Smartphone batteries need 'breakthrough'

Getting smartphone power usage to acceptable levels will take "years" and need technology "breakthrough on multiple fronts", says Nokia's research head.
Written by Victoria Ho, Contributor

HELSINKI--It will take "years" and a technology "breakthrough on multiple fronts" before the battery lives on smartphones will reach "good" levels, according to the head of Nokia's research center, Henry Tirri.

By "good", Tirri meant phones that can last on a weekly power charge, which will support battery utilization closer to what basic phone models require today, he said at a media interview here Tuesday.

Lamenting the current state of smartphone battery life, he noted that most high-performance models with large screens do not last more than eight hours of constant usage on a single charge.

The reason is that power management research, up until recently, has focused on optimizing phones for voice and SMS messages, he said. But, in "two short years", the cellular phone industry has come up with faster, power-hungry processors and bigger, brighter screens, and power research simply "hasn't been able to catch up with this trend", said Tirri.

Solving this issue will take a "breakthrough", for multiple technologies in various phones to work optimally on less power, he noted.

Nokia is currently researching solar and kinetic power as alternative forms of energy, he added.

According to Tirri, the challenge with power is also holding back the cloud computing industry. Every device connecting to the cloud will consume more power--utilized by the central computing resource. It also takes more energy to exchange data with the cloud than to perform the computing task directly on the device, he said.

"The cloud cannot handle the next billion users... It will run out of power," said Tirri.

Victoria Ho reported from Nokia's The Way We Live Next 3.0 conference in Helsinki, Finland.

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