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Of mobile devices batteries

By Jean-Claude Elias - Nov 22,2018 - Last updated at Nov 22,2018

I recently realised why I love my smartphone more than my laptop computer. It is because the battery of the first lasts much longer than the second’s. Typically, the phone’s battery lasts a full day whereas the laptop’s works for a mere three hours. I must admit that my phone is much newer than my old laptop, which perhaps is a partial explanation. The most recent laptop model feature batteries that can last up to eight hours and even an exceptional 12 hours in some instances.

Battery autonomy in mobile devices is a critical technical aspect of the technology. For some users it is as important as the screen resolution or the quality of the camera in the device, if not more, sometimes. With extensive usage outdoors and while on the road, the demand for long duration mobile power is increasing all the time.

Manufacturers find it hard to indicate the exact battery autonomy (or duration) of the devices they are making and selling, for it greatly varies depending on what you may be doing with the device. If, for example, you are watching videos while at the same time several other applications are also running in the background, and you have also set the screen brightness to its maximum, then your battery duration may be cut in half of what its best performance would be. The numbers usually indicated by the maker are but a rough average.

To satisfy their need for longer battery autonomy, “power users” buy these popular external battery banks that let you recharge your device when its main internal battery runs out. Anker, for example, makes excellent external battery banks that are very handy and help you run your device for much longer than its internal battery. 

However, these external battery banks have proven to be more efficient and more useful with small devices like smartphones, than with their bigger counterparts, laptop computers or tablets. Indeed, and again as average figures only, a smartphone uses about 1kWh (kilowatt hour) over a one-year period, whereas a laptop would use 70kWh. The difference of 70 to 1 is huge and must be taken into consideration. Which is why external battery banks are more often used to run small devices like smartphones than laptops.

To provide more battery autonomy manufacturers are working in parallel on two strategic frontlines. On the first they try to improve the batteries’ chemistry and design, and on the second they try to make the device less power-hungry and more power-efficient. Judging by what has been achieved over the last five to six years, the industry is doing it right.

Almost all new smartphones, tablets and laptop computers, all those made as of this year, feature batteries that last two to three times longer than similar devices made only five or six years ago. This is the way the industry keeps moving on and it is a significant point.

Which means that if battery autonomy, is a critical point for you, it is worth buying the newest device on the market, if only for this reason, and even if your “older” device is still in perfect working condition.

We are here back to the principle that virtually forces you to keep following technology and buying new devices all the time. Whether it is to have the fastest one, the best looking, the one that is compatible with the most recent operating system, or simply the one with the longest lasting batteries, buying the newest equipment is the rule. This is what our consumer society is about.

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