Mobile phone batteries are horrible – why can’t they be better NOW?

I just spent a couple of days out of the office with some business associates who are also friends. Since we were not at a desk or even carrying around an iPad we naturally used our mobile devices as our primary means of communication. As the day wore on our mobile phone batteries wore out. It’s nearly impossible for me to believe that there could be any explanation for how a rechargeable mobile phone battery could not keep a charge for 24 hours or more even when in use.

Mobile phone (or cell phones as they were formerly called) batteries are most often rated on their ‘talk-time’ ability to hold a charge. CNET offered comparative ratings last month – and a brand named Somin came out on top at more than twenty hours talk time (good luck finding it) with a Nokia model coming in second at fifteen hours (which may actually last longer than the company). I don’t know anyone that would use their mobile phone for twenty hours (talking) without charging it but things happen.

Outside of talking what drains power on mobile devices is the mobile web – data transfers, uploads and downloads. That’s no secret to just about anyone. Those apps you have running in the background are running down your power so you can get all those Facebook, Yelp and other social media updates in real time. While all that is going on the battery is running down all day and at the most inopportune time (like when you want to actually make a 2 minute phone call) – you may not be able to because the battery is almost dead. The measurement should be data usage – not talk time.

I carry two extra batteries in my briefcase. However my briefcase is not with me at all times and I don’t always remember to stick an extra battery in my pocket just in case. The question I have is – why has there not been an advance in mobile phone batteries such that there is literally no way a battery could run down in a 24 hour period?

Marketing companies want people to do more commerce on the mobile internet. QR codes are cool but NFC (Near Field Communications) for mobile phones are a better technology and much more user friendly. Alan Mutter wrote a great blog piece on this recently – Yet if we are to do more on our phones the least of our problems should be the fact that by using them more our phones will run out of power before people can charge them.

When I was young I heard people say – ‘If they can put men on the moon why can’t they…?’ I feel that way about mobile phone batteries. I’m not being naïve here – I am sure it isn’t easy to make a more powerful mobile phone battery as there are surely dangers in having too much power that could leak or catch fire. But that gets me back to – ‘If they can put men on the moon…’

How about you – have you had your mobile phone battery crap out on you at a bad moment? How many times? Does it aggravate you too?

About markkolier

Futurist, entrepreneur, left lane driver, baseball lover
This entry was posted in Innovation, Living in the World Today, Technology and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Mobile phone batteries are horrible – why can’t they be better NOW?

  1. Pete says:

    Battery life has been the subject of intense research for decades. It is really that hard a problem. It’s not just phones, it is currently the BIGGEST impediment to widespread use of electric cars.

    FYI, one of the biggest drains on a cell phone battery is the screen, I have mine go off after 30 seconds and manually turn it off as soon as I don’t need it.My droid will tell you what has the biggest impact on battery,. and screen is usually around 60-70 percent. (I won’t use Facebook and other mobile apps like that because they can be a huge drain).

    When they make the big leap in battery technology the impact to cell phones will be a minor one. Electric cars, improvements to the electricity grid (ability to store excess power during low usage times), and lot’s of other things will make big impacts on our lives.


    • markkolier says:

      What you write is so true Pete – there are so many opportunities in the battery power area for advancement and development. I often wonder about the motivation of battery makers to make much better products since then people would not need to replace them as often – the old planned obsolescence that we all know about. Thanks – great seeing you last weekend.


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