Would you trade better display tech for better battery life?

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from Arizona
Published: December 20, 2012

Everyone loves the battery in the Samsung Galaxy Note II, or at least everyone I’ve spoken to who owns the phone. Or has even used it for an extended period of time. It measures in at 3100mAh, which is a proverbial ton of power shoved into a phone with a 5.5-inch display. Then again, for a device with a 5.5-inch display, you’d expect to have a pretty big battery behind that backdoor. Luckily, Samsung didn’t skimp on the details, and the Galaxy Note II is winning all sorts of accolades about its huge battery.

The battery isn’t why I kept the Galaxy Note II for as long as I did, though. It actually had nothing to do with it. In my personal usage, I didn’t see any difference between the batteries on the Lumia 920 (seriously), the iPhone 5, or the Galaxy Note II. I use my phone, or phablet at the time, as a music listening device, so that’s why I thought the Galaxy Note II would be a perfect device for me. Turns out, when you listen to music on your phone as much as I do, it doesn’t really matter how big your battery is.

That’s a hard truth for me to swallow, but it doesn’t look like I have a choice. It has been suggested to me that I should pick up Motorola’s DROID RAZR MAXX HD, and with its own battery measured in at 3300mAh, that’s at least a little bit bigger than the Galaxy Note II’s battery. But that’s not going to happen. So, I’m back to the “normal” phones again. Meaning phones with “normal” battery sizes.

I left the Galaxy Note II behind because of the unimpressive battery life (for my use case), and the AMOLED display. I know that many of you out there love it, and I know why. The colors really are amazing. They pop. Blacks really are black, which is a nice bonus, too. But I’m just not a fan of it. I've asked all of you if you prefer LCD or AMOLED, and sure enough, the majority of you responded that AMOLED is your display of choice. But I just can’t do it. I like more “natural” colors, so to speak, so that’s why LCD will always be my go-to choice.

Unless something drastic changes in AMOLED technology, that is. (Other than not using PenTile displays, mind you. That's a good step in the right direction, though.)

In any event, I started looking at devices like HTC’s DROID DNA, and couldn’t help but be swayed by that beautiful 5-inch display. It’s clarity, color, and “high-definition” features really are amazing to look at in person, and I can’t wait to see more phones with that type of technology, or even better, implemented next year. As you might imagine, though, the DNA’s battery didn’t sway me, and I couldn’t see a good trade-off between the battery and the bigger, impressive display.

Which got me wondering, why are we apparently fighting between screen technology and battery life? Yes, it was HTC’s decision to put a “smaller” battery into the DROID DNA, but it’s not like HTC is the only manufacturer out there making those kinds of decisions. Small batteries, even in phone with huge displays, are nothing new. We can hope that, in 2013, it changes for the better, but I’m really wondering if it will.

That’s why I want to hear from you, Dear Reader. I want to know if you’d be willing to trade better screen technology for better battery life. Or, maybe the other way around? Or do you agree that our smartphone features are outpacing our battery life, and manufacturers need to try to find a better way to make a high-end display, and a larger battery that will truly last through the day no matter the apps we throw at it? Let me know what you think!