Customers prefer thin over working mobile phones WTF!

I am shocked appalled at this report…

At an event today, HTCs vice president of product strategy Bjorn Kilburn noted that the company had conducted research last year to find out whether customers preferred thin smartphones to those which compromised thickness for better battery life. The answer, interestingly, was that they generally preferred thinness, at which point its plans for 3,000mAh-plus devices were removed from the roadmap.

via HTC: customers prefer thin phones to better battery life | The Verge.

What the hell was the question they asked? Do you want a brick with excellent battery life? or a wafer thin mint that will run for 8 hours? I can only guess two things here, that Steve Jobs was right and you shouldn’t ask customers what they want or that they did ask the most stupidly and self serving research questions in the world!

I don’t think we need a phone that lasts a couple of days, but I truly believe the middle ground is that the phone MUST last under normal to heavy voice, video and data usage for 12 to 14 hours but it must be less than2 to 3 cms thick (which frankly is thin in my book). This is achievable today with good design. Right now phone manufacturers are making the equivalent of cars with 1 gallon fuel tanks… great around town near a petrol station, but useful for doing anything for longer. A car such as that would be seen as being fundamentally flawed and would sell like a plague carrier, so should a mobile phone that lasts 8 hours or less.

Samsung S2 Battery extender

Battery life is the bane of the Smartphone user and for most getting 10 hours use out of their mobile phone is an achievement. There are a great deal of workarounds for this problem, most involving carrying a large external USB charger device as I have talked about before on this blog or a battery jacket of some sort. The big issue with those are that you have to attach them to your phone for some time during the day which makes it all a little unwieldy at times. During last summer I upgraded to a Samsung S2 mobile phone and for a great deal of last year, this phone had excellent battery life, getting 10 to 15 hours of usage each day. Then I returned to work in the UK for an extended period and I quickly noticed my battery life was significantly down, getting between 6 and 10 hours depending upon my usage. The penny dropped – my data usage was now going over 3G and not WiFi. My phone battery life was suffering from the vagaries of the signal reception causing additional battery drain and the fact that 3G is a higher drain anyway.

Samsung S2 Extended Life BatteryI started the search for an extended life battery and stopped first with Samsung themselves. What they had was a 1950mAh extended life battery which I could not describe as extended life as the standard battery is 1650mAh and this was for a MRP of £19.99! What a waste. I kept looking and found a 3rd party extended battery which provides 3500mAh on from Accessories Online. Now 3rd party batteries are a little troublesome due to a past record of safety and quality issues, but I crossed my fingers and ordered one for the grand price of £7.90 (price seems to vary a little) thinking if it did not work I only lose the money and possibly my fingers in the resulting fire :-)

However that is not how it has turned out, the battery has turned out to be a fantastic addition to the phone and certainly pushes the Samsung S2’s real world usage up beyond 20 hours of normal everyday use away from WiFi networks. In fact some days I find that I am putting it on charge with 50% still on the phone as I go to bed. I can really recommend it with two provisos. The first one is a stupid one, it does take twice as long to charge it obviously. The second is that this battery is double the thickness and you can thus see the problem – how the hell does it fit in the phone. The simple answer is that it doesn’t, it fits into the phone space and you have to have a new back plate that doubles the maximum thickness of the phone. You also have to realise that it also adds a bit of weight to the phone.

However I am fine with the extra thickness as it only makes it as thick as an older style phone or an iPhone 3GS in a case. It fits very comfortably in the hand and I have never really had thin as a required feature for my phone. The problem is that no cases will now fit and if you use a desktop cradle that is also not usage (unless you can modify the fitting as I have done to make it work). The additional weight is also not something I care too much about but it does make the phone seem a lot more solid rather than heavy.

I have been using this now for four weeks and I have not suffered a problem with it, and it has really liberated me for my phone usage on an every day basis. In fact during the time I have been using this battery, Motorola US has released the Razer Maxx which does something very similar but with a more svelte fitting than this bolt on is. This is as a smartphone is supposed to be.

