Battery life is the last major hurdle for smartphones to overcome, but a major breakthrough could be just around the corner. Could we soon get days or maybe even weeks of playtime between charges?
Smartphones these days are as powerful as some laptops, with high-definition screens, professional camera technology and access to almost any kind of service you'd desire. But there's a victim of all this progress, and that's battery life. As mobile tech improved, battery life has dropped from several days to roughly 24 hours, and if you can't stop streaming cat videos, you're lucky to make it through the morning.
But there are some solutions already emerging, which could see mobile phone battery life suddenly extended to its former glory and beyond. From the teenage genius and her powerful nano-battery, to the phone which uses e-ink tech, could these be the ideas we need to ditch the phone charger?
The teenage genius
One exciting talent to keep an eye on is Eesha Khare, a Harvard student who developed an award-winning battery last year. Her tiny invention can store an impressive amount of energy despite its miniature size, a key factor that could revolutionise smartphone battery technology.
Eesha's 'supercapacitor energy storage device' is made of carbon fibre and metal oxides, and the clever nanotech not only charges mobile devices at a faster rate than previously possible, it also holds charge for much longer. Her uber-battery won her the Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award last year, and she's also showed off the invention on Conan O'Brien's talk show.
But it's not a case of job done - Eesha is still working on her project, stating 'my goal is to have a supercapacitor charge a mobile device in less than a minute'. And while she hasn't sold the technology to any manufacturers yet, she did reveal that Google approached her recently...
The innovative e-ink phone
Smartphone manufacturer Yota Devices has come up with another way of extending a mobile's battery life, with its innovative YotaPhone. This dual-screen device looks like your typical phone, with one key difference - there's an e-ink display (like the Amazon Kindle's) around the back.
The idea is that you use the low-powered e-ink screen to check your notifications, read and reply to messages etc, only turning on the power-sapping main screen to watch video, play wth apps and so on. It's a smart idea, but sadly the YotaPhone is a wee bit cack, as you'll see from our review.
Here's hoping the YotaPhone 2, due out at the end of 2014, addresses most of the original smartphone's issues (so far it looks promising, with a responsive touch e-ink screen and commendable specs).
One of the biggest new developments in battery tech is wireless charging, but not the gubbins that has you sticking your phone on a pad all day. Ossia Inc. revealed its cool new Cota project last year, which can charge multiple mobile devices wirelessly over a distance of 30 feet, even through clothes, walls and doors. That means you could potentially ditch your smartphone's charger altogether, if these wireless base stations are cheap enough to install in your home and appear in work places.
The tech is still far from perfect, sadly. Most of the energy is lost between the charging station and the receiver, and the power transmitted has a one watt limit, just about enough to power a smartphone. But as research continues, we're hopeful that wireless charging will replace those irritating cables entirely.
Until that magical day when mobile battery life suddenly shoots up, here's some tips to getting longer life from your phone...
Source for Eeesha Khare
Source for Cota