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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."
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Growing Power Gap Could Force Smartphone Tradeoffs

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  • 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.

    cant login

  • 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.
  • 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:how is this news? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 0rbit4l (669001) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @02:50PM (#29583941)
    Wow, the un-newsworthiness of this article completely escaped me until you provide a car analogy. It's all so clear now! Obviously, when dealing with a technology that sometimes features geometrically increasing capabilities, we should always remember to think in terms of internal-combustion transportation devices! DUH!

    Back on topic, I think it'll be interesting to see how interfaces make selective shutoff of features more intuitive inside a program, instead of having to bump out & modify device settings. To that end, it might be useful to have programming constructs for developers to indicate that such-and-such function will need network access, or what have you, as a hint to a mobile OS that could do runtime analysis & shut down pieces as necessary.
  • 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.

  • by oldspewey (1303305) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @02:58PM (#29584033)
    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 Minwee (522556) <> 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 [] 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.

  • 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 JSBiff (87824) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @03:34PM (#29584449) Journal

    Well, if we are proposing new power technologies, how about something *slightly* more practical, like small scale fuel cells? Or, if you want to go really pie-in-the-sky, how about small scale atomic batteries or radioisotope thermoelectric generators. Change your batteries every 15-20 years.

  • 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 [] to evade connectors hell. Cellular network operators can brand them, to give them incentive. Payment can go into phone bill.
  • by SuiteSisterMary (123932) <slebrun AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @04:00PM (#29584775) Journal

    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.

  • Multicore solution (Score:2, Interesting)

    by g00ey (1494205) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @05:15PM (#29585631)
    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 activated when playing audio and/or video

    Only the first of the 4 cores is active all the time and depending on user operation the others are activated/deactivated accordingly so as to consume minimal wattage. Perhaps the settings can provide the user with the options of forcing core 3 to be disabled to save power and/or forcing it to be enabled (when core 2 is enabled) so as to ensure GUI speed. If the battery runs out the phone can automatically enforce some of the cores to stay disabled until the battery is put on recharge...

    This is just an idea but maybe it works...

The first version always gets thrown away.