The Looming Smartphone Power Shortage

Carl Weinschenk

As LTE footprints expand, smartphone vendors and the service providers need to address battery issues.

The unhappiness of subscribers about the short battery life of smartphones running on the advanced networks is made clear in a survey by J.D. Power and Associates. The crux of the findings is presented in this paragraph in Telecompetitor's coverage of the release, which quotes from J.D. Power's press release:

Latest results from J.D. Power's initial 2012 report show that customer satisfaction with battery performance "is one of only a few attributes that have declined significantly" as compared to Vol. 2 of its 2011 survey, dropping from an index rating of 6.9 to 6.7 on a ten-point scale. 4G smartphone performance ratings for battery performance fell to 6.1, much lower than the 6.7 score for 3G smartphone customer satisfaction with battery performance. It's hard to see these scores increasing as Bring Your Own Device trends grow and users have even less power left over for their own uses.

The main problem, according to a piece at Wired, is that 4G devices are location-based. They are constantly searching for signals and advertising the device's location to available networks. This - and performing whatever task the app is designed to once a network is found - is a big battery drain. The story looks at Geoloqi, a company that aims to drive efficiencies in geolocation functions.

A looming issue, according to a story at PCWorld, is the next-generation smartphones that employ quad-core processors. That, according to In-Stat Chief Technology Strategist Jim McGregor, could be a big problem:

Smartphones are already burning battery with 4G radios and high-definition screens, and running resource-intensive applications through quad-core processors and other accelerators could usurp power, McGregor said.

There is a silver lining. If past is prologue, there are many accessible things that can be done to stretch battery life. The bottom line is that IT departments and users don't think much about conserving battery life until the threat arises. At that point, some simple steps can lessen the challenge. Such mundane steps as reducing the backlight more quickly, toning down the default brightness setting and turning on fewer functions at startup go a long way to solving (or at least delaying) the problem.

Along those lines, Tom's Guide offers a wealth of tips. This guide provides general tips on conserving smartphone power, tips for saving power specifically tied to the screen display, tips for LTE and WiMax, tips specific to iOS, Android and Windows Phone and, finally, apps aimed at improving battery life.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Mar 22, 2012 10:57 AM Marie Haynes Marie Haynes  says:

When I got my new iphone this was a real problem - the battery was constantly draining itself.  I suspect it was related to the phone constantly searching for location based info.  Fortunately it looks like Apple has repaired this with the latest update!


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