All About the Juice

Technology moves so fast. So much has happened to the smartphone industry in the last decade. But you know what hasn't really changed all that much?

The battery.

With phones getting smarter and more and more people finding that they can do so much with one converged device, battery life becomes more of a concern than ever before. Why has battery technology not improved at a pace even somewhat comparable to the rate as the devices it powers? Good question. If the answer was easy, we would probably have seen its advancements in today's most popular juice guzzling gadgets. So if battery technology can't be improved upon, hardware manufacturers must improve their technology and find workarounds that work well with the battery limitations that they are left with. I find it interesting that different companies do this in different ways.

Take the iPhone for example. When it comes to hardware, a really efficient use of space is a must as the device continues to be not only one of the smallest smartphones, but one of the smartest. Apple has taken a multi-pronged approach as they have made some game changing decisions that while unconventional, makes total sense. Let's break down areas of the hardware that make the iPhone a true leader in battery management:

(Since Apple has introduced these methods for battery conservation, other companies have taken notice and adapted some of these techniques as well.)

Non-removable battery: By going with a non-removable battery, Apple has more space to work with as it does not require the housing for a battery door. Apple has also found a way to create batteries that mold to fit the space allowance given after all the components have been put in place so that there is not the smallest little corner of wasted space on the inside of the device.

Sensors: Apple also uses sensors like one to determine how bright the display needs be given the light source around it. There is also a sensor that turns off the display when the handset is up to your ear when on a phone call.

As for the software?

Well there is the always "controversial" means of multi-tasking that essentially just freezes the state of an application while giving special permissions for audio and even data transfers for specified time periods after exiting the app. Then you can look to the series of toggles in the settings app which is common in all smartphones these days. (Although I wish these toggles were just a little bit more accessible.)

I'm sure there are other ways that battery life is conserved on the iPhone if I wanted to really get nerdy with it.

But before I wrap up this post, I want to take a look at some other interesting takes on extending battery life. How about the recently released DROID RAZR MAXX with a new extended battery built in that adds some needed girth to the "thinnest smartphone" available. I know all about the power of an extended battery as I use the Mophie Juice Pack Plus case with my iPhone. While the case adds a tremendous amount of bulk, it does so with enough battery to get just about anyone through a day without having to worry about plugging in.

But the biggest trend I see recently is simply making the device bigger. If there is one thing that is popular right now in the smartphone industry, it's big screens. With a bigger screen, you get a bigger phone. But that also means you get a bigger battery. Take the Samsung Galaxy Note for example. With it's 5" display, it carries one big son of a bitchin' battery with it. And the larger the device, the larger the battery. Proof of this is the 10 hour battery life on the iPad. I won't argue with whether the Note can seriously be called a phone, but it is hard to argue that the larger device trend we are seeing today is partially due to the needs of a bigger battery to power these handsets.

So what comes next in battery technology? We will just have to wait and see. But I feel comfortable in saying that I'm sure the iPhone will be a leader in getting us there.