you can't remove the battery.

    • I would rather the efficiency of the device be improved first.

      • by chill (34294)

        Both would be better.

        I'm thinking battery improvements won't necessarily be confined to cell phone batteries, and would work their way into everything from car batteries down to hearing aid batteries.

      • by PitaBred (632671)
        They are already quite efficient. An extra 5-10% in efficiency isn't going to make any appreciable gains in battery life. The problem is that they have features. Right now, you can either have lots of features and little battery life, or few features and long battery life. The only solution to having lots of features and long battery life is to make a better battery.
    • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @03:06PM (#29584125) Homepage

      Until that time, carry a spare battery.

      Until that time, I carry a tiny little cable that lets me charge my cell phone (even the dreaded iPhone) from one of the literally thousands of 5V USB outlets available in civilization.

      I find when I leave civilization, I can't find many cell phone towers so I just use an alternative (sat phone with solar charger). Or I just shut up and enjoy the view.

      Spare batteries on cell phones are an overrated concept.

      This message paid by the Apple (No User Serviceable Parts) Marketing Department.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by IDtheTarget (1055608)
      No, but you can bring an external battery pack [imaxpower.com] or use a battery sleeve [phonesuit.com], which amounts to the same thing.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      This little device from Thinkgeek gets around that problem- a spare battery that charges just about anything with the right dongle:
      http://www.thinkgeek.com/gadgets/travelpower/917b/ [thinkgeek.com]

    • by StikyPad (445176)

      Pfft. Maybe YOU can't remove the battery...

      All *I* require is a spectacle repair kit, a flat surface, some bubble gum, an arc welder, and some spare case backings in case of catastrophic failure. It's really quite simple. Oh sure, some people carry around charge cords since electricity is ubiquitous in places where cell phones work, and many places they don't, but they're just rank amateurs who aren't in transit for every hour of every day.

    • by bl8n8r (649187)

      > carry a spare battery.

      Be careful not to put any paperclips or change in the same pocket as the
      battery.

    • by hitmark (640295)

      another solution that keeps popping up is a external battery that has a usb port and a bundled collection of adapters for various phones...

      some of the bigger ones even have a port that allow them to handle laptops.

      the concept is the same as a spare battery, but i can keep doing what you where doing without having to shut down to replace the battery. and unlike a spare battery, they have their own charger to as part of the bundle. One interesting philips model basically has a fold up wall socket built in, ma

  • I can usually get 12 hours off my iPhone during heavy usage. Days on light use. I don't think that the iPhone is considered a low end power consuming device. I think it is just the case they need higher quality batteries in their device, where the current one probably made the phone a little cheaper. Granted CPU usage will overtake battery growth... Batteries tend to approve linearly while Computation increases exponentially. However these gloom and doom stories we hear over and over again, never really c

    • by MrCrassic (994046)

      I can reach similarly lengthy runtimes on my iPhone as well, but it all goes to shit as soon as Wifi is enabled...

      I really hope that research in reducing power consumption on 3G and Wifi networks is hot right now. Being able to do this would be a HUGE plus.

  • no biggie, desk charger... check, car charger.. check, nightstand charger.. check. I don't spend more than 10 minutes between any one of those things... so give me all the features baby, i only need 10 minutes between plug in times. (obligatory thats what she said!)
    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      I don't spend more than 10 minutes between any one of those things. And yet, you still refer to it as a "wireless" phone?!?
      • I don't spend more than 10 minutes between any one of those things. And yet, you still refer to it as a "wireless" phone?!?

        I think the reference was to a cellular phone. Wireless phone options are typically more along the line of intercom to built in charger/answering machine unit, adjustable ringer volume, and caller ID. These wireless phones are not considered "smartphones" by most.

  • The problem why most computing devices suck today is that are to restricted and often to cumbersome to use.
    The iPhone was only successfull, because it is easy to use. It's still heavily restricted, for example you cannot do application development on it.
    Windows Mobile devices are not much less restricted than the iPhone, but are harder to use.

    At least for geeks this might change with newer Linux-based devices running on distributions like Maemo. For example my N810 can do nearly everything your unixoid work

    • The problem why most computing devices suck today is that are to restricted and often to cumbersome to use.

      Since you clearly know what to do why don't you go and fix the problem Mr. Smartypants. I'm sure you'll find it is a trivial problem to solve. I'm sure all those engineers would never think of trying to get a competitive leg up by actually designing a better phone.

