Design makers are facing great difficulties these days. The new 4G LTE networks that Verizon and AT&T offer bring incredibly fast speeds but also a significant battery drain. Fortunately there is a surprising solution to this problem.
The basic issue is that there hasn’t been a breakthrough in battery design in many years. Lithium-ion has been the state of the art for almost as long as I can remember. There have been refinements, but no dramatic improvements.
We’re used to electronic components getting smaller over time. That’s not really happening with batteries. Until someone finds a significantly better option than Li-Ion, the only way to make a battery hold more juice is to make it bigger.
At this point, you might be asking, if we can’t make batteries smaller, how is it that the battery lives of the latest devices are going up without a corresponding increase in size? For example, the Motorola Droid Bionic comes with a 1735 mAh battery, while the Motorola Droid X2, which came out last spring, has a 1540 mAh battery. And our review of the Droid Bionic shows that the newer model has a better battery life than the earlier one. These two handsets are almost exactly the same size, so where is the extra battery life coming from?
And the Answer Is…
The solution is something I’ll confess I didn’t think of. As I said, we’re used to electronic components getting smaller. And that’s happening with all the parts that go into a smartphone… except the battery. So as the processor, internal storage, camera, etc. all shrink, that leaves room for bigger batteries. The percentage of the internal space devoted to batteries is going up, but the overall form factor of the handset remains the same, or in some cases is even getting smaller, like with the newly-announced Motorola Droid RAZR.
This is really only a stop-gap measure, though. I’m sure there are chemists out there working every day to come out with a better type of battery than lithium-ion. There’s billions of dollars to be made by the one that can significantly reduce the size requirements for batteries.
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