(CNET) - The smartphone market revolves around one question: how do you fit all-day access to all of a consumer’s favorite applications and services comfortably into one hand? (The tablet market? Two hands.) The rest is commentary.
No smartphone manufacturer has managed to answer the question fully, because they all face a fundamental dilemma. The electronics that enable faster performance, higher-speed data, better video and gaming, a more vivid and detailed screen, are moving at the speed of Moore’s Law. The lithium ion (Li-ion) pouch cell batteries that power them can’t keep up. Little wonder that battery life is the biggest complaint of smartphone users!
The feature vs. run-time battle this imposes on smartphone designers is why the new iPadcame in thicker and heavier than its predecessor. The battery needed to power the Retina Display, 4G LTE, and general and graphic processing improvements is 70 percent bigger and heavier. Even so, the new iPad’s battery life (run-time) is slightly less than that of the iPad 2. The implications of that for the iPhone 5 are being hotly discussed.
Li-ion battery constraints go a long way toward explaining why smartphone vendors spend millions on incremental design advantages in a market that’s moving with blinding speed. If you’re trying to figure out what your iPhone 5 — or your next Android device or Windows Phone — is going to look like, here are six things you need to know about smartphone batteries.