      The iPhone was only successfull, because it is easy to use. It's still heavily restricted, for example you cannot do application development on it.

      Umm, exactly what do you think all those applications in the app store are? 2007 called and it wants its iPhone criticisms back.

      If you are talking about actually doing development ON an iPhone instead of FOR an iPhone, I can't for a second fath

  • I feel there already is a tradeoff. I have an iPhone 3GS, and I know that if I surf the internet or play games for 3-4 hours I'll all but kill the battery. A 2 hour bike ride with the GPS turned on and my route-tracking app running will suck nearly 50% of the battery life from it.

    If I'm going to be out of the house or away from the office all day without a chance to charge the devices, I know I need to limit the amount of needless browsing or playing I do with the phone, in order to make sure I have enough

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Orange Crush (934731)

      I feel there already is a tradeoff. I have an iPhone 3GS, and I know that if I surf the internet or play games for 3-4 hours I'll all but kill the battery. A 2 hour bike ride with the GPS turned on and my route-tracking app running will suck nearly 50% of the battery life from it.

      You can get one of these [bikehugger.com], or a try a more do-it-yourself option [geektechnique.org]

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I was shocked the other day when I noticed that running my 3gs with 'everything' on and TomTom, the car charger was keeping the battery at 58%. Not 'charging' it.

      What I'd love is a simple app (in the app store, dammit) which lets you define profiles. When I'm driving, I don't need wi-fi on, I probably don't need 3G on. When I'm at the office, I don't need location services on, I don't need 3G on, but I do need wi-fi on. And so on.

  • Nowdays the hardware is all the same. All smartphones have 3G, Wifi, GPS and Bluetooth, some have FM receivers. The difference now is all in the software. As much as I dislike the IPhone I guess it still has an edge over other models in that area.

    Anyways, less and less power consumption in different parts of the phone could be new way for the hardware makers to differentiate themselves.

    Samsung for example makes phones with Windows Mobile, Symbian, Android and their own Smartphone OS. HTC competes with them

  • backpack-size batteries? like a proton-pack ?

  • I'm sure that the companies and individuals that heavily dealt with the inception of the smartphone knew that this was an inevitability. The more demanding a service becomes, the more the service has to provide; simple as that.

    I think that fleeing from the problem --- mobile users demanding more ways to use their powerful devices --- is NOT the way to handle it. Can you really consider re-separating the mobile phone, media player and internet device for the sake of battery life progress? I know that the int

  • I carry with me regularly:

    --a cell phone, with utterly crappy battery life (You've heard about $15 phones with great battery life? This is one of the other $15 phones.)
    --a digital camera, with a big fat Li-Ion that lasts for well over a thousand shots
    --a netbook, again with a big fat battery

    This is rather absurd. I can understand these devices having custom battery form factors, but the power itself should be reroutable. They're all just Li-Ion batteries producing (close to) some multiple of 3.7V; I should

  • by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @03:20PM (#29584299) Homepage

    As always, it comes down to consumer choice. Do you want an MC-900-Foot-Jesus-Phone with a library of twelve thousand different fart noises at your fingertips which goes from fully charged to flat in six hours, or would you rather tote around a nigh-indestructible Motofone F3 [reghardware.co.uk] with a battery which lasts over a week on a single charge, but has no features beyond voice and SMS?

    I would advise you to vote with your wallet and let the market decide, but you'd have to buy a new F3 every day for over three weeks just to add up to the cost of The Other Phone so it seems that some votes count more than others.

  • Charging speed. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RightSaidFred99 (874576) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @03:22PM (#29584321)
    People always focus on charge capacity and energy usage, but charging speed is just as important. If they can make batteries that charge in a few minutes (or hell, 30 seconds) I wouldn't mind at all if the battery only lasts 6 hours under heavy use. Put some research into that.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by vlm (69642)

      If they can make batteries that charge in a few minutes (or hell, 30 seconds) I wouldn't mind at all if the battery only lasts 6 hours under heavy use. Put some research into that.

      No, they'll never do that. The problem isn't chemistry or volume but energy transfer.

      OK, the fine article was talking about 1500 milliamp-hour batteries. So, a huge simplification, but that is an energy storage of 1500 milliamps for one hour. There are 60 minutes in a hour, or, rephrased, that battery holds 90000 milliamp-minutes of energy. Standard SI prefix conversion, that's 90 amp-minutes of energy.

