Do you remember when your mobile’s battery lasted more than a couple of days? Great big screens and skinny bodies soon put an end to that. Poor battery life is the bane of modern technology – will it ever get better?
I’m trying to hold myself back from moaning about modern tech, but bring up glossy screens or bad battery life and my mouth will give the Duracell bunny a run for its money.
Both of these issues provided inspiration for our campaign to bring viewfinders back to digital cameras.
You’ll find a chorus of commenters bemoaning poor battery life on our viewfinder Conversation: Doug Berry wants a viewfinder as LCD screens ‘gobble up battery power’, and Pedro Stephano agrees, ‘if you turn off the display you get significantly longer battery life’.
So, what has happened to battery life in modern gadgets? It’s not just digital cameras that are plagued by the problem – you can add smartphones, laptops or any other piece of portable tech to the list.
Smartphones come with poor battery life
It seems rare to get more than two days out of a smartphone before you need to recharge it. And you might be lucky to get three hours out of your 17 inch laptop.
When I finally said farewell to my Nokia brick mobile phone, there was one thing I knew I would miss most of all: ‘your robust lithium-ion cell would last 12.5 days, enough to prompt a huge cackle when compared to the smartphones of today.’
Convo commenter Wavechange attended my Nokia 3510i’s funeral and left this fine warning to modern mobiles: ‘I don’t want to have anything to do with smartphones until they last at least a week between charges and the battery can be exchanged (Apple please take note).’
Ah yes, Apple. By introducing a huge touchscreen, this company changed the game for mobile phones. The rest of the market was very aware of the possibility, but didn’t take the jump for fear that consumers wouldn’t want to put up with such poor battery life.
In the end, Apple got it right and led the march of the smartphones. And I’d be an idiot to criticise this, but it doesn’t mean I can’t be peeved by their battery life. Sadly, for every advancement in phone technology, their stamina hasn’t really improved. Bigger faces, thinner bodies; batteries can barely keep up.
What’s the future of batteries?
Of course, there are exceptions. Without a screen, the iPod Shuffle lasts much longer than you’d expect from its diminutive size. And then there are e-readers, like the Kindle, which can stretch out for as long as a month from just one charge.
Is there a silver lining for the rest of our portable tech? Well, scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology have been busy working on a tiny chip that can be charged by small movements, such as walking or even a human heartbeat. The chips work by using zinc oxide nanowires, which generate electricity when flexed.
Although it’ll be some time before these nanowires make it to market, we could soon see a day when we won’t ever need to plug our smartphones in to charge. For me, that day can’t come too soon.
Are you fed up with short battery life?
Yes - gadgets should last longer (89%, 901 Votes)
No - I'm content with what I get out of them (7%, 76 Votes)
I don't really care (4%, 37 Votes)
Total Voters: 1,014