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New Technology Could Double Smartphone Battery Life

By - Source: TechRadar | B 23 comments

Power amplifiers found in smartphones waste around 65 percent of a device's power.

A team of researchers at a startup called Eta Devices have purportedly found a way to reduce smartphone battery consumption by half.

A power amplifier is one of the more wasteful power consumption components of a smartphone's battery. It's a chip that's utilized to convert electricity into radio signals, as well as to maintain a device's connection to a wireless network.

Power amplifiers waste around 65 percent of a handset's battery power and also cause a smartphone to heat up when a user streams a video or uploads large files.

Eta Devices, however, has redesigned the power amplifier by making use of technology dubbed "asymmetric multilevel outphasing". It selects the minimum voltage required to maintain a connection, and updates around 20 million times per second in order to deliver the highest efficiency.

The group behind the firm is currently developing the new power amplifier technology for cellular base stations, which also suffer from similar power consumption issues. The new chips are scheduled to be shipped sometime during 2013.

The startup firm said its plans for creating a single power amplifier chip could lead an energy efficiency revolution on smartphones. The technology behind the new power amplifiers would ensure smartphone batteries would last twice as long as they normally would. The chip would also make it possible to implement the amplifier in CPU and display technologies.


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Top Comments
  • 15 Hide
    techcurious , November 14, 2012 8:33 AM
    I am not convinced by 50% savings claim.. that is if everything else in the smartphone is the same except that.. unless they are talking about stand-by time or talk time while the screen is off..
    It is my assumption that during active use, the Screen is one of the bigger power drains on a smartphone. So between the screen, the processor, memory and the Power Amplifier, the power amplifier uses the lions share of your battery at about 65%? If that were the case, then why did older phones from 6 years ago that also had WiFi etc last at least 3 times longer than current smart phones?
    My assumptions could be wrong of course..
    Oh, unless they are also planning to combine the inevitable improvements in screen, processor and memory power efficiencies, in 12 months, with the improvements they offer and then say "See! We were right, your phone now lasts twice as long!"
  • 10 Hide
    derekullo , November 14, 2012 7:32 AM
    Old Technology Could Halve Smartphone Battery Life
Other Comments
  • 10 Hide
    derekullo , November 14, 2012 7:32 AM
    Old Technology Could Halve Smartphone Battery Life
  • Display all 23 comments.
  • 3 Hide
    cats_Paw , November 14, 2012 8:26 AM
    As far as i know, a battery could fuel a Laptop for a month with todays top notch technology. Its just too expensive, and the probability of failure is higher, so that "1 year warranty" would increase costs for companies.

    Its a bit sad, since having a "mobile device" is little to no use if you must have a power source each 10 hours of use.
  • 15 Hide
    techcurious , November 14, 2012 8:33 AM
    I am not convinced by 50% savings claim.. that is if everything else in the smartphone is the same except that.. unless they are talking about stand-by time or talk time while the screen is off..
    It is my assumption that during active use, the Screen is one of the bigger power drains on a smartphone. So between the screen, the processor, memory and the Power Amplifier, the power amplifier uses the lions share of your battery at about 65%? If that were the case, then why did older phones from 6 years ago that also had WiFi etc last at least 3 times longer than current smart phones?
    My assumptions could be wrong of course..
    Oh, unless they are also planning to combine the inevitable improvements in screen, processor and memory power efficiencies, in 12 months, with the improvements they offer and then say "See! We were right, your phone now lasts twice as long!"
  • 1 Hide
    abbadon_34 , November 14, 2012 8:50 AM
    I'm glad I sat through that HP battery video from a few months back, that battery life is constrained more by consumer preference and product liability than anything else. We have the tech for a laptop battery to running a power hungry game like BF3 for over 24 hours but "practical" constraints limits a gain of 10% per year. Apple (device must be pretty) + US Trial Lawyers (one mistake you're out of businesss) = Poor Battery Life.

    edit: "US" Trial Lawyers
  • 1 Hide
    Thomas Creel , November 14, 2012 9:05 AM
    Will we see anything similar in laptops?
  • 3 Hide
    tomfreak , November 14, 2012 9:20 AM
    an ideal battery length should be 24hours .Since we human will always go to bed every 18hours.
  • 5 Hide
    techcurious , November 14, 2012 9:34 AM
    Tomfreakan ideal battery length should be 24hours .Since we human will always go to bed every 18hours.

