Will manufacturers who focus on battery life win in the end?

Taylor Martin
 from Concord, NC
Published: April 12, 2011

If you even loosely follow my articles, you probably know that I like to complain. I'm decent at settling and being content with most technology despite all of the pitfalls I encounter. But there is one subject I cannot seem to iterate enough. I certainly don't mean to beat a dead horse, but the topic of battery life just isn't talked about enough.

My technological journey began with BlackBerry. Though they remain behind the curve in today's market, they are still renowned for excellent battery life. Regardless of what model you choose, you (given optimal conditions, i.e.: decent cell coverage and not 100 degrees below 0 outside) should easily be able to make it through a full day of use. The newer models appear to be slipping a bit, but making it a full day is still easily done.

Even the iPhone has somewhat respectable battery life. I used the CDMA iPhone for a few weeks and generally had no problems lasting through the day. I've heard from Aaron and several other colleagues that the GSM model tends to have slightly more stamina, but it still doesn't quite amount to that of RIM's dated devices.

Where this issue truly takes the spotlight is on the platform that swept the worldwide mobile market off of its feet. With openness, heavy application support, and being the most affordable way for manufacturers to get their hardware on the market in record time, Android's ascent to the top was in what felt like the blink of an eye. Thanks to Android's Law, said manufacturers now have the ability to cram all sorts of advanced technology into phones. Faster processors, bigger displays, surround sound speakers, 3D cameras, and every other gimmick in the book has debuted on some device at one point or another.

In cramming all of this tech into the phones, something has to give in the process. That something is battery technology. This specific technology is at a standstill and – in the mobile realm – really hasn't improved over the last decade.

But let's be honest here, the battery is the most important piece of technology in the phone. Without it...you have a lovely, expensive, and useless paperweight. It's a super fast sports car with no gas.

My point? Regardless of what cool features next gen phones may bring, without better battery technology, it's essentially going to be useless. I would rather have the ability to tweet, text, call, and browse the web all day over having a 3D display or cameras, a biometric scanner, or the ability to pay via phone (which you can't do if your phone is dead).

Take the ThunderBolt for instance. It has the fastest data experience on any mobile device to date, a big, bright display, and an awesome loud speaker. All of this is great. But the battery life took a big hit on the TBolt. I have had to tweak and mod nearly all aspects of the device, and I still have trouble making it through a full day with moderate use. I know many of you will defend the ThunderBolt to your grave, stating that you get exceptional battery life. But the truth of the matter is, the majority of users don't.

It's devices like the Nokia E6 that really make me despise my Android phones solely for the pitiful battery life. In a promotional video for the E6, it claims to have a month of standby time and 14 hours of talk time. The projected battery life of the myTouch 4G, the Android phone in which I've experience the best battery life yet, is 10 hours of talk time and 18 days of standby time.

A full day's use – out of box, without having to mod your phone seven ways 'til Sunday – should be the industry standard. While some aging platforms like BlackBerry and Symbian may be struggling to keep their head above water in this viscous market, they continue to offer astounding battery life and keep focus on what is truly important, ignoring most of the bells and whistles. Eventually, these platforms will catch the competition and just might offer that battery life we've all been longing for on a modernized mobile platform.