The smartphone has faced countless improvements over the past year, largely in terms of both hardware and software. Some of the biggest improvements have come in the form of faster, multi-core processors, higher quality and resolution displays, better cameras and faster wireless capabilities, all jam-packed in a smaller, more lightweight chassis. Through all of this, as I feel I have stated a million times, only one thing has been left to take a hit: battery life.

Along the way, component manufacturers have managed to create technologies or stitch together methods that "help save" battery life. But let's be honest, none of these work quite as well as simply having a higher capacity or more efficient power cell. There have been several breakthroughs as of late in the battery technology field. However, none of them have managed to make it to fruition just yet.

So for now, while engineers and scientific brains are in the labs working on mass producing cells that last tens to hundreds of times longer on a single charge than current batteries, the best – and only – thing OEMs can do is to continue shaving off battery usage here and there with more efficient components. A prime example of this is in displays of the OLED family. Unlike LCDs, which supply power to every pixel any time the display is lit, OLED displays only power the pixels that require power. In other words, blacks appear to be a truer black because those pixels are actually powered off, only to be kicked on when that pixel is needed for color. Thus, using primarily black wallpapers and black accents in the interface of the phone saves, albeit minuscule, power over time.

As reported by Taylor Wimberly of Android and Me, Qualcomm MEMS Technologies, Inc. has been hard at work on a new display technology that uses much less power than your run-of-the-mill display. The product has been dubbed Mirasol and is "the industry's first to use interferometric modulation (IMOD), which is a micro-electro-mechanical systems-based technology able to create color from ambient light." In human terms, it saves power and lots of it.

The first Mirasol fitted Android device, a Kyobo eReader, is now available in South Korea for roughly KRW 349,000 (or $310 USD), or a discounted price of KRW 299,000 ($265 USD) for Platinum Book Club members. It features a 5.7-inch XGA (1024 by 768 pixels) display, a 1GHz Snapdragon S2 processor and Kyobo's customized interface atop Android 2.3. The main feature of the device is its exceptional battery life, which is said to be measured in weeks.

The problem? While the display saves oodles of battery life and displays in full color, it's not quite up to snuff with what Samsung or LG have managed to spoil us with. Color reproduction and contrast in Super AMOLED displays and the LG-made IPS LCD display in the iPhone (made by LG), better known as the Retina Display, are fantastic. The contrast levels in the Super AMOLED actually gives some high-end television sets a run for their money. This Mirasol display from Qualcomm, however, is not quite capable of reproducing such colors. As you can see in the picture above, colors are very faint and washed out.

The main focus for these displays for the time being is for eReaders. But as Wimberly states, Qualcomm has already revealed that they are working on the next generation of Mirasol displays, which should support higher resolutions, better color reproduction and faster response times. That said, I have a feeling even the second, maybe even the third, generation of Mirasol displays may have trouble competing with current displays in terms of quality.

It's also worth noting that while the Kyobo eReader may be able to last weeks on a single charge, it's not subject to the constant bombardment of 3G and 4G radios. With wireless radios always on, the battery life could quickly shrink from weeks to mere days. Even still, this is better than six to 10 hours per charge with moderate use.

The benefits of such a display might be welcomed by some in other areas like smartphones and tablets. Battery life has been a sour point for smartphone users for the last couple years and it's only getting worse with time. Introducing a new display tech – though not nearly as vivid or awe-inspiring as current displays – that could turn mobile battery life from hours to days (maybe even a week), single-handed, would be a saving grace for smartphone users worldwide.

I'm a sucker for a pretty display. However, when push comes to shove, battery life will easily take the cake. Using a display like the Mirasol would definitely take some getting used to and would be awfully reminiscent of some early model BlackBerrys. But not having to charge my phone every half day, or even every day would be a dream come true. If nothing else, I would have to give Mirasol the benefit of a doubt and at least give it a go.

While I may prioritize battery life over display tech, I know there are some true display buffs out there who would have a much more difficult time giving up their 720p Super AMOLED or S-LCD displays for a Mirasol and an extra three or four days of battery life. Would you? Or would you just wait it out for a true battery technology breakthrough to surface to put an end to your battery woes?

Image via ssergeyvet0

Don't forget to VOTE! Each week, PhoneDog Fans vote for their #1 smartphone in the Official Smartphone Rankings. Vote now and contribute to the industry's most relevant weekly ranking charts

Products mentioned in this Article

eBay prices for the Amazon Kindle Fire 7 inch Black

Related posts

Comments & discussions  

57 Reactions to this post

"Would you trade current display tech for better battery life?"

