Friday, April 6, 2012

Dismal LTE Battery Erode the Mobile Experience

The uptake of LTE devices, all of them Androids as far as the market is concerned, is fantastic news for carriers and handset makers.  It allows them to charge a premium, as much as $100.  However, it doesn’t come without a price.  Not talking about the $100 premium.  I’m talking about the willingness by all concerned to accept dismal battery lives.

Seidio Samsung Galaxy Nexus SURFACE Extended Combo (2100mAh) : Samsung Galaxy Nexus Extended Battery & Door Bundle

Think about it.  Today’s mobile devices are not anything remotely like yesterday’s smartphones.  To call today’s devices “smartphones” really shortchanges how much more today’s devices can do and how enriching the experiences are for the typical mobile users.  And as with any mobile experience, the battery is, in my opinion, 90% of what devices are about.  Without the battery keeping up with the mobile needs, what good are quad-cores, 16MP camers, 720p resolution screens, or even LTE speed wireless connection?

Unfortunately, we are too willing to accept the fact that earlier LTE adopters have to expect short battery life.  However, that is not necessarily true.  The Motorola RAZR Maxx that has managed to provide much better user experience over other LTE devices including Google’s flagship Galaxy Nexus.

What’s more, more and more devices have adopted Apple’s principle of a built-in battery. That means you’re stuck with whatever size battery the designers want us to have.  And that translates to less than fulfilling mobile experience.

Now, I get that during reviews, the reviewers like to parse the difference between light, moderate, and heavy uses.  Today, there are no light users.  I am sure there are moderate users but the vast major of us are moderate to heavy users.  At the very least, the mobile industry has to design devices for today’s moderate users while knowing that today’s heavy users are tomorrow’s moderate users.

I reckon we are still five years away from having devices that can truly withstand a full day’s use.  And it will become more and more difficult for device makers to keep up the pace of battery advances along with app innovations and the ever evolving mobile society.

I’m not saying this is easy but the compromises that users are willing to make and bloggers making excuses for the dismal battery life will only prolong the rich mobile experiences we all deserve.

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