Opinion post by
Care to admit it or not, smartphones are the most important devices in our lives. They contain everything: our calls, our messages, our photos, our location, our very electronic essence. It would make sense that these vital instruments are robust, but they often are not. Perform a casual search for “smartphone battery life,” for example, and the results will vary from how-tos to detailed lists explaining which ones are best and which ones suck.
The last few years has seen a seismic shift in battery life. Value, mid-range phones that can’t compete on design, camera, and gaming features have taken a different approach: kill the flagships by offering better battery life. This is why you’ll see a flagship phone with a 3,000mAh battery from one phone maker and an affordable phone with a 4,000 or 4,500mAh battery from another.
Oversized-flagships, such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus, aside there is no shortage of complaints regarding smartphone battery life and Apple was, year after year, one of the biggest offenders. The company trotted out iPhone after iPhone that was thinner and faster than the prior model, yet no better with respect to battery life.
With the iPhone 11 family, Apple changed everything. The impact will be widespread. Here’s why.
Kill me now
Samsung used to poke fun of the Apple iPhone and its miserable battery life. The Korean company created more than one commercial that referenced the iPhone and owners’ propensity for hugging the wall outlets in airports.
While Apple’s larger Plus-sized models have largely been able to hold a charge through the day, the smaller iPhone 6, 7, and 8 phones were routinely trashed for losing their charge prematurely. Apple is not alone.
Samsung’s normal-sized Galaxy S6, S7, and S8 fall in the same category.
Google, too, has faced similar criticism of its Pixel phones. The smaller Pixel 3 and Pixel 4, for example, have terrible battery life. Seriously, the battery life is bad enough that most reviews of the 2019 Pixel phones told consumers to stay away.
The same is also true of the LG G series phones, such as the G8 ThinQ.
Crappy smartphone battery life sustains an entire ecosystem of accessories. Think portable batteries and battery cases. Hell, I don’t go anywhere without a 10,000mAh battery pack in my bag.
Thicker? Heavier? We’ll take it.
When Apple introduced the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max, perhaps the most striking point was battery life. Sure, there’s the triple-camera system, the A13 Bionic chip, and the amazing screen, but nothing surprised more than Apple’s change of heart with respect to the battery.
The company made its 2019 iPhones a little bit thicker and a little bit heavier than previous models in order to cram larger batteries inside. The result? Huge strides in battery life. Reviews of the phones boldly claimed the iPhone 11 family the best bet for battery life.
This is good news for Android lovers.
As noted, the extra big Android flagships generally do well. Even so, Google is taking it on the chin for the Pixel 4’s crummy battery life. This applies to the larger Pixel 4 XL, too.
Samsung has a window to respond. And, based on recent reports, it will. All the latest rumors regarding Samsung’s 2020 flagship, the Galaxy S11, suggest it will offer the best battery life yet of a Galaxy S phone. It had better, or the S11 will suffer when compared to Apple’s iPhone 11 family.
Samsung won’t be the only Android phone maker to respond. LG will need to, also, if it wants its G series to survive.
Every Android device manufacturer will have to boost battery life in their portfolio. Like it or not, Apple sets the stage for what’s acceptable in the industry — even where small flagships are concerned. Now that Apple has focused on providing killer battery life across its line, Android phone makers have no choice: improve or die.
Bottom line, if the 2020 crop of Android devices have a noticeable improvement in battery life, we may have to extend credit to the fruit company from Cupertino.