Some Random Thoughts About Phone Batteries

iOS 8 Wave

Wirelessly charging your iPhone via your microwave? Seems legit…

Of course it’s not; it’s yet another prank making the rounds on the web—I myself caught it on Imgur last week. And after only a few days of circulation it’s claimed enough hapless victims to make the mainstream media. Most of us would be content to sit back and enjoy some LULZ at the expense of gullible morons who should have known better. But maybe, if you’re like me, you’ll take a step back and consider the bigger picture.

This is really about the battery life in our smartphones, and how it needs to be better.

With a few exceptions—Samsung’s Galaxy Note phablets and the Droid Maxx are two examples that immediately come to mind—batteries haven’t really kept up with the growing power needs of modern devices. Why else would users be singing the praises of charging cases and external batteries on these forums? Where my old Nokia N86 would go for three days between charges, my Nexus 5 will last but one. Barely.

There is a solution that seems to be gaining traction in the industry, but it seems to me like more of a kludge. I first heard of quick-charging batteries on the Oppo Find 7 and Find 7a:

Oppo Rapid Charge

Now it seems that Samsung has a similar fast-charging solution for their forthcoming Galaxy Note 4.

I have to say, I’m skeptical.

I’ll admit upfront that I know very little about this particular technology, but two things worry me. At the very least I suspect that it’s going to mess with the near-universal standard of micro USB charging—that is, I don’t think for a second that I’d be able to use an Oppo quick-charging plug with a Samsung, or vice versa. The even bigger concern is that this is nothing more than a gimmick, one that could potentially wreak havoc on your battery. In a Samsung it’s not as big a deal as the battery can be replaced, but when I think about quick-charging batteries in general I can’t help but be reminded of those exploding Dell laptops from a few years back.

However, like I say, I’m largely ignorant of rapid charging; for all I know the technology has already proven itself in another industry. Can someone school me on this?