    When they develop a battery that could last 24 hours, they won't equip your laptop with it. Instead they will use a battery half it's size and you end up with under 12 hours of use.
    Their logic is that any excess battery size and weight (and cost) that is not used by the majority most of the time is a waste, and they would rather keep costs, size and weight of their final products down. Also, reducing the capacity by 50% would also reduce the charging time by about 30% or more..
    Same thing applies to smartphones..
    But I think that although they shouldn't change this attitude for all models (so people have choice), the majority of smartphones now (and for the last 2 years) can afford to be a bit thicker to accommodate bigger batteries to give a full day of active use.
    Lighter and slimmer should be an option, but not the default across the board.
    That way if you really don't use your laptop for more than a couple of hours a day, why shlep around an extra pound of weight that gives you 12 hours or more of extra and unneeded battery time?
    I would like a 12 hour laptop and a 24 hour heavy use smartphone.
  • 2 Hide
    CrArC , November 14, 2012 9:40 AM
    techcuriousI am not convinced by 50% savings claim.. that is if everything else in the smartphone is the same except that.. unless they are talking about stand-by time or talk time while the screen is off..
    They are indeed on about standby time. The screen, and the CPU/GPU combination required to drive it (especially these newer super-res devices) drink battery life in comparison to a little radio. You wouldn't really notice the difference in battery life if comparing while the phone is being used.

    However, it's still important, and double-life is not an outlandish claim. I can already double the battery life of my phone by installing an app that manages radio use better (Wifi, 3G, etc) when I am not using the phone. And it really is double

    Unfortunately this comes at the cost of response time (as the various radios must fire up occasionally to check for messages/data and also fire up when try to use the phone), whereas the technology that this article describes would allow the radio to remain active and respond immediately with similar results on battery life.

    Having said that, we're only talking a few seconds for my phone to wake up the radio gear at present. It's not that big a trade-off for twice the battery life, tbh. Obviously the phone also drains at the normal rate when being used, but that's the thing - most of the time, your phone is not being used, so there are big savings to be made.
  • -5 Hide
    icemunk , November 14, 2012 9:51 AM
    So many cynical posters... If you haven't noticed, battery life for laptops has increased substantially in the last few years. Rememeber the 1.5 hour laptop battery life just two or three years back? Now we can get 4-5 hours, and efficiency is increasing at a staggering rate these days.
  • 2 Hide
    techcurious , November 14, 2012 10:11 AM
    icemunkSo many cynical posters... If you haven't noticed, battery life for laptops has increased substantially in the last few years. Rememeber the 1.5 hour laptop battery life just two or three years back? Now we can get 4-5 hours, and efficiency is increasing at a staggering rate these days.

    we got a little off topic with laptops, as this article was talking about smartphones.. and smartphone battery life is still quite low.. no one said laptop batteries haven't improved (even 9 hours with some ultrabooks).. but that has nothing to do with the topic at hand..
  • 1 Hide
    danwat1234 , November 14, 2012 11:14 AM
    Boost by 65%? Last I checked, on a smart phone's power usage screen, the screen backlight takes the most power. Unless you have the screen shut off or dimmed all the way, the power amplifier is not the main consumer of power in a smart phone.
  • 1 Hide
    IndignantSkeptic , November 14, 2012 12:19 PM
    I thought devices already modified the amount of power used for data transmission according to need. Also, 20 million times per second?! Isn't that excessive? Wouldn't even 1 time per second be excessive?
  • 4 Hide
    lamorpa , November 14, 2012 12:22 PM
    Cats_PawAs far as i know, a battery could fuel a Laptop for a month with todays top notch technology...

