Next stage in mobile device battery tech: rapid charging

Next stage in mobile device battery tech: rapid charging

Summary: Mobile enthusiasts may argue about what is the best in class device, but when it comes to battery technology all agree that it isn't progressing fast enough. A couple of new products are touting faster charging to push it to the next level.

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TOPICS: Mobility, Hardware, Wi-Fi
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Mobile device enthusiasts may argue about what is the best in class device, but when it comes to battery technology all agree that it isn't progressing fast enough. While devices can run longer now on a battery charge than in the past, that's due to hardware power optimization, not improvements in battery technology. That may be about to change as two new products are using faster battery charging to extend mobile usage of devices.

The BlackBerry PlayBook is getting a less than outstanding reception since hitting the market recently, ranging from lukewarm to downright hostile reactions. Few folks sharing these reactions point out one area that is unique to the PlayBook, and that is the special charging port that works with two rapid charging accessories. While the conventional power brick that ships with the PlayBook plugs into the microUSB port on the bottom of the device, these rapid chargers plug into the unusual port to the right of the microUSB port.

According to RIM, these chargers work "up to 2 times faster" than the conventional power brick included with the PlayBook for recharging the battery. This is designed to allow the PlayBook, with already decent battery life, to take advantage of short periods of opportunity for charging that come along. That would allow travelers waiting for flights to double the amount of charging possible by using these special chargers working with the special port on the PlayBook.

Lenovo, the folks behind the ThinkPad notebook line, have been extending the useful battery life of its laptops through innovative hardware design. A new notebook, unconfirmed by Lenovo, has recently leaked to the web that promises rapid battery charging over two times faster than normal. The thin ThinkPad X1 is obviously taking on the MacBook Air given its thin and light form, and is reported to have special battery technology designed to charge "up to 2.5 times faster than previous ThinkPad batteries, charging 80% in 30 minutes".

ThinkPad notebooks are already pushing the limits for battery life, as reported in my recent review of the ThinkPad X220. This hardware optimization coupled with this new rapid charging technology for the batteries will usher in a new era in long battery life for mobile devices.

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Topics: Mobility, Hardware, Wi-Fi

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6 comments
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  • RE: Next stage in mobile device battery tech: rapid charging

    How about one that loses its charge even slower. Now that would be worth reading about.
    jkelley76@...
  • Yeah, OK, but it's still just incremental progress

    The same problem persists: Other components progress by orders of magnitude (CPU, memory, storage are hundreds to thousands of times superior to what was available a few years ago), and batteries can now charge a little faster. Power technology is still significantly lagging everything else, and it's a huge problem and getting bigger all the time.
    doodlius
    • That's because of the laws of physics that govern

      electrochemistry. You simply aren't ever going to see the same kind of increases in battery performance.
      fr_gough
  • RE: Next stage in mobile device battery tech: rapid charging

    I can just see the fine print in the manual:
    "When using the quick charge port, do not touch the device or have it sitting on your person"

    8-|
    bc3tech
  • The real problem: small batteries.

    You know, I actually think that todays lithium batteries are pretty good. My phone will charge up in an hour or so (from a wall wart - USB charging is much slower.) The battery is quite small for the amount of runtime it gives. And it will last for well over a year of daily run downs, probably longer.
    .
    It would be trivially easy to double the battery life of most electronic doodads: put in a bigger battery. Go ahead: take out the battery from your phone or camera or what have you. I defy you to tell me you don't think that two batteries could fit into the case of that device. This is certainly the case with my Droid X, my Pentax SLR, my Canon video camera, and my Fuji pocket camera. They all have pretty compact batteries. Admittedly, there are a few devices that are so incredibly thin or tiny that they've got about all the battery they could fit; but in any case I would have to ask? Would it really kill that device to enlarge the case just enough for more battery? I don't think so. In most cases we are talking about maybe making the device about 1mm thicker. That's very nearly indistinguishable.
    .
    In most cases, manufacturers give you the least battery they think you will stomach. For smart phones they just figure most people are okay with charging every night, and buying an extra car charger or two to use during heavy work days.
    ArtInvent
  • RE: Next stage in mobile device battery tech: rapid charging

    Been there...done that.
    james347