I Got The Power

The problem with phones getting more powerful is that they aren’t getting more full of power.

Mobile technology has been moving pretty fast recently. New operating systems have risen up, more applications keep us connected to the web, processing power has tripled this year alone, and screen resolution has been increased dramatically. Almost every area of mobile phones has been enhanced in the past few years with one notable exception – the battery. All these improvements are being made yet the power for them still comes from the same sort of battery that was running phones eight or nine years ago. Something has got to give eventually. We need better batteries. Luckily I’m not the only one that thinks so. There are a few things on the way that will increase the battery power available to phone users even before the next generation arrives and each technology, as it approaches the problem differently, can be used together.

Make The Phone Use Less Power
Here’s a fact that you probably don’t know about your phone. With modern 3G models you’re currently connected to two networks, one for talk and another for data. If you don’t use your phone for e-mail or browsing, simply switching to GSM connectivity will enhance your battery power right now. That’s the principle behind the first battery extending technology, although it’s one you wont see for quite a while, and probably the one you’ll hear the least about. As data was a secondary consideration for networks when the GSM network architecture was built a second data network was built on top of that for web use and later the 3G networks replaced the second data network.

When Long Term Evolution (the name of the 4G technology) comes around the entire current network architecture will be rebuilt. 4G phone calls wont use a seperate voice network, favouring a voice over internet protocol (think Skype) style approach to voice calls. The first call in this style was made successfully a month or so ago in trials. What this means is that each phone will only have to connect to one network at a time, extending the average battery life by two thirds of it’s current lifespan. Long Term Evolution is designed to be capable of exactly what it’s name implies, meaning new technologies can easily be slotted into the new architecture without creating the battery draining dual network solution we live with today.

Make The Battery Hold More Power
Researchers at the University of Saint Andrews have been working on a new class of battery for electric cars. Their research has developed a battery that lasts three times longer than current lithium-ion batteries, using a strange chemical reaction where the battery draws in oxygen and allows it to react with it’s carbon core enhances the current charge. While the bulk of the research on these breathing batteries is being focussed on vehicles, a small part of the team is working on miniaturized versions of each battery for use in consumer electronics. They’re aiming to have batteries that hold ten times as much power as lithium-ion batteries before their research is complete. The best thing about this is that each StAIR (from St Andrews Air) battery cell is actually cheaper to make, safer to recycle, and last longer before needing replacement than lithium-ion batteries meaning most phone companies will eagerly adopt the technology as soon as it’s ready for public use.

Charge It Wirelessly
Now if you own the Palm Pre you probably read that heading, felt smug and thought that your phone can already do that. You’re right, sort of. Your phone can charge without a wire, but you have to fit a special back to the phone and rest it on a special charging station to do so. Sure, you don’t need a wire plugged into it, but you may as well have one if the phone has to stay in the same spot to charge. Nokia has been working in their Cambridge research centre on a way to wirelessly charge their phone batteries while users are out and about using a method which doesn’t involve anything plugged into the phone or any special charging apparatus.

The idea is that all those harmful little microwave electrical particles in our environment get drawn in by the phone and keep the battery topped up throughout the day, after a single charge at night. Rubbed a balloon to get some static? Hold your phone near it to get a tiny battery boost. Live under power lines? Alleviate those cancer worries by charging your phone for free then complaining about the reception under there. Strangely enough, this seemingly science-fiction endeavour is likely to be the first of these technologies that we see in practice, with Nokia aiming to have phones using this technology by the end of 2010 and helped along with solar panels. Current test models increase the battery life of phones by two fifths although this is likely to increase as the technology matures.

As I said towards the beginning of this article, all of these technologies will eventually be used together to dramatically increase battery life and maybe, just maybe, halt the phenomena of people carrying second batteries with them once and for all. Taking a 3 hour constant use battery as the standard and applying these technologies in their current state to it comes out at 21 hours (3×3 times storage, times 2/3 connection power needed, times 2/5 from extra charging) constant use which is enough for almost anyone. Once the technologies fully mature we’ll finally have the power.