    You need to know more. That's not even close to being true.
  • -1 Hide
    lamorpa , November 14, 2012 12:24 PM
    Thomas CreelWill we see anything similar in laptops?

    Why? Almost no laptops use a cellular connection. Did you even read the article?
  • -1 Hide
    tomfreak , November 14, 2012 12:31 PM
    techcuriousWhen they develop a battery that could last 24 hours, they won't equip your laptop with it. Instead they will use a battery half it's size and you end up with under 12 hours of use.Their logic is that any excess battery size and weight (and cost) that is not used by the majority most of the time is a waste, and they would rather keep costs, size and weight of their final products down. Also, reducing the capacity by 50% would also reduce the charging time by about 30% or more..Same thing applies to smartphones..But I think that although they shouldn't change this attitude for all models (so people have choice), the majority of smartphones now (and for the last 2 years) can afford to be a bit thicker to accommodate bigger batteries to give a full day of active use.Lighter and slimmer should be an option, but not the default across the board.That way if you really don't use your laptop for more than a couple of hours a day, why shlep around an extra pound of weight that gives you 12 hours or more of extra and unneeded battery time?I would like a 12 hour laptop and a 24 hour heavy use smartphone.
    I disagree on 12hours laptop, i have use my ipad 3, 6hours isnt anywhere near enough for heavy use to totally ignore charging for the day. 9hours batttery is for light usage only. as for laptop? I even completely skip using my laptop on battery because it is too short to make any sense.

    and I personally do not think people have to bring their powerbrick with their laptop to work outdoor. 12hours of battery life isnt gonna be enough for heavy user, u also need to factor in the battery capacity losing its charge overtime. about 2-4yrs later ur device is not gonna last any where near its original spec. So it is not gonna be 12hours. So 24hours for all mobile device minus battery aging after a few yrs should just about right for everyone even the heavy user.

    I want to forget about charging my mobile phone/laptop when I am awake. unfortunately these kind of luxury doesnt exist in mainstream common standard.
  • 3 Hide
    Lekko , November 14, 2012 1:06 PM
    To get an idea of how much better battery life would be for real world use, just put your phone in airplane mode.
  • 0 Hide
    mavikt , November 14, 2012 1:07 PM
    Tomfreakan ideal battery length should be 24hours .Since we human will always go to bed every 18hours.

    Lol, going to bed will charge you, not the battery... Are you that kind of person who isn't concerned with power outages because you live in the city? :-)
  • 0 Hide
    tomaz99 , November 14, 2012 1:43 PM
    I don't think that will help at all in the grand scheme of things.

    If we're all moving to Ultra HD resolution and a bright screen that can double as stadium flood lighting then this will just get noted as "that's neat".

    Doubling battery life would involve implementing Commodore 64 graphics of 300x200 (and 16 colors !).
  • 0 Hide
    becherovka , November 14, 2012 5:09 PM
    It does depend on the phone my LG 2x would be close to the 65% on normal to light use. If i am playing games reading a kindle book or something this would change.
    Even for better phones every bit helps.
  • 1 Hide
    Mhawk13 , November 15, 2012 12:11 AM
    CrArCThey are indeed on about standby time. The screen, and the CPU/GPU combination required to drive it (especially these newer super-res devices) drink battery life in comparison to a little radio. You wouldn't really notice the difference in battery life if comparing while the phone is being used.However, it's still important, and double-life is not an outlandish claim. I can already double the battery life of my phone by installing an app that manages radio use better (Wifi, 3G, etc) when I am not using the phone. And it really is doubleUnfortunately this comes at the cost of response time (as the various radios must fire up occasionally to check for messages/data and also fire up when try to use the phone), whereas the technology that this article describes would allow the radio to remain active and respond immediately with similar results on battery life.Having said that, we're only talking a few seconds for my phone to wake up the radio gear at present. It's not that big a trade-off for twice the battery life, tbh. Obviously the phone also drains at the normal rate when being used, but that's the thing - most of the time, your phone is not being used, so there are big savings to be made.

    What app is that? I turned off my smartphone's 3G because it drains too much battery life, this app would be really useful for me. Thanks.
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