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Batteries: Can we stop talking about mAh and start talking “Feels like”


I can’t seem to read a press releases these days without being told about a handset’s amazing ‘1,650 mAh’ battery life. Or 1,800 mAh. Or whatever.

I really don’t care.

Let’s take the specs of one phone I was just looking at. It’s got a 1,500 mAh battery. That, the vendor reckons will deliver:

– 480 minutes of talk time
– 325 hours of standby time
– 1 hour of full transmission use time
– 3 hours of semi full use time
– Feels like: “Charge at lunchtime”

Now then, I should point out that the last three bits are mine. I added them. They’re completely made up.

Would it be good if manufacturers started doing this? It would certainly help consumers. We need some sort of battery standard definitions so we can all measure likely performance properly.

Witness, for example, the way the car industry does it. Here are the range specs for a Range Rover:

Performance (Manufacturer’s Estimates): 4.4L TDV8 Diesel Engine
Maximum speed mph: 130
Acceleration 0-60mph seconds: 7.5
Fuel Economy: 4.4L TDV8 Diesel Engine
Urban mpg: 24.6
Extra urban mpg: 34.5
Combined mpg: 30.1

Right and now a Ford Ka:

Maximum speed mph: 99
Acceleration 0-62mph seconds: 13.1
Fuel Economy: 1.2 Duratec Petrol
Urban mpg: 44.8
Extra urban mpg: 64.2
Combined mpg: 55.4

And there we go.

Easy, right?

The Range Rover does a combined 30.1 miles per gallon. The Ford Ka does nearly double at 55.4.

Now I know where I am.

Now I can make a decision based on other hygiene factors safe in the knowledge that the Ford Ka is way, way WAY more fuel efficient.

I think consumers should be able to do the same with smartphones.

We need an independent body that can establish some standardised tests for criteria like:
– occasional use
– light use
– heavy use
– always on use

On this scale, here’s how I’d mark the Nexus S battery experience:

– occasional use: 2 days
– light use: 1 full day
– heavy use: 4 hours
– always on use: 2 hours

And the iPhone 4:

– occasional use: 3 days
– light use: 2 days
– heavy use: 5 hours
– always on use: 3 hours

And a Nokia 1100:

– occasional use: 5 days
– light use: 4 days
– heavy use: 2 days
– always on use: 1 full day

Of course, we’d need to define what these terms mean specifically — these are just based on my own experiences.

What do you reckon?

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