Battery Life is a Feature

I do not always follow every iDevice rumour but the one I do hope would come true (and not just for iDevices) is extending battery life further.

High End Version of New iPads Get Extra Battery Life

Reports are coming in that Apple will be unveiling two versions of iPad3 this early 2012, one for the high-end segment and one for the mid-range segment. One rumored improvement of these new devices over their predecessor is longer battery span, which will be increased to 14,000mAH.

This rumour is probably absolute nonsense but I hope device designers out there really start to focus on battery life as a primary feature of a mobile device, and not as a secondary one. Devices need to be able to run through a heavy working day with some spare capacity without the need for me to carry my trusty recharger.


Perfect Traveller Mobile

After a poor discussion with mobile phone operator regarding upgrades to iPhone4 (no I will not pay £290 AND a 2 year contract for an upgrade), I decided to go elsewhere for a new mobile phone. I had to get a new one primarily because my iPhone3’s battery life was degrading at such a rate that I could not get through half the day before it had to be charged. Of course Apple had made that design decision early on that the battery was not a user changeable aspect of the phone.

This got me thinking about what makes the ideal mobile for the traveller, and I came up with the following list:

1. Smartphone, not ordinary phone – because you need to carry your entire address book with you and have email/web access at all times, because you never know when your itinerary changes and everything has to be at your fingertips
2. Unlocked – for switching in local Sims
3. Good all day battery life – because it has to work all day under normal usage
4. Standard charger – because you will forget or lose yours
5. USB charging – because your laptop is a great battery recharger
6. WiFi connectivity – because 3G data roaming costs a fortune
7. GPS – because you need a mapping application to figure out where you are and where you are going to

I used some of these ideas in finding my new phone (an Android 2.1 based middle of the range/budget device), but what makes your ideal phone?

Is the new MacBook Air eating into iPad sales?

Since the Late 2010 MacBook Air was released, there has been a huge amount of interest in the small and light space. Now the headlines are coming through asking the obvious bait question:-

Is the new MacBook Air eating into iPad sales?.

Until the recent release, most people were posting about whether the iPad was eating into Netbook sales. This sounds repetitive but I do not doubt the figures. There is variation in demand for these tools.

I prefer however to look at the wider situation – the one where I see netbooks used all over by many people and I also see many people using iPads, and also see many people using what could be called netbooks, but are actually ultralight notebooks. It all comes down to mobility and what people feel is useful for their particular situation, and I see the future for all of them.

I see this because I have netbooks, an iPad and an ultra-light notebook and use them according to need and suitability. I use my netbook when I want something small but I also want to generate content, and make use of particular software. I use my iPad for home browsing and quick consumption of content (particularly electronic magazines) within my home. I use my ultra-light for actual day to day work. I have a use for all of them…

They all have two things in common – good size for portable use and lots of battery life.

Never caught short of power

One of the most useful features of the modern laptop is the always powered USB port – a port (or all ports) that have their 5V, 500mA supply always available regardless of whether the laptop is on or off. How is this useful? Well if you are like me and have pretty much all of your business and travel tech rechargeable from a USB lead, this means that you can always boost your kit in transit from your laptop. This is particularly potent when you have a modern laptop with an enormous battery giving 10 hours+.

iphone_battery Of course, you have to make sure that all your devices are chargeable from a USB cable, but then that can be easy these days unless you have a liking for old Nokia mobile phones.

Battery Life

Whether you use a netbook or an ultramobile notebook (same difference!), the one of the most important requirements in my view, particularly for the very mobile worker, is that it has a significant battery life – whole day preferably.

Down with 3-Cell Batteries: Netbooks Should Have 5+ Hours of Battery Life

The only problem with many 6 cell batteries is the sometimes awkward shape and the additional weight that it generally gives the notebook. In fact when I come to replace my existing machine, I will be looking at those machines that give at least 5 hours of battery life. How about you? Do you believe battery life is so important?