From the Editor’s Desk: We don’t need longer battery life, we just need to use our phones less
Consider this option.
I haven't met someone who doesn't complain about the battery life on their phone to some extent. Walking through airports, as I so often do, people aggressively hunt for power outlets so they can charge up their phone. On the streets of every major city I visit there are people walking with a power bank stacked underneath their phone with a USB cable so they don't have to stop using it on the go. Market demand has generated a near-infinite number of car phone charger choices for topping up while driving. If you asked anyone in these situations what they'd give up to get something like 30% longer battery life, I bet the list would be extensive and perhaps worrisome.
But here's an idea: what if instead of complaining about battery life and chasing power outlets or buying battery packs, we just chose to use our phones a little less?
In your desire to find an airport power outlet, you're making your traveling experience far more stressful. By connecting to that 5000mAh battery pack to juice up on the go, you aren't paying attention to the world around you. And for what? So you can scroll through Twitter endlessly, play Pokémon Go for a couple more hours, watch 15 episodes of a series on Netflix, or add posts to your Instagram story? The lengths we'll go to power up our phones seem like they introduce far larger trade-offs than the benefit we gain from the increasingly meaningless and mundane things we're so often doing with our phones.
Smartphones are used for many critical things — but most of our battery goes down the drain on useless things.
Yes I understand that for some people, using their phone is critical and not a choice. A parent needs to be able to keep in touch with their kids. A worker on a remote job site has to be able to connect back to the home office for information and reporting. All sorts of very important communication, information gathering, commerce and, well, downright fun stuff comes through our smartphones — most of which is improving and enriching our lives. The question is whether or not we're able to take an honest look at our usage of smartphones and decide that if we really only used them for things that "matter" (which is different for everyone), perhaps their current battery life offering is more than sufficient.
In the past year there has been a groundswell of people talking about smartphone addiction, along with plenty of thoughts of just how bad it is and what can be done — either personally or societally — to slow its effects. It generally centers around the idea that people have gotten so deep into interactions with their phones that they see the phone as the center of their world and the real world as secondary in many circumstances. Tons of research on smartphone addiction shows that despite people's awareness of the issue, they continue (or increase) their use. Children and young adults are facing it the most.
So maybe instead of artificially extending our phone's battery life to do all sorts of menial things for no reason other than it's just a thing that has become ingrained in us, we just use our phones a bit less and enjoy the extended battery life as a result. As an upside, you'll cut way back on all of these power-related accessories — not to mention the mental overhead and frustration of constantly being worried about the battery percentage on your phone. The latter, at a minimum, can have a positive effect on your life.
And with all of that deep thought out of the way, a few more quick hits:
- If you're on the fence about a Galaxy S9, you'll want to see my initial impressions of its cameras.
- The short version: this new sensor and lens combination is legit. Daylight photos are pretty great, and low light photos are incredibly sharp with low noise.
- The longer take on this whole new camera setup (and everything else about the phone) will have to wait for my review, which is coming soon!
- Coming back from MWC 2018 at the end of this week, I was surprised when i looked back and saw just how many good announcements came from the show. Despite being a "slow" year on account of Samsung's dominance of the news cycle, lots of great stuff — like the new Nokia announcements — made a splash.
- We're now in a tiny bit of a lull, but expect more stuff to happen as we get through March. Early leaks point to a possible release of the Android P Developer Preview, and multiple companies have phones to release before the midway point of 2018.
That's it for now — have a great week, everyone.