Battery Life of Current Smartphones may be Declining

Smartphone makes have tweaked hardware and software to make it more efficient for battery to last longer. But, battery technology needs a generation jump.


The lithium-ion batteries were to represent the future. They were lighter and could hold more energy in less space, and were seen as a “green” alternative to lead-acid batteries, which are highly polluting. But as often, the flip side is much less glorious.

We live in a time when smartphones innovate with each launch. There are multiple camera devices (totaling 4, such as the Galaxy A9), the RED Hydrogen One with its holographic screen and composing screens occupy – the entire front of the device.

New features are yet to come and, unlike the speed at which they develop, the evolution of lithium-ion batteries has been very slow and may be showing signs of insufficiency.

This conclusion came from tests conducted by The Washington Post. Noting that current generations of smartphones are doing worse than their previous versions, in terms of battery life. To perform the tests, all the devices were placed with the same illumination and access was made to a number of sites repeated times.

The Pixel 3 had its battery shortened in approximately 1h30min in relation to the predecessor (Pixel 2). The flagship Apple, iPhone XS, finished with 21min less battery.

The only case that ran away from the rule was the iPhone XR, for several reasons. The screen has lower resolution, lower color quality, less brightness and is LCD (different from other models equipped with OLED). The iPhone XR has fared better than the Galaxy Note 9, which has a 4000 mAh battery.


One industry expert, CEO of Qnovo, Nadim Maluf, says that the batteries only grow by 5% per year, but the resources that equip the devices are increasingly lacking in energy.

[There’s] an open secret in the industry: the lithium-ion batteries in smartphones are hitting an inflection point where they simply can’t keep up.

“Batteries improve at a very slow pace, about 5 percent per year,” says Nadim Maluf, the CEO of a Silicon Valley firm called Qnovo that helps optimize batteries. “But phone power consumption is growing up faster than 5 percent” […]

“And the phone power situation is likely about to get worse. The new ultrafast wireless technology called 5G, coming to the U.S. neighborhoods soon will make even greater demands on our beleaguered batteries.”

However, while the test attempted to create a similar scenario for all devices, it is not so accurate. In fact, they do not represent a real situation. So, in cases like the iPhone X and XS, the difference would be minimal or imperceptible.

Behind the screen

Behind the screen on which you are reading this article, surely there is cobalt, this metal integrated with the manufacture of these lithium-ion batteries. Five to ten grams of cobalt for a smartphone, thirty grams for a computer, and between five and nine kilograms for an electric car. More than 60% of this cobalt used in batteries comes from mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in the south of the country, in the vicinity of the city of Kolwezi.

A hundred thousand men would come to work in these mines to be able to harvest a few grams of cobalt, which they will then sell to larger dealers. These diggers, as they are called, are only one link in the long process that separates the harvest of raw cobalt, anchored in the rock, to its refinement and its incorporation into a telephone battery. Several meters deep, in holes barely wider than them, the miners venture to find the metal they can convert into silver at the end of the day.

Larger screens, resolutions, accurate color palette, cameras, processors and sensors are the culprits of having less and less battery life. It is up to the user to take steps to save it or simply to search thoroughly before purchasing the new device.

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