I happened to meet a friend at a tech conference a few weeks ago. We both reached the venue at 8AM with our phones charged nearly full. Our usage, although not scientifically accurate, was roughly about the same — we both clicked pictures at the event, kept checking our Twitter timeline, made a phone call or two, until we finally sat down in the auditorium. It was then that I casually looked into his iPhone 6s Plus; it showed 85 percent charge left. My Samsung Galaxy S6 was disappointingly at 55 percent. And it was just 10AM, with the whole day to go. Of course, those are phones running different operating systems. I may even have more battery-hogging apps than him. My screen has far too many pixels than his and there are other differences in hardware. Also, we were on different mobile networks. Clearly, this was not an Apples to Apples comparison.
But it got me thinking — the reason why I bought the Galaxy S6 over bigger-sized phones back then was the comfortable form factor, thanks to the “reasonably-sized” 5 inch screen. And now I feel I’ve made a mistake.
I’ve been wary of phones growing bigger than the average human hand. But there’s no point in resisting this anymore. What’s the point of all that powerful hardware and features if the battery cannot keep the damn phone running for an entire day?! This ‘low battery anxiety’ is something I always deal with, when I’m out for the day away from a power outlet. Sure, the ultra power-saving mode came in handy that day when the phone finally hit 15 percent at 3PM; I could reach home before the battery died. I could have used a powerbank, but it is easy to forget keeping it charged beforehand, especially if you don’t use it regularly. Also, it feels painfully slow if you’re used to the fast charging feature on newer phones like mine. Lastly, carrying the phone + powerbank combo isn’t convenient.
You may say I am a power user, but when I look around, aren’t we all becoming that slowly? Many of us book our cabs on an app, which is a massively battery-draining experience. We order food and groceries, look up directories, stream music and videos, take pictures, read, work, communicate, entertain. There’s a (battery-draining) app for everything these days, with more and more startups trying to grab your attention to increase their app usage metrics. Those activities I listed hardly categorise me as a ‘power user’ today.
Clearly I’m late to the party, but I’ll come in now. Phone manufacturers have given up on the concept anyway. Motorola, who made probably the best comfortably-sized phone (the first Moto X) is now making a Moto X with a 5.7-inch screen. Apple’s iPhone 5se seems more like an afterthought and created solely to keep the entry-level iPhone lineup relevant in 2016. Sony is the only company that gave two hoots about small-sized phones. But it seems like not many are giving any hoots about that, as their Xperia Z5 Compact is still due for launch in India.
So the next time I have an option between a high-end smartphone and the same thing in ‘Plus’ size, there’s going to be no contest in my choice. If all things remain equal, the bigger phone most certainly will have a bigger battery that will help me get through the day and put an end to the ‘low battery anxiety’. Fun thing is, other than easy one-handed operation, I originally preferred small-sized phones because they were easier to hold to the ear while talking, but I guess we’re doing less and less of that. So that isn’t much of a problem now, is it?
This opinion piece was written by Rohan Naravane, who manages the Product & Content for Pricebaba.