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Why is your smartphone's battery life so poor?

And is it going to get better any time soon?

Image: Dominic Lipinski/PA Archive

NO MATTER WHAT you talk about when discussing smartphones, the issue of battery life will inevitably come up regardless.

It can’t be helped really. No matter how much we get used to it, everyone knows the feeling of their phone being in the red and having to make it last until you reach home.

While a number of novel solutions have been designed to help improve this, it’s beginning to get better though as current smartphone models begin to see small improvements to battery life, but not enough for regular users to notice.

So what’s the reason behind this? The obvious answer is because smartphone hardware is improving at a rate that batteries cannot keep up with.

At the heart of this is the CPU (central processing unit), which is the reason why your smartphone can do so much. They require a number of transistors (think of them as switches) to handle the tasks we require it to perform on a daily basis.

While these transistors require less power on their own, there are usually a large number of them inside the one device, and the more there are, the more power that’s required to run the system.

Batteries, on the other hand, haven’t been able to keep up with this and improvements made to them have been minimal or offset by having to power better hardware.

The main type of battery used is lithium-ion, which has been around commercially since the 90s. Since there has been no real change in this technology, it means that the only way to improve the battery quality is to increase its size.

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The amount of lithium-ions inside the battery directly affects how long your phone can last on a single charge. That means if you wanted to double the lifespan of your phone for example, you would have to double the size and weight of the battery, which isn’t practical for a number of reasons.

The reason lithium-ion batteries are so popular is because they can store the most amount of energy, can be reused a large number of times and lose only a tiny amount of charge when not in use.

That’s the reason why most manufacturers have looked at ways to charge the battery faster, or improving energy management instead of developing different batteries. Since there is no real alternative to the lithium-ion battery out there, the better alternative is to look at how to improve efficiency so they can last longer without any physical change.

For now, you will have to continue learning to live in a world where you have to charge your phone every day.

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About the author:

Quinton O'Reilly

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