For the better part of the last five years, battery life has been an issue. I’ve never managed to get the alleged four hours of screen-on time some forum users claim, and I’ve rarely been able last a full day with just about any non-BlackBerry smartphone. It happens, but it’s rare.
“It’s just the way or how much you use your phones.”
That’s what everyone always tells me, but that’s not the problem, I assure you. Just because I’m a “tech blogger” doesn’t mean I use my phones endlessly. It’s quite the opposite, actually. I have countless devices, all of which get a fairly even spread of use, and I actually spend most of my time writing and making videos about phones, rather than actually using them.
My iPhone, for instance, sits on standby for the vast majority of every day, yet when I finally make it home at night, my battery is usually around 30 percent. At the end of the day, my Android phones usually have less than two hours of screen-on time – typically an hour and a half or less. They’re begging for more juice long before I ever make it home.
The One M8 has given me particularly poor battery life from the day I picked it up from the T-Mobile store, despite using the Power Saver mode all the time.
This morning, I unplugged the M8 around 9:30 AM. By the time I left, approximately one hour later and only having played one song via Rdio and looked up the weather in Eye In The Sky, my battery had already dropped to 93 percent. I was connected to Wi-Fi and had the Power Saver mode enabled the entire time.
— Taylor Martin (@caspertek) May 19, 2014
Just yesterday, I shared a screenshot of my battery drain from Sunday. It had been off the charger for two and a half hours with no more than 20 minutes of screen-on time, yet my battery was at 81 percent. Nick Gray of HTC Source also shared his battery life; his M8 sat at 77% after a much more respectable and tolerable seven hours.
All of my phones drain abnormally fast. Always.
This happens every day, with practically any phone I carry. And trust me, I’ve done a painful number of hours of research. I rooted the One M8 specifically so I could check and monitor kernel wakelocks and access extended info in applications like BetterBatteryStats. No cigar.
The most logical explanation is the quality of service in Charlotte. T-Mobile service is actually pretty strong in most areas, and my phones don’t constantly switch back and forth between LTE and HSPA+, but it’s the only thing I can’t definitively rule out. (Oh, and please don’t suggest I switch off mobile data or some other core function of a smartphone when I’m not using it. My sort of use and mobile needs don’t allow for those sort of things.)
My battery life still sucks. Period. And frankly, I don’t care why.
Despite popular belief, there is a solution, and it isn’t simply packing more milliampere-hours into our phones.
When I spent a few weeks using the Oppo Find 7a, battery life was never something I worried about … ever. Granted, I could never establish a mobile data connection, so I could get a true feel for battery life anyway. Still, the Find 7a came with a comparatively small battery for such a large device: 2,800mAh. And our Editor-in-Chief Anton D. Nagy tried the Find 7a himself, stating battery life was just okay, lasting him a full day on light usage or only most of the day on heavy usage.
Neither he or I cared. The Find 7a actively uses something every single smartphone on this planet should come equipped with: Rapid Charge.
Take note, this is different from Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 2.0, which many Snapdragon-powered smartphones come with. The Find 7a ships with a special power block, the VOOC Rapid Charger, which delivers a whopping 4.5A to the Find 7a. The battery inside the Find 7a is also special, providing five layers of thermal protective coating to prevent the device from overheating. I charged the Find 7a in a window on a particularly warm day and jumping from 34 percent charge to roughly 95 percent, the phone remained cold to the touch.
Oppo claims 30 minutes will give you up to 75 percent charge. From completely dead, you can fully charge the phone in under an hour.
I purposefully left the Find 7a unplugged overnight. I recall waking up to 11 percent battery one morning, plugging it in, taking a shower, ironing a shirt, and getting ready. By the time I left the apartment, maybe 45 minutes later, the phone was fully charged.
I’ve been saying insanely fast charging was the answer to smartphone battery woes since the very first graphene supercapacitors emerged, and while this isn’t exactly as fast as the 30-second smartphone charger we saw last month, it’s a huge leap in the right direction. The ability to get a decent amount of juice in a fraction of the time of other phones is an irreplaceable feature, and it’s the one thing I miss from the Find 7a. I never worried about my battery status because I knew I could just plug it in for 10 or 15 minutes and have enough battery to last until the next time I needed to charge. (By the average charge rate Oppo gives, it charges approximately 2.5 percent per minute, so a 15-minute charge should theoretically supply you with nearly a 38% percent charge. Keep in mind, however, it isn’t exact math, but it’s a whole heck of a lot faster than your run-of-the-mill charger.)
With the One M8, I have to plan ahead and make sure I have enough time to get a decent charge before I leave the apartment or office. I have to plan my day around my phone’s charge, and that makes for a pretty crappy experience. Oppo says Rapid Charge is “specially designed for the most comfortable experience,” and while it’s no revolution, it does provide a pretty stellar experience.
I just can’t wait for the day I no longer have to worry about my battery life, when all phones charge as quickly as the Find 7a … or even faster.
What say you, folks? Is Rapid Charge the (temporary) solution to our problems? Or do we need 4,000mAh batteries and beyond? Or both? Sound off below!