Battery life really is one of the most important aspects in a smartphone for meAnna Scantlin - Contributing Editor
Something that's really great about technological advancements is that it's always working to get better. You get faster processors, clearer displays, larger amounts of storage, and... well, really, just about everything improves marginally as time passes. But something that hasn't necessarily always followed that protocol was little thing that's called a power source. In the case of phones, the power source comes in the form of a battery. In earlier cell phones, battery life could often last for days, and sometimes even weeks depending on how much you used your phone. But as flip phones became feature phones, and feature phones turned to smartphones, we find ourselves lucky if we can even last an entire day before our phone completely runs out of juice.
This year is a pretty good year for phones, as I've mentioned in recent articles. I mean, we've got some good stuff. Apple features an iPhone with a home button that doubles as a fingerprint sensor, Moto X makes it so you don't even have to do so much as touch your phone in order to find out the weather, and most smartphone cameras are beginning to catch up and even surpass the most basic of digital cameras when it comes to how many megapixels they feature on the back of the device. Even the HTC One, which although only features a 4-megapixel camera, uses an alternative method to achieve clear images which they call "UltraPixels". When compared to other cameras that feature 8 or 13-megapixels, the phone is easily comparable when it comes to picture quality with the UltraPixel camera. However, the device did not come completely without flaw, as many devices are now suffering what is called the "purple haze" in the rear-facing camera, an issue that I find myself dealing with at the current moment.
Now, I bet you're probably thinking, "Okay, so... what does your petty camera issues have to do with battery life in smartphones?" Don't worry, it all ties in to the story.
I didn't initially experience the purple haze on my HTC One's camera. I did notice it one day, very softly on the edges. As days passed, the haze was starting to get unbearably bad. The One was supposed to be great for it's fantastic low light photos, which I initially praised it for. However, lately it's like a constant bad Instagram filter is over my low light photos. Like, you can almost see a picture behind all of the filters kind of Instagram photo. Here's a photo of my desk that I just took a few minutes ago:
The haze is applied to daytime photos as well. It's just not something I necessarily found appealing. I use my smartphone camera quite a bit, so I actually haven't been using my One for the past couple of weeks. Instead, I've been using the Sprint Galaxy Nexus. Initially, I was kind of bummed. There is a noticeable difference in quality when it comes to display, but hey, at least the camera worked, and that's what I switched for. Unfortuately, it doesn't really matter whether the camera works that well or not on the Galaxy Nexus, because the battery life is atrocious compared to what I was getting on the One. At first I thought I could handle it, but as the weeks were passing and I found myself once again married to every outlet in the house with a charger, I came to a very important self-conclusion:
I do really enjoy the camera feature on my phone, but even more than the camera I covet my phone for the fact that I'm able to connect to people through text, phone call or instant messaging services. It's my lifeline if I'm in trouble, and it's not exactly convenient to have a wireless device that only lasts 5 or so hours out of a 12 to 14 hour day. If I wanted to have a phone that was attached to the wall, I'd suck it up and get one of these bad boys.
But that's not what I want a cell phone for. Don't get me wrong, I still consider the camera a very important part of my smartphone experience, and I would love my HTC One so much more if I could actually use the camera without looking like a One-Eyed, One-Horned Flying Purple People Eater. But if it comes down to having good battery life or a good camera, I realized that I would much rather have a good battery life that gets me through the day and then some rather than constantly worrying whether an outlet is nearby or if I brought a spare charger or not. It was one of the main reasons I decided to trade in my iPhone 4S for the HTC One, and something that I had clearly not thought about until after experiencing that same annoyance with the Sprint Galaxy Nexus.
My phone might be large, and sometimes can be uncomfortable to hold, but when it comes to battery life you can't deny that larger phones have the advantage with their ability to host larger batteries as well. Since we don't yet have the technology to put an absurd amount of battery life in small, compact batteries, the only other answer is to make the phones, and therefore the batteries, larger. If there is one thing I can praise phablets for, it's their ability to make smartphones at least last throughout an entire day without dying. At least they have that going for them, because I'll tell you what, I just don't have the patience to deal with bad battery life anymore.