Smartphone Battery Life May Be on the Decline Because Lithium Ion Batteries Can't Keep Up With New Technology

Overall smartphone battery life may be declining due to the increasing demands new technologies place on lithium ion batteries, according to smartphone testing done by The Washington Post.

In a series of battery life tests where multiple smartphone models from the past few years were set at the same brightness and forced to reload the same sites, newer smartphones were not able to last as long as older devices.

smartphonebatterylifetest
When it comes to the iPhone, for example, the iPhone XS died an average of 21 minutes earlier than the previous-generation iPhone X. Battery life impact was most noticeable with the Google Pixel 3, which lasted an hour and a half less than the Pixel 2.

According to The Washington Post, the iPhone XR, which uses an LCD instead of an OLED display, was a notable exception, performing well on the battery life tests. The iPhone XR boasts the longest battery life of any iPhone with 25 hours of talk time, 15 hours of internet use, 16 hours of video playback, and 65 hours of audio playback.

It lasted the longest in the battery test, besting the Pixel 3XL, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, and the iPhone XS Max.

Apple's iPhone XR, the new phone I recommend to most people, has a different approach. It scales back on the screen tech -- lower resolution, less bright and lower-quality color -- in ways that benefit battery life tremendously: The XR lasted 3 hours longer than the top iPhone XS, even though the its screen is actually a smidge larger. (Bonus: It also costs $250 less.)

Nadim Maluf, CEO of battery optimization firm Qnovo, told The Washington Post that batteries improve at about "5 percent per year" but smartphone power consumption is growing faster than that.

The Washington Post consulted with other tech sites like Tom's Guide and CNET, and came to the conclusion that high-resolution OLED displays and cellular connectivity are major factors that impact battery life.

Turning down display brightness and using WiFi when possible, two well-known techniques for preserving battery life, are among the site's recommendations for eking more juice out of a smartphone.

The Washington Post's battery life test focused on the display, but other battery life tests, such as one conducted by Consumer Reports using a machine that opens up apps, had different results, with the iPhone XS beating the iPhone X due to improvements Apple has made with the processor.

Variations in battery life due to different tests and different real-life usage situations can make it difficult to tell whether overall battery life is increasing or decreasing over time, says the site.

Battery company Onavo's CEO believes that consumers should "start getting ready for compromise," settling for smartphones with increasingly bigger batteries that result in larger, heavier devices or lesser technologies like the LCD display in the iPhone XR.

Related Forum: iPhone

Top Rated Comments

zorinlynx Avatar
71 months ago
If companies weren't obsessed with making everything as thin as possible, this wouldn't be an issue.
Score: 48 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Victor Mortimer Avatar
71 months ago
There really is a very easy fix, the article even covered it.

Just make the phone thicker. There, problem solved.

There's no benefit to having a phone as thin as current iPhones anyway.
Score: 40 Votes (Like | Disagree)
B4U Avatar
71 months ago
Or just put a bigger, I mean BIGGER battery!
Since they don't give a damn about those of us who like smaller phones anyway!:mad:
Score: 32 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TallManNY Avatar
71 months ago
This is incredibly dumb:

Battery company Onavo's CEO believes that consumers should "start getting ready for compromise," settling for smartphones with increasingly bigger batteries that result in larger, heavier devices or lesser technologies like the LCD display in the iPhone XR.


First, the LCD screen in the XR is better than any LCD screen shipped by Apple in prior iPhones.

Second, the battery life issue is solved for iPhones for regular users. If you use your phone for about 1 to 2 hours per day of screen time, you won't possibly run it out during the course of the day. If you are using more than that, well, then it is because you really get a ton of use out of your phone. That isn't a compromise, that is someone who bought a phone that is just turning out great for them.

It is like complaining that you love to drive your sports car but hate that it uses more gas the more you drive it.
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Scottsoapbox Avatar
71 months ago
Maybe stop offsetting every efficiency gain with a smaller battery. Problem solved.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
drumcat Avatar
71 months ago
Wait, I thought OLED was supposed to save power versus LCD?
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iOS 18 Siri Integrated Feature

iOS 18 Will Add These New Features to Your iPhone

Friday April 12, 2024 11:11 am PDT by
iOS 18 is expected to be the "biggest" update in the iPhone's history. Below, we recap rumored features and changes for the iPhone. iOS 18 is rumored to include new generative AI features for Siri and many apps, and Apple plans to add RCS support to the Messages app for an improved texting experience between iPhones and Android devices. The update is also expected to introduce a more...
iGBA Feature

Game Boy Emulator for iPhone Now Available in App Store Following Rule Change [Removed]

Sunday April 14, 2024 8:06 am PDT by
A week after Apple updated its App Review Guidelines to permit retro game console emulators, a Game Boy emulator for the iPhone called iGBA has appeared in the App Store worldwide. The emulator is already one of the top free apps on the App Store charts. It was not entirely clear if Apple would allow emulators to work with all and any games, but iGBA is able to load any Game Boy ROMs that...
top stories 13apr2024

Top Stories: M4 Mac Roadmap Leaked, New iPads in Second Week of May, and More

Saturday April 13, 2024 6:00 am PDT by
Apple's hardware roadmap was in the news this week, with things hopefully firming up for a launch of updated iPad Pro and iPad Air models next month while we look ahead to the other iPad models and a full lineup of M4-based Macs arriving starting later this year. We also heard some fresh rumors about iOS 18, due to be unveiled at WWDC in a couple of months, while we took a look at how things ...
new best buy blue

Best Buy Opens Up Sitewide Sale With Record Low Prices on M3 MacBook Air, iPad, and Much More

Saturday April 13, 2024 7:41 am PDT by
Best Buy this weekend has a big sale on Apple MacBooks and iPads, including new all-time low prices on the M3 MacBook Air, alongside the best prices we've ever seen on MacBook Pro, iPad, and more. Some of these deals require a My Best Buy Plus or My Best Buy Total membership, which start at $49.99/year. In addition to exclusive access to select discounts, you'll get free 2-day shipping, an...
iGBA Feature

Apple Removes Game Boy Emulator iGBA From App Store Due to Spam and Copyright Violations

Sunday April 14, 2024 9:22 pm PDT by
Apple today said it removed Game Boy emulator iGBA from the App Store for violating the company's App Review Guidelines related to spam (section 4.3) and copyright (section 5.2), but it did not provide any specific details. iGBA was a copycat version of developer Riley Testut's open-source GBA4iOS app. The emulator rose to the top of the App Store charts following its release this weekend,...
iOS 18 Siri Integrated Feature

Apple's First AI Features in iOS 18 Reportedly Won't Use Cloud Servers

Sunday April 14, 2024 9:52 am PDT by
Apple's first set of new AI features planned for iOS 18 will not rely on cloud servers at all, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. "As the world awaits Apple's big AI unveiling on June 10, it looks like the initial wave of features will work entirely on device," said Gurman, in the Q&A section of his Power On newsletter today. "That means there's no cloud processing component to the...