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Android Headliner: When Can We Stop Worrying About Battery Life?

June 26, 2015 - Written By Tom Dawson

No matter how good our smartphones get these days it seems that we’re still held back by poor battery life. Things have gotten a lot better in this regard, but it’s not good enough, and it’s starting to become something of a serious question of where we can go next. Smartphones have developed battery life over the last couple of years via a few means. LTE chips and networks are more evolved now, displays don’t drain as much juice as they used to and batteries got larger overall. However, in the last year we’ve seen octa-core CPUs, promised to save us from the battery woes of the past, fail us once again. The Snapdragon 810 can’t deliver any better battery life than any quad-core device from last year and in the case of the Galaxy S6, we’ve lost the ability to carry multiple batteries around with us.

Android 5.0 Lollipop was apparently supposed to save us from our battery problems as well, but if you spend 10 minutes or so on the web, there are multiple reports of users downgrading to KitKat to get better battery life back. Users of the Moto X 2014, myself included, have come across the dreaded battery life of the new Android 5.1.1 update which is, to put it bluntly; all over the shop. Some users report drastically improved times, and others far below that. LG G3 owners, a device that was praised for quality battery life is seriously suffering under Lollipop for some users.

The phrases “some users” and in “some cases” come up a lot when exploring battery life and Lollipop updates across devices, and it seems that at least for right now, there are only two clear and accessible ways to fix things; improve battery logs and deliver larger batteries.

While Sony’s line up of smartphones might not be to everyone’s taste, they get a lot of things right, and battery life is one of them. With cells around the 3,000 mAh capacity, larger in the Xperia Z2 and Xperia Z3 line, it’s no wonder that they get such good battery life. It probably helps as well, that the battery stats on Sony’s smartphones are clear, understandable and simple. Unlike HTC, Sony do very little to get in the way of what that settings page was supposed to do. In Sony’s case, the larger batteries do much of the heavy lifting here, but there’s also probably some serious optimization here, too.

Smaller and thinner devices are great and all, but mediocre battery life can ruin an otherwise great experience for everyone. The Galaxy S6 was launched this year with a great new design and and an Edge variant that impresses everyone, give or take, but the battery life was a step back from previous models and that battery is locked away for good. Bigger devices aren’t taking off just because they can be used for everything more effectively, but also because they carry massive batteries. The next generation of smartphones need to cram batteries in wherever they can and hopefully new processors like the Snapdragon 820 and next-generation MediaTek CPUs can finally deliver on the promise of octa-core efficiency. Maybe 2016 isn’t the year we can stop worrying, but the signs are promising as early tests from Android M on the notoriously poor lasting Nexus 5 show excellent results with Dozing and such. Let’s keep our fingers crossed, because carrying cables and batteries around with us isn’t the idea of “the future” we all had in mind.