Piquing my curiosity, I’ve been looking at the mAh values for numerous batteries of phones I have previously used.

Device
Year
Platform
Talk Time
mAh
LG VX60002003WISE2.5950
Sanyo 81002003Proprietary (?)2.8950
Audiovox 89002003Proprietary (?)2.51000
Motorola Razr V32004P2K3.8940
Nokia 31002004Symbian4850
Blackberry 87002005BB OS 4.241100
Motorola V3302005P2K3.8820
Samsung A6002005SHP2.7900
HTC 85252006Windows Mobile 6.041350
Samsung Blackjack2006Windows Mobile 6.031200
SonyEricsson W600i2006Proprietary (?)8.5900
Blackberry Curve2007BB OS 4.54.51150
Nokia N952007Symbian Series 6051200
HTC Touch Diamond Pro2008Windows Mobile 6.551100
Nokia E712008Symbian Series 604.51500
HTC Nexus One2009Android 2.271400
iPhone 3GS2009iOS 4.051200
Nokia N82010Symbian 35.81200
Blackberry Torch2010BB OS 6.05.81300
Motorola Droid II2010Android 2.29.61390
Samsung Galaxy S2010Android 2.26.51500
iPhone 4G2010iOS 4.171420
Palm Pre Plus2010WebOS51150
SonyEricsson X102010Android 2.281500

As you can see from the table above, talk times have generally been increasing over the years. Is that because the battery technology is getting better, probably not and more likely because the software managing the radios have gotten more efficient.

Graphing the ratio between talk time and mAh:

mAh for Phones

The ratio validates that battery consumption for voice has improved. Note, I used the word consumption rather than life since it is software driving this improvement. Also note, that since 2003, 3G radios are standard although for many years and on some devices, voice is still done over the 2G radio which is less power hungry (or at least my understanding).

Maybe a reader will see a more interesting correlation but my analysis draws me to the book Moneyball. If you haven’t read Moneyball, the thesis is that the statistics used in the past to measure the effectiveness of something (ie baseball players in the case of Moneyball) need to adapt over time – meaning that a stat used to measure something 10 years ago may not be relevant today.

Phones are still measured on talk time but this is the fallacy in that voice minute consumption for the first time, is starting to decline in the US. People don’t talk anymore but rather browse the internet or send SMS or use apps. This may even be a double-whammy since it’s not clear whether the platform and OEMs are optimizing for this stat rather than real-life usage patterns?

What do you think should be the new statistic to measuring the battery efficiency of a mobile device? Megabytes downloaded? SMS sent? App usage time? Or maybe based on averages based on personas? Obviously, the challenge with all of this is determining a fair test across different devices and networks.

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  • AD

    Hi,

    Very insightful blog.

    There are additional details here, most important one is that phones have evolved over the years (feature phones to Smartphone), and are capable of performing more tasks than their older siblings.

    As the phone users behavior shifts to “apps”, talktime becomes even more irrelevant metric. I think the most meaningful battery usage metric should factor in all the criteria you state in the blog, plus the reality of multi-tasking.