Like all smartphones, the Nokia Lumia 800’s battery is just ‘ok’

I’ve been using the Nokia Lumia 800 for almost 4 days now, full time. Two of those days have been weekends so I’m not quite ready to give a week’s full summary yet. However what I can tell you is to set your expectations on the Lumia 800’s battery.

This should be nothing new to you, or anyone else who’s been using smartphones for the last few years, especially Androids. However, if you’re accustomed to your Nokia N86 lasting for a good few days, or your old Nokia N95 getting you through 1.5 days on super-heavy-use, do stick those expectations into the gutter.

On a full charge, with a nigh-on-full-time usage model, I’ve had the phone quit on me completely at 11pm. This is a heck of a lot better than some other devices, but still. It’s a sign of the times.

It’s not a dig at Nokia. Indeed anyone reading this thinking carefully about buying the Lumia 800 will, I’m sure, nod quietly at this post. It’s what we all thought.

Unfortunately in today’s world, “smartphone” means “shit battery” (along with a qualifier, “If you actually use the phone”). The Lumia, like the iPhone and my Nexus S will happily sit for a full day doing nothing and retain a nigh-on full charge.

I think I’m not helping things by having a Google Mail account and an Outlook account activated. Plus I should probably stick the various location tools to the ‘off’ mode.

However this is not the answer.


The answer is for smartphone vendors to stop the thin obsession and start the battery obsession.

You, dear vendor, might think that battery is no longer a key consideration for consumers. You’re wrong. Just because the Galaxy SII is being flogged in its millions and that users therefore need to start re-charging by lunchtime, this does not mean it’s not a problem.

At some point, a vendor will deliver a thicker handset to market that lasts for 1.5 days guaranteed, with heavy usage. Or 2 days. Or more. And at that point, it will make every other smartphone look lovely-but-impotent.

Worse, it will make the owners of all other smartphones look like tossers.

Tossers, because, at the end of the night, when you want to phone a taxi, your 800 Euro super-smartphone is useless if the battery has already gone through the ‘RED’ flashing panicky almost-out-of-power phase and into the dead phase.

The one argument that kills every other ‘my phone is better than yours’ argument is battery. When you’ve a reasonably level playing field like the Lumia, an iPhone, a recent Android (i.e. all fairly decent, all fairly good, all with nice UIs etc), then it’s all about battery. And no one wins, at the moment. Even the BlackBerry Bold 9900 doesn’t quite come up to scratch in the battery stakes.

So please, one of the vendors, please try this out. Can you imagine if Samsung released the following devices:

– Samsung Galaxy SIIIS (where the ‘S’ stands for standard battery) — less than 1cm thick
– Samsung Galaxy SIV EBL (where ‘EBL’ stands for extended battery life of 3 days minimum) — less than 1.5cm thick

Which would you pick? Well, you’d want someone to actually verify that ‘EBL’ actually means something. But very quickly I think a lot of people would be plumping for the second version.

You’d need your head examined to go for the thinner-but-shitter version.

We’ve got over the ‘my god it’s THIN’ experience, haven’t we?

Thin, for any sensible chap, now means ‘really shit battery’. Agree?

(Note: Or, could somebody please invent some proper mobile battery technology?)


By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

15 replies on “Like all smartphones, the Nokia Lumia 800’s battery is just ‘ok’”

There are a bunch of things that phones can do to improve battery life. One is to realise that they are not really “always connected “. If the software checks for new mail, tweets, status updates at a regular interval the system software or you decide then the radio part has to wake up for that. If however it waits until the phone polls the network as part of the request then the radio is already awake. This can dramatically improve battery life but it needs the software to all understand that a mobile phone isn’t the same as a computer with Ethernet.

The other thing is to use much less power-hungry display technologies like e-ink, but these don’t have the shelf appeal of OLED,

Simon I particularly relate to your Ethernet point. Far too many developers seem to assume that they are working with Ethernet rather than cellular data!

It is the modern technological trend for even more powerful yet  minuscule mass. However, as you rightly note, what is the point of having all the technology if you cant use it liberaly through the day and use the prime function of making a call. Give us a phone that is 5mm thicker that will last at least 24 hours fully functioning please. 

