Seen at SXSW: Mobile phone batteries suck


Smartphones have utterly captured SXSW, and while there are certainly tablets and laptops to be seen, the outlets are ruled by smartphones. Glide along the walls and eventually you’ll trip over a charging smartphone. I’ve seen a few smart folks using USB or plug-in extended batteries or swapping out batteries, but it’s clear that folks need their smartphones and that the batteries aren’t lasting long enough.

Maybe these folks are early adopters of LTE networks, which can be tough on the battery, but conference environments are hard on phones. There are the multiple app downloads (I’ve been approached by Loku and asked to download its apps in exchange for a free taco, and I know other tempting offers are out there) and people are trying to tweet and check email in order to meet up with people. That’s a long time for the screen to be on, and screens are the largest consumer of power in a smartphone.

Plus conferences are crowded and the more people in a space, the louder each phone has to shout to be heard on the network. And that shouting takes power. So the more people, the harder the radio has to work and the more power it consumes. So if you want your phone to last one full day on a single charge at a place like SXSW, your best bet to use the same rules as when you travel overseas and try to conserve data: Put it in airplane mode and turn it on every hour. But then you can’t run apps like Highlight.


RIchard Garrett

Are there any apps for iPhone that automatically do as you suggest (Put it in airplane mode and turn it on every hour.)


Turn off bluetooth, turn off wifi (esp if the signal is weak) and if needed, turn off 4G/3G also… 2G is often adequate for twitter/email.

Your phone may not be as “smart” anymore, but it will last and last.


LOL I stopped being an outlet squatter a long time ago. Now I just get amused when I see someone on the floor at an airport with their cable jammed into a wall. Don’t these “smart people” understand the benefits of a mobile battery pack? I carry one on my belt, it’s small, light, and can feed juice into my smartphone as I walk. I also use it to charge my mobile hotspot and have it double as an AC adapter for my netbook.

You’re not going to get around the laws of battery chemistry any time soon, so why not educate the dummies on how to GET AROUND the problem? Outlet squatters are in my mind not only an extreme eyesore, but tarnish a person’s professional image.

Starr Million Baker

Did you see the AT&T phone charging lockers? Pretty smart (and secure).

Noel Toolan

Wireless Charging! The next big thong..check out Powerkiss


it’s just out of the beta, and N TouchSoftware’s ASPIRE has some workable solutions for extended battery life on smart phones


I bet you have to look long and hard to find a BlackBerry user plugged into a power outlet. Seems to me at conferences, airports and such it is a fight between iphones and androids for power spots as BB users simply keep on working.


So, SXSW doesn’t have half of the mobile folks going there being sponsored by companies that do portable power packs?

Or, what about those mobile manufacturers whom actually make devices with batteries that do last a day in heavy usage (Nokia, RIM, and the Moto RAZR MAXX)? Where are these folks making their marketing push towards not just being “there” but being best usable in these high app/service/connectivity situations?

The bar is low when we simply ask for people to cut down their usage just to get thru the day. How about we request/urge manufacturers to actually step up their game towards those services and events lie this their mobiles and networks are supposed to enable?

Steven L

Alternate solution: carry a small messenger bag and stash an external battery in it, and hook up your phone to it.


Way that I see it the Motorola Droid Razr Maxx has got all other smartphones beat right now with its high capacity battery, I’m a die hard iPhone fan and am just over year two with my 3GS, if the new iPhone coming out later this year doesn’t offer up significantly better battery life then I’ll most likely take a very hard look at the Razr Maxx…

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