Batteries are rubbish, there’s no two ways about it. Battery life is the one area where the mobile industry has gone backwards over the past few years to the extent that increased battery life is now top of the list of required improvements for many users.
These days any device that runs on batteries massively fails to live up to expectations. Tablets, smartphones, laptops, even electric cars, are all compromised because battery performance has fallen way behind what is needed and, as mobile devices get increasingly more sophisticated, the problem is getting worse.
There clearly needs to be a change and this week there’s news of at least some hope of improvement in the future. Researchers at Cambridge University have developed a new type of Sulphur battery that could double the battery life of mobile devices. Unfortunately, there seems a lot of work still to be done before it becomes commercially viable.
In the meantime, we’re going to have to put up with manufacturers thinking they can simply get away with quoting unrealistic battery life figures in device specs. In the real world, my Blackberry Bold 9900 will last half a day from full charge if it is used solely for email, a couple of hours for calls, or a day if it isn’t used at all. Laughably, Blackberry claims around 6 hours talk time and more than 12 days (yes days) on standby. Similarly, my Lenovo ThinkPad gives between 1.5 and 2 hours use, maximum (Lenovo claims 10 hours). A Nexus 7 gives close to Google’s claimed 8 hours active use if you stick to email and basic web surfing but play a graphics intensive game and it drops closer to 2 hours.
The team from Cambridge claim that, once they’ve resolved the current technical limitations of the Sulphur battery, they’ll double battery life at a lower cost. Doubling current levels doesn’t sound that great but at least it’s a start.
Surely, an absolute minimum requirement should be for a mobile device to last a full day’s intensive use? At least that would save my colleagues from having to carry around multiple Blackberry batteries or using AA batteries in a travel charger to get through the day.