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February 22, 2016


Fast Charging
Mobile Devices
Nadim Maluf

We are very proud to announce today at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona that the new Sony Xperia devices will incorporate Qnovo’s adaptive charging solutions. Sony Mobile announced today new smartphones offering twice the battery cycle life in addition to long battery life — both key attributes to a satisfactory consumer battery experience.

I have written openly about the battery compromises that mobile device makers routinely put in place without telling consumers about them. This previous post shows how the Samsung Note 4 suffers from poor cycle life (its battery died after only months of use), yet Samsung was too busy promoting the fast charging feature of the Note 4 and omitted to share what happens to cycle life. I am not picking on Samsung only….battery compromises are routine in an industry that is struggling to come up with a solution to the vexing battery problems that plague consumers.

The reason why consumers keep complaining about the battery is that device manufacturers have to address simultaneously three important battery attributes: i) battery capacity, ii) long cycle life and longevity, and iii) reasonably fast charging, all of those while still offering an attractive device look and feel (read, thin). Let’s quantify each from the perspective of the consumer.

Capacity: Android smartphones need somewhere in the range of 2,500 to 3,200 mAh to offer a solid one to two days of battery life. Some manufacturers are better than others when it comes to power management. Those that have good power management can live on the low end of this spectrum. Those that have less efficient electronics, radios and displays will require a battery on the high end of this range. Capacity is not typically an attribute that device OEMs can hide, so most premium smartphones already satisfy this requirement.

Cycle life, or longevity: This is a measure of how long the battery will retain its capacity with constant use. Assuming one cycle of charging-and-discharging per day, cycle life is an approximate measure of how many days of use you will get with your smartphone before feeling that it is no longer lasting you a whole day. This is often a hidden specification from the consumer and one where many, if not most, smartphone OEMs compromise — simply because by the time the consumer discovers it, several months have passed. The Samsung Note 4 is a prime example of inadequate cycle life.  Given that many consumers keep the expensive smartphones for two years or even longer, cycle life needs to be at least 800 cycles or more. Sadly, many smartphones ship with batteries capable of meeting 300 to 500 cycles…this is just not enough, and this is one of the reasons of dissatisfaction of consumers and one of the underlying reasons that consumers complain about their experience.

Charging rate: Most Android smartphones are now introducing charge rates between 0.7C and 1.0C. This earlier post explains in more detail the what “C” means. At 0.7C, the device charges to 50% in about 40 minutes — that’s about what iPhones can do. If your phone battery can last an average of 1 to 2 days, then at 0.7C, you will get about 3 to 6 hours of use if you plug it in for a quick 5-minute charge. In other words, every 5 minutes plugged to the wall gets you 3 to 6 hours of use.  At 1.0C, it goes a little faster. The device now charges to 50% in 30 minutes. At this rate, every 5 minutes plugged to the wall gives you 4 to 8 hours of use. At 1.5C, which is really fast, 5 minutes of charging earn you 6 to 12 hours of use.

We are proud to be associated with Sony Mobile and proud that they have adopted Qnovo’s adaptive charging solutions in their Xperia line. The battery continues to be an area in need of improvement, and Qnovo is in the lead to complement battery materials with innovative intelligent charging solutions that can take the battery performance to a whole new level. In an environment where claims from various vendors promise exceptional battery performance yet fail to deliver, Qnovo stands out above the crowd with solutions that have been rigorously vetted and solutions that deliver real improvement that consumers want. And this is just the beginning.

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