      Unless its a perpetual motion device (which would be a very handy thing to have around) what goes in e

      • True dat. I guess you'd need a non-charging battery, e.g. hydrogen or some other technology where the potential isn't recharged with electricity.
  • Thin is In (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @03:27PM (#29584383)

    A trend I've noticed for both smartphones and laptops is the constant drive to reduce size and make devices thinner. Smaller and thinner is trendier. Frankly, I wish they're just make an iPhone or laptop twice as thick, thus quadrupling the battery life. I'm not a weakling. I can carry a bit more weight especially if the device is functional enough to take over the function of some other devices I would otherwise carry.

  • by S3D (745318) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @03:46PM (#29584603)
    It seems it will be a while before there will be significant progress in batteries. As a stop-gap measure is it realistic to deploy network of chargers? Chargers at cafe, shops, gov offices, ATM and phone booths. Preferably inductive chargers [wikipedia.org] to evade connectors hell. Cellular network operators can brand them, to give them incentive. Payment can go into phone bill.
  • by rickb928 (945187) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @03:49PM (#29584627) Homepage Journal

    My G-1 had horrible battery life.

    Until I realized that it was more netbook than it was cell phone.

    Now I have my expectations set correctly, and I'm not so disappointed with the battery life. Oh, it could be better, maybe, and I would like more than about 9 hours typical life before it goes into the low battery profile, but I now know it is just not a cell phone.

    It's more.

    And that takes more power.

    And we don't have batteries that do that.

    Can we squeeze some methane fuel cells into the available form factor? I wish...

  • I for one welcome our newfound elite high powered smart phones and offer my services subjugating the less powerful smart phones as the growing energy gap widens between them. With the vanishing middle class of smart phones it is obvious that the high powered multifeatured phones will rule the less powerful, featureless unwashed masses of crapgadgets.

    Eventually a new breed of simple highpowered basic phones using E-ink technology will eventually overpopulate and violently overthrow the elite phones in which

  • by zmollusc (763634) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @03:59PM (#29584763)

    Way back in the time of analogue mobile phones I had a nokia whose battery pack was six AA sized Ni-Cad cells. All the phones I have had over the last 6 years have had batteries the size of a wafer-thin mint and, by staggering coincidence, short operating times.
    Making the phone twice as thick would give you approx 1000% more room for the battery.

    • You don't even have to go back that far... just a few years ago my phone could go a long weekend on a charge, now I have to keep an eye on the "bars" if I forget to plug it in every night.

      And somehow I was able to carry that Nokia "bar" phone with a fat battery pack in my pocket. It was only about 20% longer than my current clamshell phone, and no thicker or wider. Give me that 20% back, and eliminate the extra space taken up by the second screen (since it wouldn't need one), two extra layers of shell and h

  • One word: MintyBoost.

  • It depends on the phone, period. Since the first mobile phone, some phones have had longer battery life than others, and the only reason why some newer phones have less battery life is because the guys who made them decided it was OK.

    Battery life is directly proportional to the size of the battery!

    It is about form over function. If they wanted to they could make the iPhone last 15% longer by making the battery however bigger it needs to be to accomplish that.

    As for behavior, the reason why the iPhone sucks

  • My Storm with a full charge will last about 2 1/2 days. If I turn on Google chat then that goes down to about 6-8 hours. To me that suggests that Google gave absolutely no consideration to battery life. There are also a number of apps on my Storm that I can't seem to turn off. Further, there is no way to measure how much power an app is using.

    In short I think this is at least partially a software problem.
  • Multicore solution (Score:2, Interesting)

    by g00ey (1494205)
    Perhaps using multiple cores can do the trick. Say that we have the following cores:

    1. Basic-core This handles the basic operations on the phone and is run at all time
    2. Basic User interface core. When the user starts interacting with the phone this one kicks in and handles the basic operations
    3. Advanced User interface This one starts as soon as more CPU intensive tasks are being engaged such as browsing through pictures, writing SMS/MMS (using dictionary lookups) etc
    4. Multimedia core This core is ac

...when fits of creativity run strong, more than one programmer or writer has been known to abandon the desktop for the more spacious floor. - Fred Brooks, Jr.

Working...