How Microsoft hopes to give smartphones a solid week of battery life
What’s the one thing you would improve about your smartphone if you could? Give it more storage? A higher-res display? Valid answers, but we already have a lot of options in those areas, and if you shop around you can usually find at least some model that suits your needs. But if you said “battery life,” well, that’s a different story. There are a handful of devices out there with really giant batteries, like the old Droid Maxx models, select phablets, or the odd device with a tablet-sized battery, but all too often these arrive with one or more trade-offs. And you could always get an aftermarket battery and new back, but that’s not the most aesthetically pleasing solution. Can’t we do a little better? Microsoft sure thinks so, and yesterday the company talked a little about its ambitions to give smartphones the ability to go a week between charges.
Microsoft ain’t no fool, and the company’s aware that there’s not going to be any one magic bullet that suddenly gives phones week-long battery lives. Instead, it’s been looking at a combination of hardware and software solutions that slowly add up to making progress towards that goal.
For instance, batteries in phones today are optimized for power output at a specific level – push them too hard, or even too lightly, and the battery won’t be operating at peak efficiency. To combat that, Microsoft has come up with a system that uses a pair of batteries, one tuned for high current output, and one more suited to providing standby power. You can think of it like the battery-based extension of the split between high-power and low-power CPU cores in modern SoCs. Microsoft’s early stabs at such designs have offered 20 to 50 percent higher life than traditional cells.
On the software side, the company is looking into ways to let an OS automatically identify battery-wasting apps – specifically those running in the background – and slow them down so as to conserve power.