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livelaughlove21's avatar

What's with the battery life on smartphones?

Asked by livelaughlove21 (14286 points ) September 4th, 2012

I’ve been with Boost Mobile for about three years and have no major complaints. They’re getting rid of their Nextel towers, so anyone with a Nextel phone has to switch before June. Of course, I had a Nextel phone, so this weekend I went out and got a new phone.

My last phone was the Motorola i1. It was actually a pretty crappy phone in the grand scheme of things. It froze up, I had to take the battery out for it to turn off, my signal was slowly dwindling, and the internet speed was awful (it wasn’t 3G). However, the good part is that I could go a day to a day-and-a-half without charging it, even if I used it a lot (which I do).

This time around I got the Kyocera Hydro. Out of all the Boost phones, it got the best reviews (4.5 stars). And it’s waterproof, which is pretty cool. I absolutely love the phone, but the battery life isn’t so great. I took it off the charger this morning at 9AM and it got down to 70% by noon, and I barely even used it! I pushed my eco-mode up to 70% to see if that would help with battery life, so we’ll see. I don’t have any apps running, so that’s not the issue. I looked back at the reviews, and battery life is the only thing people are complaining about.

It’s a SmartPhone, and I hear the battery life actually gets before after the first week or so. Is this true?

My husband says to just buy a car charger and charge it multiple times during the day. BUT it also seems to take a long time to charge. It took about three hours to go from 3% to 80% charged last night. That was the first time I charged it and I was playing with it the whole time, so that may have something to do with it, but I don’t want to get a car charger if it won’t charge it quick enough.

For those of you with SmartPhones, any advice? Do you have to recharge in the middle of the day?

I’m just trying to figure out if it’s worth keeping it. It seems all the Android phones have battery life complaints, so I don’t want to get an inferior phone with worse reviews if the battery life is going to remain the same.

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14 Answers

Nullo's avatar

Smartphones consume massive amounts of power for what they are. There’s the backlight, and the transmitter and receiver (both of which are constantly in use keeping tabs on the network), and the onboard computer to run. Actually using it eats into the battery something fierce.
On top of that, not all batteries are created equal. Yours, or your model, might be particularly inefficient.

muppetish's avatar

Do you have wi-fi or data on at all times? Or GPS? Those are the real energy suckers on my phone. I can’t get two days out of mine if I keep all of those off—and that’s coming from someone who is constantly texting throughout the day and consulting their digital calendar. Also, my battery only takes a little over an hour to charge via the outlet (definitely longer when plugged into my computer.) So the model that you purchased may have overarching battery issues.

There should be ways to optimize the charge, though. You may have to fiddle with the settings a little more.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Did you let it charge “ALL THE WAY” the first time you charged it?

Most cellphones say to let it charge overnight or more, like 24 hours before you use it the first time. It can effect overall battery performance.

tedd's avatar

Battery technology has not kept up with the advances in smart phones. Few if any smart phones will make it an entire day while using a decent number of their features. With an extended life battery that is supposed to be 2–3x as powerful as my stock one, my EVO 4g will usually make it the full day. This is playing a few games on it (some with more needs than others), surfing the web, checking facebook, stock/weather updates, and streaming music while driving to job #2.

I’m able to maintain a lot of battery power by putting my phone in airplane mode while I’m at work, where it doesn’t get much of a signal. If your phone doesn’t have a good signal (or any signal at all) it will drain the battery faster, because it will be constantly trying to find one.

It’s the catch 22 of smart phones. But most people haven’t complained enough for the phone companies to make it a priority. Not to mention I’m sure they like the increased funds they get from selling you $40 car chargers or new cords when you lose yours.

wundayatta's avatar

I have found that at the beginning, the battery lasts the longest. Over time, it works less and less well.

Certain things use up a lot of power: navigation, gps, music player, and phone conversations of an hour. Oddly, browsing doesn’t seem to use up as much power.

If I just have a couple of long phone calls, I can make it through the day. I charge it overnight. I bought a second battery and am carrying that with me now, wherever I go. I rarely use it, but it’s there if necessary. The battery was really cheap—like four bucks or so.

So that’s my story.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@wundayatta That’s what I always thought. But on smartphone forums, the general consensus seems to be that the battery life lengthens after the first week of use. I also heard from a few people that their signal wasn’t so great for the first week or two, but improved greatly after awhile. Strange, not sure if there’s any truth to it, but quite a few people claim there is.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@wundayatta I’m having a lot of trouble finding a replacement battery for the Kyocera Hydro. There isn’t even one listed on the Kyocera website. I’ve been researching it for an hour with no luck. They have to have replacement batteries, don’t they?

wundayatta's avatar

I look on Amazon and EBay and also just google in general for these kinds of things. I just googled kyocera hydro battery and got all kinds of ads and hits. I don’t know your precise model, so I couldn’t track it down any further.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@wundayatta I believe there’s only one Kyocera Hydro. I googled it too, and looked on Amazon, BoostMobile.Com, BatteriesPlus, and the Kyocera site. Nothing. It’s brand new, so maybe they haven’t come out with replacement batteries yet. I sure hope they get on that…

LuckyGuy's avatar

You need to shut off functions you are not using, such as: GPS , bluetooth, any other communication links like IR. Turn them on when you need them.

One of the biggest hogs is the automatic gain control of transmitting power. If you are in a place with poor signal the phone will keep bumping up its power until the signal is good. Always store the phone inn a place where you have the most “bars”. Don’t store it in a drawer. Know where the tower is located and make sure your phone has a clear shot at it.
As proof, try this experiment. Put the phone in your basement or in a metal box where you have poor, or no, signal. The battery will go dead very quickly. Recharge it and put the phone outside – not in the sun. The battery will last a long time.
Carry it in a pouch on your belt instead of in your pocket where your body blocks the signal.

rooeytoo's avatar

I usually make it through the day with my iPhone 4. Navigon does use up a lot of juice but generally when I use that app, the phone is plugged into the car charger. I do have the brightness of the screen turned back and I don’t keep apps running if I am not using them.

jerv's avatar

First off, a full charge for the first charge calibrates the charging circuitry.

I generally have to charge mine after lunch, and this is not counting being in a car dock during the hour a day I am commuting. I tend to use mine quite a bit though; on the rare occasions I keep it in my pocket for most of the day, I still have 80% charge after work. But I use it to surf during both of my breaks and my entire lunch, plus a fair amount of other use throughout the day.

Expecting a smartphone to do all that it does and still have decent battery life is like expecting a Ferrari to get 932 MPG. Power takes power. If you want the sort of battery life a dumbphone has, kiss your apps goodbye. It is a computer, and a fairly powerful one at that. If you cannot handle the battery drain, then no Angry Birds for you!

livelaughlove21's avatar

@jerv I don’t even play games, and have no apps running in the background. No GPS, no bluetooth—I’ll surf the web or send some texts and in 5 hours I need to charge the phone again. If I wanted to play Angry Birds, I’d be screwed unless it was plugged into the charger.

Oh well, I like the phone too much to give it up for another crappy one, even if I don’t use apps as much as most people do.

jerv's avatar

Surfing the web is how my Droid X goes from 74% to 38% in 30 minutes. If you are near a cell tower, the phone doesn’t need to transmit a strong signal, but where I work is a bit away so it practically has to scream; it turns up the power on the transmitter, which causes notable battery drain.

Of course, the display is still the biggest drain on the battery.

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