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One of the things I look at when inspecting the specification list of a device is the battery size. I check to see how it compares to the devices already available on the market, to devices that have been officially confirmed to be coming down the pipe, and especially to the device that I already own. I take a look at the "estimates." You know what I mean, the small snippet of information that's supposed to tell us how long we should expect to use our phone if we're on 3G, Wi-Fi, or whatever else.

They are rough estimates. They are estimates made by setting a phone in a testing lab and letting the tests commence. They are just estimates, and yet they can be a crucial part of the deciding factor for a potential buyer.

Devices like the Motorola DROID RAZR HD and DROID RAZR MAXX HD stand out. Samsung shoved a huge battery inside their behemoth device the Galaxy Note II, and the results have been pretty stellar for most owners - as far as I can see, anyway. These devices stand out amidst a sea of handsets that don't quite fit the bill more often than not. Phones that get shoved down a peg or two based on their battery performance, because they don't last all that long.

The iPhone 5, for example. If you were to go look at Apple's website, and find the specifications for the latest iPhone, you'd find that the device is said to have a battery capable of offering up eight hours of talk time on a 3G connection. The standby time is said to be 225 hours. If you jump on the Internet, you'll see an estimated browsing time of eight hours on a 3G connection, or eight hours on an LTE connection. If you want to surf the 'net on a Wi-Fi connection, you could see your battery last a full 10 hours, though. Video playback is said to be 10 hours as well, while listening to audio on your phone should see around 40 hours of life.

Those are impressive numbers. For me, it's always been that audio playback number that's been most captivating to me. 40 hours of playback? I listen to a lot of music, so that's awesome. Sign me up, even.

The thing is, I very rarely only listen to music on my phone. In fact, I'm not sure that I've ever turned on Airplane Mode on my iPhone 5 and just jammed out to music. More often than not I'm listening to music while I'm doing other things, like browsing the Internet, checking my social networking feeds, or playing some kind of mobile game. My smartphone is never, ever, just a tool for one specific task. It's serving multiple needs at any point in time in the day, so while it's great that my phone gets 40 hours of estimated battery life while playing music, I'm going to beat that battery into submission through a myriad of other methods all at the same time.

If you travel to Verizon's website and check out the DROID RAZR HD, you'll see that they've got a very limited list of battery estimates: a battery measured at 2530 mAh, capable of shelling out an estimated 24 hours of "usage time," with a standby time estimated at 11.9 days. Limited, and vague, if you ask me.

But there is no denying the Motorola DROID RAZR HD has a powerful battery, and that it does indeed offer up a longevity in smartphones rarely seen. I once wrote about batteries being outpaced by our smartphone features, and I think that's every bit as true today as it was then. In 2013, we absolutely need to see some improvements to battery life, and that doesn't necessarily mean just shoving huge batteries into huge phones.

Estimates are great, and they can paint a pretty picture, which is really the whole point. But you won't get a clear image of your phone's battery life until you really start using it. And that's after a few days of you owning it, using it, getting your apps installed, and finding your usage patterns. Only then will you be able to tell whether or not your new smartphone should give you cause for concern on a day-to-day basis.

The iPhone 5 I carry around hasn't given me any problems with the battery life. Last week I checked on two separate days, and noted that my battery usage was actually quite high, both in usage and standby time. The first time saw the iPhone with just over four hours of usage, and well over 19 hours of standby time. The second occasion saw a little over six hours of usage, with over 21 hours of standby time.

Now, that's a lot of battery usage in a day, and I can't say that the iPhone 5 has disappointed me in that regard at all. I will admit that I know quite a few people who will tell me that their iPhone 5's batter life is "terrible," and that they wish it had a bigger battery. I know where these folks are coming from, even if I don't suffer from the same situation.

I know for a fact that if, later today I charged my phone to 100 percent, I could "kill it" in less than three hours. All I would have to do is start using several different applications, especially video streaming apps, to make that happen. If I really wanted to prove that point, I could just load up some games, and my battery would forfeit without much of a fight.

It all comes down to how you use your phone, your display's settings, your connection to the Internet, and so many different scenarios that it's hard to keep up. Those estimates are great, but only to a point. They can paint a pretty picture at first, but it can only take a few days to realize your usage on a daily basis can eat your battery's life faster than expected.

So I want to know which phone, or phones, you've bought because of the battery estimates. Or, I want to know the phones you've passed on because the battery life has been reportedly bad. In either situation, if you did pick up the phone, did you find that your own usage patterns made the battery life better, or worse, than you had heard from other sources? Do you hope that the year 2013 sees some major improvements in our battery tech?

Let me know what you think.


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