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Expect Faster Charging, Not Longer Lasting, Phone Batteries

Huawei is showing off a smartphone battery that can charge nearly halfway in just five minutes.


The bad news on the mobile power front is that, much as we all want longer-lasting batteries, there is little on the horizon that will allow phones to last for days on end without a charge.

While chips double in speed and power roughly every two years, battery technology has been advancing only at about 10 percent per year. And most of that advancement is going to support bigger screens and more features rather than providing longer battery life. The result is that phones still last about a day, and not even that for heavy users.

The good news, however, is there is far faster advancement in another area: Quick recharging of those same batteries.


At a battery conference in Japan on Friday, Huawei unveiled a quick-charging cell phone battery that can be charged to nearly half of capacity in five minutes. Another, smaller capacity battery can get two-thirds of a full charge in just two minutes, Huawei said. Huawei didn’t immediately say when it expects its faster-charging batteries to hit the market.

“Soon, we will all be able to charge our batteries to full power in the time it takes to grab a coffee,” Huawei said in a statement.

Qualcomm already builds support for a quick charging feature into many of its chips. Starting with next year’s Snapdragon 820 and other new chips, Qualcomm is promising a further 38 percent improvement with Quick Charge 3.0, which it says is four times faster than conventional charging.

Even with today’s fast-charging options, phones like the Droid Turbo 2, LG G4, BlackBerry Priv and Galaxy Note 4 come with Version 2 of Qualcomm’s technology, which allows a large phone battery to get a 60 percent charge in 30 minutes, compared to about a 12 percent charge in the same time using a conventional charger.

Samsung also has a fast charging feature in its Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge.

The other related area in which smartphones have improved is in letting you know which apps are draining your battery fastest and offering some options when battery life gets low. The latest version of iOS, for example, added a low-power mode.

Android 6.0 Marshmallow, meanwhile, offers several techniques designed to save battery life, including putting phones into a “doze” mode when they are not being used and also allowing specific apps to go into standby mode when they are being less frequently used.

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