Yankee Group: Batteries power the mobility/smartphone ‘revolution’

Photo of iPhones taken from apple.com.
Photo of iPhones taken from apple.com.

Apple Inc.’s iPhone has the potential to become even more popular in the future because of the likely longevity of its battery life, according to Yankee Group, a Boston-based research firm focused on mobile technologies.

In a new report titled “Batteries: The Power of Mobility,” Yankee Group vice president of research Carl Howe concludes that a phone’s batter life is the most important factor that consumers consider when buying a smartphone.

Say what you will about screen size, pixel density, and snazzy features, “batteries power the mobility revolution,” writes Howe, adding that they are “the lifeblood of mobility.”

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And when consumers make a smartphone purchase decision, battery life trumps all, even price, he claims.

Given the increasing demands that consumers are putting on their smartphones, the batteries powering these devices can drain quickly. Do a lot of browsing on your smartphone, and the battery will likely run out of power before the end of the work day, or after just over seven hours of usage, said Yankee Group, citing data from GSMArena.com.

According to Howe’s analysis, battery efficiency is easier to achieve for manufacturers that can optimize both hardware and software configurations for longer operating time. In his view, Apple’s iPhone is on pace to “wring more than twice the browsing efficiency of the more hardware-agnostic Android and Windows Phone platforms by 2015.”

Howe’s conclusion: “Many consumers and smartphone salespeople obsess about the size of smartphone screens, the speed of their processors, and the technology behind their radios. But hidden behind all those smartphone features is a technology almost no one understands, yet without which we would not have any mobile communication: the battery. In our analysis of the design elements of modern smartphones and the constraints placed on batteries, we conclude that advances in battery technology itself are unlikely to yield any significant increases in battery life without other changes.”

In preparing its report, Yankee Group said it performed some original analyses correlating features of more than 850 smartphones introduced between 2009 and 2013 with measured battery life to discover which physical phone factors were best correlated with long lifetimes.