I remember my beautiful Nokia 8800 ultraslim luxury phone came with TWO batteries when I bought it in 2005.
Skinny phones obviously carry skinnier batteries but there are things that can improve battery life, some things which spring to mind include:

* Non-removeable battery is usually because the manufacturer has made the battery as large as possible thereby eliminating amount of space available for removeable battery housing.
* The power-management can be significantly optimised in the software – Nokia did wonders with iterations of Symbian.
* Power management can be optimised at the chipset level – potential opportunity for a silicon vendor to really differentiate here.
* Display technology cab be improved- Qualcomms colour e-ink Mirasol tech has yet to take off, Apple are exploring putting a white layer behind AMOLED to simulate large amounts of white in a dsipaly and save battery life.
* Adoption of transmission technologies like bluetooth low energy & NFC which are far less battery hungry.

completely agree, battery technology really needs to get better to combat the inevitable rise in high usage. I say bring back the removeable battery, it’s a big reason I use a C7, £30 and I’ve got a spare battery that can be easily substituted. Not ideal, but it means I can always call a cab at the end of the night!

Goodness me, when WILL you people get it? Seriously.

Oh if only you were all software engineers (not “app developers” but actual engineers of software, who understood what is actually going on, and low level efficiency in a device).Ewan your statements here are astoundingly obvious. Of COURSE you’re not going to get great or even good battery life. What do you all expect? Look at the operating system running on the phone!

[Slaps forehead, shouts ‘D’uh!’]

Again. Slowly. From the top…

You guys are running horrible, bloated, inefficient OS software. Yep – Android (big time). Yep – Windows Phone (big time also). Yep – iPhone. Nope – Symbian.

Symbian, Symbian, Symbian. That most most beautifully engineered of mobile operating systems, that work of art, that pinnacle of mobile software development. Yes, seriously. The UI is shit you say? Well, sure thing (before S^3, and even with Symbian Anna the UI is not the greatest by a long shot). But repeat after me: “THE UI IS NOT THE OS”. Repeat this 100 times a day until you have learned it by heart. Hence, why Symbian Belle can come along, sit on a 680Mhz N8 and, in part because of GPU usage, can easily boast shorter UI lag times than an Android device with twice the clock speed.

In short: You run badly engineered (compared to Symbian) OS software, you’re going to torpedo the battery life. It is SO obvious it is unbelievable. Microsoft wrote Windows Phone – what on earth do you expect!? They are masters of bloat! And you think a leopard will chance it’s spots! Android – again, it’s got a whole layer of the OS that is virtual machine, what an incredible waste! What do you expect!? iPhone – again, Apple are AMATEURS. Sorry if that stings your ears but look at the ongoing debacle of iPhone design flaws – Fisher Price antenna’s, covers made of fragile bone china (or so it seems), and so on.

Why are you guys all so easily seduced by a slick UI, by what’s in front of your face? By lipstick on pigs? Why is your assessment of mobile operating systems reduced to what you see it doing and how pretty it is?

You run efficient, hardware-hitting, amazingly engineered, OS software that has had years of refinement, and you get great battery life. You run a mobile OS created by people who are amateurs in this game compared to the geniuses of Symbian and Nokia, and who think it’s all about a pretty UI, and you get crap battery life as trillions of clock cycles in the CPU and thus watts of precious energy, get siphoned off to do nothing more useful than raise the air temperature around your phone.

You know, there is actually a reason Symbian fans are up in arms at the ditching of Symbian (and to a lesser extent with MeeGo). It’s not just die-hard insanity, as much as you might want to dismiss it as such. It’s seeing the loss of not only a market leading, free, open, very-richly-featured, world class, world leading OS and ecosystem whose only real flaw was a slightly uncompetitive UI for a very few years, it the loss of an amazing piece of software engineering that amongst other things, gave unbeatable battery life for a smartphone (and in every sense of the word smart, Symbian is way more of a smartphone OS than any other OS other there, before we get into any silly and pointless and incorrect arguments about that).

Instead we’re now back in the comparative bronze age, iron age, or stone age, with our mobile OS engineering levels. A significant technological step backwards. But hey, you got your pretty UIs right? So you should be happy. As you’re finding there just might be some prices to pay for that…

Me? I’ll stick with my N8 with Belle thank you very much, knowing that I’ve got the greatest phone and mobile OS the world has ever seen.

“The answer is for smartphone vendors to stop the thin obsession and start the battery obsession.”

That sounds like the little engineer hiding inside you trying to come out. The problem is that’s inversely proportional to what the wo/man on the street wants…or at least thinks s/he.

And those that do think about cellular think about 3G only, not 2G also. Cellular coverage % is calculated on coverage for *populated areas*, *not* for actual ground.

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