Smartphone users still want better battery life, YouGov survey confirms

Apple's iPhone 7 launch prompted YouGov to survey US adults about whether they wanted a headphone jack, and what else they wanted. The entirely predictable result was better battery life...
Written by Jack Schofield, Contributor
YouGov survey bar chart showing consumers want better battery life

According to a YouGov survey of US adults, Apple's new iPhone 7 does not offer what users want. Specifically, 73 percent are not interested in buying a smartphone that doesn't include a headphone jack. The broader question is what they want most, which is longer battery life. This scored 46 percent overall - and 50 percent among men. It was more desirable than a shatterproof screen (21 percent), water resistance (15 percent) or the best possible camera (12 percent).

Sadly, these users could be doubly disappointed with the iPhone 7. At the Guardian, Samuel Gibbs knocked its rating down to 3 stars in a post headed: iPhone 7 review: how good can a phone be if the battery doesn't last even a day?

The need for longer battery life has been the main finding of many previous surveys, and reviews, but are smartphone manufacturers listening?

There's an obvious trade-off between thinness and battery life, and Apple has been pushing thinness since the first iPhone came out in 2007. (Apple was also hyping thinner iPods before that, and the thinner MacBook Air from 2008.)

In theory, having a thinner smartphone means you have less to carry around. In reality, many smartphone users end up carrying more weight in the form of add-on batteries, booster packs and/or chargers. These are all less convenient than adding a couple of extra millimetres to the thickness of the phone.

Of course, saying and doing are different things. I expect that most Apple users who want a headphone jack will still buy iPhones that need an inconvenient adaptor. They probably won't have much choice... unless they are willing to switch to Android.

Apple is not going to offer almost identical iPhones with and without headphone jacks - or with and without better battery life - because Apple decides these things in its infinite wisdom, and users suck up the results. If choosing "no headphone jack" also means no iOS, no iOS apps, no Apple Pay, and a loss of integration with the Apple ecosystem, that's a choice few iPhone users are likely to make.

But in the Android market, many smartphone manufacturers have similar products, and long battery life could be a differentiator.

Indeed, this could already be a factor in Samsung's success. The Galaxy S7 Active and Edge models top CNET's running list of 6 phones with the best battery life, running for 21 hours and 19 hours in its lab tests. The Note 7 should also score well.

Two smartphones not on CNET's page are the Asus Zenfone Max and the Motorola Z Play. The Zenfone Max might be worth a look because it has a 5000mAh battery, which is significantly bigger than average. Meanwhile, the Motorola Z Play is promoted as having a 50-hour battery life, subject to the usual disclaimers. I've not used either of these phones, but they suggest that some people are listening to user demands, even if Apple isn't.

It would be good to see a major brand make a serious play for the long battery life market. A cheap Chinese phone, the Oukitel K10000, has been announced with a 10000mAh battery claimed to last up to 10 days, so a high-end 3-day smartphone should be achievable.

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