The downward battery size trend and battery deterioration

Low battery is the bane of an avid smartphone user’s life. We all have had to face it, be it at class or somewhere out hiking, and in all honesty, running out of power midway in your day is quite frustrating. One of the problems that I have continued to notice is that with each passing year, phones are becoming thinner, essential features are being thrown away (RIP headphone jack), and that batteries are becoming smaller in capacity.

Battery size trend

I, for the life of me, cannot explain why this trend is happening. One thing is for sure, though. With your power hungry 2K screens and hi-res cameras in smartphones these days, you see them as juice suckers.

A couple of years ago, a massive mistake named the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 happened. It overheated, it had to be underclocked, and it made sure that it messed up the battery so nicely that you would run out of battery in less than 6 hours of active usage. Phone batteries should be large enough to at least get you through a day and a half.

However, the battery size in smartphones is not increasing, which sucks big time. Here’s where power banks come in. Today, having a power bank in your backpack is quintessential. I don’t recall a single day where I headed out without one with me. Perhaps, the safety of not having to worry about running out lures me to always keep an eye on the battery bank market.

Battery deterioration

Battery deterioration over time

The lifetime of a battery is broadly defined as being the length of acceptable performance received from a battery, measured in years or in charge/discharge cycles. As you use and discharge your battery, you will have to eventually recharge it. The wear and tear of this cause the battery’s capacity to shrink over time.

Most smartphones today use LiPo batteries. The advantage of LiPo over Li-ion is that they can be made into various shapes and sizes, and are generally more reliable. When we consider LiPo batteries, most of their capacity loss comes due to age. However, abuse of the device by using it all the time may also result in loss of battery life. It is worth noting that the internal resistance of the battery also increases with age and thus the battery is able to supply less current without overheating. When the battery overheats, it tends to lose capacity over time as well.

Different manufacturers have dissimilar approaches to address these issues by different chemical systems, additives, form factors, and dimensions, which will have significant effect to different performances and usages of the batteries. Thus, your mileage with your batteries may vary depending on who manufactured them.

Final thoughts

Regardless of whatever the use case of your smartphone is, running low on battery is not a great thing to have. Since we need to upgrade our smartphones every 2-3 years or so, we have to deal with smaller batteries, since manufacturers seem to be in a downward spiral that I am not a big fan of. I wish every smartphone packed a 5000 mAh battery. Life would be awesome.

Source:  Graph

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