Please limit your reaction to 140 characters or use comments for a longer reply :)
Thanks for your participation! :)

Hubert John Abiera Ehh, my Windows Phone's battery lasts me just fine. I could go for a higher pixel density though, but only if the phone screen stays above 3.7".
Chad Allen I have no problem with battery on my iphone 4s i got a mophie plus case charger and i last a good 12 hours with continues use
Michael Ducylowycz Hell no!!! Retina FTW!!!
Blaine Taylor Hell to the NO
William Folks I have a stock Bionic and am ok with the battery life. Yeah it could last longer but I am usually in a spot where I can charge if I need to...
Neil Sizemore Absolutely not, battery technology will eventuality catch up
Ken Post And if I want a bigger screen. I'd get a tablet
Ken Post Battery that's why I went with an iPhone. Droids suck. Unplug a droid by the time you leave the house you lose 10 percent battery hahaha
John Brown No, just get it together. You know like updates or optimizing the software to work well with the hardware.
Josh Foster Nope that's why I have an extra battery.
Jason Vargas Ni. I like my SAMOLED too much. And the Galaxy S phones have pretty good Battery life. With the Advances in the world today we shouldnt have to sacrifice anything for better battery life
Luis Félix maybe...
Kehin Faux Battery
Nathan Wright My samsung focus has a great screen and great battery so i'm content for now =)
Brandon Johnson Last year I was under the impression that amoled was supposed to use less battery life, well it doesn't. I've learned how to manage my battery though and the last 2 phones I had have good batteries/Screens (Samsung Focus and iPhone 4S) I think I'm content with the way things are.
Silver Fox I thought the latest technological advances in display technology did improve battery life. How about working on technology that will make batteries last much longer.
Kyle Wraij Isn't it obvious? We had great battery life and crap monochrome displays for years. Only in the last four years has that really changed, and look at the sales records now. Seems like an idiotic question to ask in the first place. The consumer has already chosen.
Diego Akd Aranda i will trade my mom n sister just to have both current display tech n a better battery life :) lol
Isaac Johnson To a certain extent, yes. A few years ago Super Amoled Plus, Super LED, and Retina displays didnt even exist and nobody complained. Now all of a sudden nobody can live without them. Its no use to have those kind of displays if I cant enjoy it because my phone is about to die in 5 minutes. And I think phone companies know darn well they can make batteries that last longer but refuse to because they are money hungry.
Sam Rick Why should we choose one or the other??! I wanna have my cake and eat it too.
Jack Hueppelsheuser I'd settle for better battery life. If the phone can do about as much either way then why not?
Krunal Darji Battery life FTW!
Joseph Hawley Better battery life for sure!!!!
Sam Bahhur get an iPhone 4 running 4.0 and you get both.
Andrew Alisa Improve on battery technology
Curt Popejoy No way. Battery life is crybaby stuff. Its like buying a big suv and then bitching because the gas mileage is bad. Most of us have access to a way to charge our phones the majority of the day of need be.
Konner Shea I dont care if I see pixels, I just want a capacitive screen and good battery life.
Konner Shea yeah I really would. ;/
Ryan Brown I love my Wildfire S, but the battery is more than awful.. Gone from 68% this morning to 12%.. (y)
Mark Fisher Jr. Hell yeah. I be needing the battery life to last on my phone.
Paul Alexandru I want both
Yasir Rathore i wont. i love graphics
Rufino Velazquez No way. Using a sidekick 4g right now, tmobile sent me one after multiple g2 exchanges, and man am I missing that g2 display. Even if it wasn't top of the line, it was leaps and bounds better than this. I spent 70 dollars on the extended battery, did not regret it one bit. Well, now I do obviously.
Sherman FreeBandzz Brown Im with tj and steaven we wouldnt want a bad screen we want all the upgrades
Shin Wolf if you want porn choose the display! If youre lazy choose long batterylife.. As simple as that..
Chris Cunningham I would take that display if it gave me a few days battery life. I pretty much hate feeling tethered to a power source just to make sure I have battery life that night.
Tony Abiama Screen please.
Michael Santangelo Yep, improve on the ol lithium ion, keep our gorgeous displays.
Duvall Mariano There are millions of plug outlets around the world. Better display!!
Philip Weißner They should don't make the smartphones thiner and thiner...they should pack a big battery in the phone and of course ... What wonder... It will have more power... You just can't have a thin smartphone with a big battery, a good camera and a clear sound with full bass...this all things need space in the phone...
Nathaniel Hull I would def carry xtra bats , then downgrade screen
Aaron Couts Wish these companies would think quality instead of quantity, focus on better overall quality phones instead of pushing out 20 at a time.
Rob Melone I want BOTH!
Deepak Nair i agree with alexander... display matters a lot
Alex Bodeanu I'd better walk around with my charger, than to trade the display tech.
Jesus Gomez How about both ese! If your putting high resolution screens, it would make sense to put a better battery in the device
Reptar Raven They can have both, yet they don't.. I wonder why.
Orga Price Maybe people should actually RELEASE some of this battery tech, instead of talking about how amazing it's going to be in 15 years.
Nicolas Flores I say better battery life. I mean the current display on my myTouch 4G Slide is great. Of course I wish I had a great resolution like the Galaxy Nexus but whatever. Better Battery life all the way
Steven Mirabito No way! The solution, like Tj said, is to improve battery technology, not downgrade screen technology
Zachary Daniel Meyer If they make extended batteries with every phone I'd have no problem with better HD screens..... Thin is lame
Phil Bridgetoclarity No. I get two batteries, and a car charger.
Gordon Christie Both would be best
Tony Allen No. I want a battery tech that is as advanced as everything else in our devices, not something from over a decade ago.

Most popular Videos
Most popular Videos
Most popular Videos

Most popular Reactions
Most popular Reactions
Most popular Reactions

This weeks "People's Choice Rankings" best smartphones
People's Choice Rankings

See all hot devices