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Handsets make batteries eat dust in power race

Posted: 05 Oct 2009     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:handset power  battery capacity  mobile industry 

The power requirements of mobile handsets are growing at a significantly faster rate than the capacity of the batteries that enable mobility, according to IMS Research. Thus, there is a growing gap between the power that is available to users, and the power that is required by a growing number of handset features. This threatens to slow the spread of the connected and mobile lifestyle consumers are increasingly embracing.

Handset power capacity limitations spell trouble for a number of players across the entire mobile handset industry. "Handsets with dead batteries don't use very much data or talk time. That's bad news for network operators looking to drive ARPU. Similarly, consumers are unlikely to pay a premium for features that they know will only drain their battery, which places downward pressure on handset selling prices for handset OEMs," commented IMS Research analyst, Chris Schreck.

"There are two key drivers of increased power consumption among handset users," Schreck added. "First, consumers are doing more with their handsets than ever before. Mobile data and application use has skyrocketed in recent years. Secondly, the types of features currently being included in handset designs, not to mention those on the horizon, require more power to operate than ever before. Faster processing speeds, higher data throughputs, and more vivid displays all escalate a handset's power requirements. Even with a 1,500mAh battery, which is the high water mark in the industry at the moment, our estimates show many smart phone users only have a battery life of 6 hours."

Potential solutions for this power gap are coming from all four corners of the mobile handset industry, including new display technologies, more power efficient silicon design, and new battery chemistries, each of which have varying market potential. However, given the pace at which power requirements are increasing, it is unlikely that any one technology will completely address the need for more power in mobile handsets.

Assuming power requirements for smart phone users increase at a 15 per cent rate each year, IMS Research projects the gap between power required to power capacity to mirror the following graph.

The mobile handset power gap: Heavy smart phone user (Click on image to enlarge.)

For more statistics and forecasts, click here

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