Power-hungry smartphone features outrunning battery developments

With smartphones rapidly becoming the handset of choice, concern has been raised that battery technology is failing to keep pace with power requirements to support the increasing functionality of these devices.

According to IMS research, the resulting gap between power available to users and the electrical energy required by a growing number of handset features threatens to slow the connected and mobile lifestyle consumers are increasingly adopting.

"Handsets with dead batteries don't use very much data or talk time. That's bad news for network operators looking to drive ARPU. Similarly, consumers are unlikely to pay a premium for features that they know will only drain their battery, which places downward pressure on handset selling prices for handset OEMs," said IMS Research analyst, Chris Schreck.

Schreck claims consumers are wanting to do more with their handsets than ever before. "Mobile data and application use has skyrocketed in recent years, and the types of features currently being included in handset designs, not to mention those on the horizon, now require more power to operate. Faster processing speeds, higher data throughputs, and more vivid displays all escalate a handset's power requirements. Even with a 1500 mAh battery, which is the high water mark in the industry at the moment, our estimates show many smartphone users only have a battery life of 6 hours."

However, IMS believes that possible solutions to this ‘power gap' are being developed by the handset industry, including new display technologies, more power efficient silicon design, and new battery chemistries, each of which have varying market potential.

While accepting that any one of these developments will not completely address the need for more power, IMS further highlights the issue by claiming that power requirements for smartphone users will increase at a rate of 15 per cent rate each year, and that the power gap will increase at a significantly higher pace.

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EE Times

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