THE BLOG

Here's Why the iPhone 5S Battery Life Is Going to Be Terrible.. and Why It's Our Fault

13/09/2013 16:53 BST | Updated 13/11/2013 10:12 GMT

If you followed the iPhone 5S announcement the other night, then surely you were impressed by Apple's brand new 64-bit A7 chip. After all, it is 40 times faster than the original iPhone. Apple even wheeled out a developer to show off his new whizz-bang game that takes advantage of the new chip.

"Great!", I thought, "I can't wait to play this for the 30 minutes until the battery dies".

Every year we see great leaps forward in Smartphone technology, yet stubbornly battery life seems to be getting actively worse. It wasn't like it back in my day - a simpler time when me and my family used to gather around the wireless to hear the BBC report the latest on The War, and then after hearing about the latest in Fallujah (it was 2003), we'd see that the Nokia 3210 that hadn't been charged for days still had nearly full battery.

So why are batteries still terrible? Why is everything else getting better, yet if my iPhone has been unplugged for a few hours, I start getting nervous about the battery running out? Is there a limit to how good a battery can get? Can we not improve them any further?

This is what I asked Dr Dave Cohen, a computer scientist at the Royal Holloway University when I interviewed him a few months ago. It turns out that, contrary to every expectation, "batteries are getting better" too.

Seriously. The trouble is that when batteries get better, device manufacturers realise that this means that our phones can do more complex and energy consuming things, such as flashier graphics and augmented reality. In other words, better batteries have made it possible to make the devices that used to make just phone calls into high powered computers - so really, we should be thanking batteries, rather than castigating them into the fire (which would be dangerous anyway).

But this doesn't solve the problem of modern phones having a terrible battery life. Sure, Apple have claimed the 5S will last 250 hours - but only if you leave your phone on airplane mode and use it for nothing more than a paperweight. So what can be done? Is it just a case of us consumers saying "No, it's fine, our apps and whizzy graphics are good enough - that power is much better spent on having a longer battery life"?

Yes... except... the new iPhone has better graphics... and finger print recognition... and comes in gold. I want that one instead.

We only have ourselves to blame.