3G iPhone proves that battery life is a problem for everyone!

Posted on 13 July 2008, Last updated on 13 July 2008 by

This tickled me. A post on Friendfeed a short while ago…

“As the iPhone begins to resemble and be used like a computer, we will have to contend with challenges like crashing and battery life.” [Steve Rubel]

He’s right. Many people still assume that smartphones have excellent battery life compared to UMPCs. The reality is slightly less exciting if you use both devices for mobile Internet activities on a regular basis.

Apart from having a little giggle, the comment also reminded me to check up on the reported iPhone 3G battery life and compare it with my figures. I came up with an interesting article from AnandTech who have completed a browsing test which resulted in a dead iPhone in just over three hours. That’s much less than the 5-hrs quoted by Apple. It’s not even the most power-hungry test you could do on an iPhone. Try doing some Voip, live tracking or even IM with some music playing in the background and you’ll have a dead iPhone in under 2 hrs. Well, you would if the Iphone would let you run 3rd party background tasks!

3G radios, GPUs, displays are all going to take a lot of power whether they’re on a ultra mobile PC or a smartphone. Add 3rd-party software into the mix and you find that if you want the FIE on a regular basis, there’s no substitute for a fat battery!  As I mentioned in a previous article, 10wh is about your minimum battery size for any serious mobile Internet device in 2008 and 2009. The battery in the iPhone is only 5wh (possibly only 4wh according to this article.) 

In perspective, the iPhone 3G is still an impressively efficient device. 1.5W maximum power drain makes it one of the most energy efficient MIDs around and it’s still leading the way in the consumer-oriented market. In 2007 we were seeing best-of-breed UMPCs taking 9W to do similar 3G browsing tasks. Later in 2008, the differential will shrink to just 2 or 3watts and in 2010, the differential will be close to zero but in all cases, you still need that big battery if you need the FIE for long periods between charges. For now, the multi-device strategy still seems to be the best for you pro-mobile users.

[If you spot any other iPhone 3G battery life tests that were done under ‘MID’ conditions. Please drop me a comment. I’m interested. Thanks.]

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