Smartphones are now more complex and feature-packed than ever. They play a huge role in the wider consumer tech sector, but the devices still suffer from one disadvantage that becomes particularly prominent when in the hands of the most committed users.
Battery life - while getting better all the time - is still a hugely limiting to factor when it comes to getting the best out of everything from high-definition video to the latest and greatest mobile games.
In efforts to understand exactly what the substantial power-sappers are, online security company AVG has collected anonymous data from more than 600,000 Android app users.
Worldwide, the biggest energy consuming activities of the last quarter of 2014 threw up some surprising results, with four areas in particular proving to be particularly detrimental to battery life:
- Mobile gaming. Often used to while away a few moments of the daily commute, or even just to kick back and relax, gaming on smartphones will quickly drain battery life.
- Online shopping. As the AVG report accounts for the Christmas period, it is little wonder that users who spent hours on the official Amazon Android app find themselves reaching for the charger more often.
- TV and film. The growing popularity of Netflix and its app have made it easy to watch television series and films at home or even on the go. However, expect to see red when it comes to battery life.
- Background apps. Apps that carry out their processes while the user does something else are big power-sappers. The report from AVG highlights Samsung's Security Policies as particularly culpable.
In terms of worldwide usage, the top three apps are ones that the vast majority of all smartphone users will have somewhere on their device. Facebook, Spotify and Instagram dominate the global download charts.
So, while that's all well and good, how can the average user go about keeping their device's battery in peak condition? Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Limit notifications.
- Cut down on apps that run in the background and use offline storage.
- Reduce the display brightness.
- Turn off Bluetooth and GPS when not in use.
- Limit the clutter on the apps you do use regularly.
Charging a smartphone once every night is likely to satisfy the needs of casual users, but sometimes it just isn't enough. As devices become more capable in terms of processing power and multi-tasking capabilities, even those smartphones with the most complex power cells will need a helping hand to stay switched on.