The performance and functionality of smartphones continues to advance at a steady pace. But battery technology lags behind in comparison. We've spent some time talking to the folks at Leyden Energy about its Li-imide platform, and have some idea about what the future holds. However, there's no question that adding features to our handheld devices has to happen with a mind to their practical battery life.
A glance at capacity is one way to approximate a phone's ability to deliver one full day's endurance. Our in-depth explorations into platform power use prove that consumption is an equally influential variable, though. Even as Intel's engineering team talks up the efficiency of current-gen Atom SoCs, Qualcomm has far more experience in this space and also seems eager to address the power use of its Snapdragon SoCs in a public forum.
In a blog post published this morning, Qualcomm included a video comparing the dual-core Snapdragon 400 (MSM8x30) at 1.2 GHz to an unnamed quad-core competitor at the same clock rate.
The video shows two phones hooked up to power supplies delivering a constant 3.7 V, bypassing the batteries. Via time lapse, you're shown the amperage each phone draws at idle, during a phone call, and without the display turned on. Naturally, the dual-core Snapdragon-based platform (we have to think of this as total platform power) pulls less current. As the competing phone's screen is turned off (with the call still in progress), we see it roughly matching the Qualcomm-powered device with its display still on. Screen-off, Qualcomm claims a similar efficiency advantage, percentage-wise.
Of course, we're missing some vital information from this experiment. Mainly, what's that phone sitting next to what appears to be HTC's One VX (incidentally, if that's the One VX, we're technically looking at an MSM8930)? Possible options include the 32 nm Samsung Exynos 4 Quad or 40 nm Nvidia Tegra 3, though both suffer inherent disadvantages in that they're manufactured using older process technology and don't include integrated cellular modems like the Qualcomm solution does. Looking at the same 28 nm class, however, it could also be a Cortex-A7-based MediaTek MT6589 device.