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Mobile’s Top 5 Battery Killers

Sarah Thomas
6/29/2010

Along with this summer’s parade of smartphone launches comes a host of new applications that take advantage of faster processors, high-definition video capabilities, and other advanced features. The apps fulfill the promise of an advanced smartphone, but they may also burn through the battery faster than a tween burns through texts.

The battery drain problem is nothing new, and it varies depending on which device you’re using. For example, early reviews suggest the iPhone 4's battery fares well, while Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S)’s data-driven Evo has been criticized for quickly losing steam.

Engadget's tests say that the iPhone 4 lasted an impressive 38 hours with a single charge. Meanwhile, reviews put the Evo around six hours of continuous talk time, but anything more requires shutting down open apps, turning off 4G, and dimming the phone’s brightness. (See Sprint's EVO Launch Creates Buzz & Mixed Crowds and Worldwide iPhone 4 Photos.)

Battery drain is such a significant problem that researchers are currently exploring how to make battery life last longer over WiFi, which burns it up faster than 3G and 4G usage.

Researchers at the University of Texas say that the more your phone can remain in sleep mode, the less power it will need. Unfortunately, most phones are always awake. The researchers are working on using WiFi routers to only send data to and from the phone when needed, helping smartphone users realize two to five times more battery life. They say this software fix is cheap and efficient, but it’s also not yet commercially available.

In the meantime, companies like mophie, Kensington, 3G Juice, and Tekkeon are offering accessories to extend battery life. Light Reading Mobile talked to mophie and Tekkeon about the top five mobile apps that make accessories like this necessary.

Here are the top five apps sure to drain your juice on WiFi, 3G, or 4G...

  • GolfTraxx: This app, a GPS tracking solution for use on the course, depletes the iPhone battery before a golfer can finish nine holes, says Ross Howe, VP of Marketing and New Business Development for mophie. Most GPS apps like this will drain the battery in one to two hours.
  • Skype: Skype Ltd. , or any WiFi-driven app, means the phone won't last more than a day.
  • Farmville: Gamers can blame the iPhone for never making it past just one or two levels. Howe says that games prevent the phone from using power-saving options because of auto brightness, and they often employ vibrations, causing the battery to rapidly deplete.
  • Qik: When data is constantly being streamed, the battery is constantly draining. Tekkeon president Jerry Yang says constant video will kill the battery in three to four hours.
  • Good ol' fashioned voice: Talking on the phone over the 3G network will drain the battery in five to seven hours, Yang says. That's faster than Web surfing on WiFi, video playing, and GPS navigation.
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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