16 thoughts on “I Got The Power

  1. My current battery has a life of a 3 days, and I am not much of a phone user :irked: This would be a nice change :up:

  2. If they can make one that lasts three days with my usage I'd happily buy whatever phone it was in. :yes: Of course it'd need to have it's own nuclear power plant to manage that…

  3. I tried keeping a chat app and a music player running on my old N93. It didn't even last for a quarter of a day.I haven't made up my mind about my new Omnia HD however.Phones that don't need charging or a swappable power source would be nice indeed. But perhaps developing nations with limited electricity would benefit the most of this.

  4. Originally posted by Furie:

    If they can make one that lasts three days with my usage I'd happily buy whatever phone it was in. Of course it'd need to have it's own nuclear power plant to manage that…

    Can't get your hands on a warp core … ? ;)Very cool technology on the horizon by the sounds of things. Particularly the true wireless charging! I wonder how the companies that make the batteries now feel about it all (possible drop in sales with people not having to buy extra batteries, etc).

  5. Network connections and media players are the biggest RAM and battery drainers out there. I managed to have music and Mini on for three quarters of a day from a fresh charge but the RAM constraints meant the music kept cutting out. I always said that for the sake of RAM and battery you should be able to choose which parts of a smartphone's firmware you want active at any point (including the ability to receive or make calls) from a handy list, turning off the features you wont be using so they aren't waiting in the background.The percentage of sales they get from extra batteries is nothing compared to the percentage of sales they get from manufacturers packaging new handsets. As the production costs go down and they wont push all of that fall on to the manufacturers it'll easily balance out in their favour.

  6. I manage between five and eight hours usage on a full battery with a good connecting. The sporadic 3G coverage made me switch the UMTS off as it interferes with Operamini. :irked:.

  7. Ive had my nokia 6500s since Sep on 3. My battary lasted 24hrs to start with, now just recently i'm having to charge it 1st thing Am & last thing Pm. There's still 2mths left on the warranty so i'm taking it in nxt week as ive heard the more recent batches of this model have better battery's. Ive tried & tested turning off the 3g (umts) but on 3 it automatically goes back to 3g while ever there is a signal. Apparantly it can be done on other networks. Ive only been a 3 customer as long as ive had the phone & despite all the bad rumours about both i wouldnt swap either. There seems to be a real ANTI 3 thing goin on that seems to be based on the poor signal/service of about 7+ yrs ago when they were new to the UK market. Sorry for goin totally off subject but knowing the comments ive had from other forums (mostly Nokia) i wanted to state my appreciation b4 the negative feedback rolls in !

  8. I'll be swapping to 3 myself soon. We swapped a year ago, had a great time for a month then moved and found ourselves in an area where they're only covered by their GPRS signal. If we'd bought our phones from 3 we wouldn't be able to use that at all, but luckily we always buy SIM free (a lesson everyone should learn) so we could use them slowly for a while. Never had a problem with them til then. After they made it so that their GPRS carrier couldn't use Opera Mini we gave them the shove. Now we've got full coverage we'll be swapping back as soon as our current credit load runs out.As for your battery problems, have you drained it yet? Every month you're supposed to let a phone battery drain completely, running the power til the phone dies then leaving the battery out for 24 hours just to be sure. Doing that, then giving it the full 16 hour recharge (ignoring the phone saying the battery is full) conditions the battery and keeps it running well. Otherwise you get a slow slide in how long it lasts.And bad rumours don't affect the writing here. I deal in fact only with things like this, although I have enough knowledge to make accurate educated guesses in most things.

  9. Yes the battery does get drained properly (a little to often for my liking) allthough i have never left the battery out as you said for 24hrs, so will try this out-but as prev stated i will be going in to the 3 shop to see about a new 1. They have been ex with cus serv-(to the point of giving me a new USB cable when my other was stolen) so far so fingers crossed.

  10. My battery lasts pretty long though I usually turn the brightness down.. With multiple applications = really fast draining especially when vibration and/or sound.. My battery last about the day in normal use and half a day with constant fiddling..

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