Will longer battery life become the next feature battleground for smartphones?
Antony Leather writing on Forbes.com believes it should be because mobile subscribers are growing frustrated with constantly recharging their phones – to the point that they would accept thicker phones just to have longer battery life.
The problems that he identifies are antiquated battery technology and increasingly heavy usage: “The trouble is, few if any manufacturers seem to have cottoned on to just how much each of us uses our smartphone.”
Another very important issue is how much battery power is being consumed when users are not actively using their phones. Even when a phone is to all outward appearances idle, there is a lot going in the background that drains battery life. Smartphones are not connected all the time; rather they repeatedly connect and disconnect during the day as they sit idle on a table top, in a pocket, or in a briefcase.
It’s intuitive and obvious that when the screen is on, it leads to higher power consumption than when it’s off. What’s less obvious is that the activity of the phone’s radio is another driver of battery drain. When the radio is on, the device consumes power at a higher rate that when it’s off. And when the radio state changes frequently – moving from off to on and back again repeatedly – that also leads to higher power consumption and faster battery drain.
Mobile subscribers typically have a few dozen apps installed, and most of those apps frequently check for new data. Frequent updates are intrinsic to the always on nature of the mobile experience. However, a large portion of this constant checking for updates is unnecessary, because no new data is available. Even so, those chatty apps keep checking. This background activity causes the device to be connected for longer than it needs to be, and it also causes more frequent changes in radio state. This in turn leads to accelerated battery drain.
Signaling optimization reduces both the time the device is connected to the mobile network and the number of connections. The immediacy of the mobile experience for the subscriber is not adversely impacted, because it’s the unnecessary background activity that is optimized away. By reducing both the time that the device is connected as well as the number of changes in the radio state, battery life is significantly improved.