Posts Tagged ‘Battery’

Nokia N9 battery life

February 20, 2012

One of the things I complained a lot about my previous smartphone was the really poor battery life I got to live with after the latest firmware update. Battery life is one of those things a lot of people overlook when choosing their next phone and only notice (the lack of) it when they use it and realize how bad it is.

Initially I was afraid the N9 wasn’t going to be remarkable in this aspect: some reviews actually praised it while others weren’t much impressed about it.

After almost a month I’ve made my mind about the N9 battery life: It’s awesome when the device is idle and the data connection is turned off, it’s average when idling with the background 3G data connection turned on and could be better while using the device in a more intensive fashion:

  • When the device is idle with no data connection, the average battery consumption is around 6mA which is great and allows the phone to stay in standby for several days (probably more than a week!).
  • When you have push notifications and other apps actively using the data connection the phone will at least use twice the energy, so it will use frequently around 16~18mA. This means the phone won’t be able to last more than a couple of days.
  • If you are always playing with the phone you can only expect it to last till the end of the day
There’s an app called “Battery Usage” that I really recommend because it allows the user to check where the phone power is being used. Below you can see how long my N9 can last on one charge, if you use it moderately.
Overall I’m happy with the N9’s battery life, although there is two things I believe Nokia should look into and try to fix in future MeeGo Harmattan firmware updates:
  • When it’s really cold outside, the phone will suddenly drop the indicated battery level (as much as 30%), but after you come into warmer places the battery level will rise again by itself and recover the original displayed battery level. This means the phone is probably not measuring correctly the battery level when used in low temperature environments.
  • If you use the phone in a more intensive way, such as playing a game, the battery level will also decrease significantly to recover again when you stop using the phone for a while, therefore the battery level measuring system does not seem very reliable to me.
Since the problem is being too conservative (and not too optimistic) I can live with it until Nokia fixes that.
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Seven things I really like about the Nokia N9

February 1, 2012

Now that I’ve spent a couple of weeks with my brand new Nokia N9, I thought about sharing some of the things that I was surprised and even delighted to find out about it:

The camera records the video sound in stereo

It might seem a minor thing to brag about but believe me: when you hear the sound this N9 is able to record, you will notice the difference compared to the mono sound recorded by competitors like the iPhone (that also has two microphones for noise cancellation but does not make any use of them when recording video!)

I can buy apps at the Nokia Store and pay for them with carrier billing

Nokia Store is currently the only one offering carrier billing in my country. This is huge because a lot of people here have prepaid plans that, when you charge your phone with money often enough, offer unlimited free calls and messages within the same network, so a lot of people end up with a lot of money in their phones that aren’t able to spend because the communications are free.¬†Now I can just spend it on paid apps instead of accumulate it in the phone prepaid balance!

It supports 5GHz WiFi networks

I’ve tried a lot of mobile devices and until now none, not even Apple’s iPhone 4S, was able to detect my Airport Extreme 5GHz 802.11n WiFi network. The Nokia N9 detects and connects to my network flawlessly.

The alarm works even if the phone is turned off

A lot of people like to shutdown their phones at night. Unfortunately, with iOS, Android and Windows Phone devices you can’t turn them off at night if you want to wake up in the next morning, otherwise those devices alarm will not work. The Nokia N9 alarm will work every time, even if you turn off the phone, it will power on in the morning and ring the alarm bell, which is a great feature that previous Nokia phones with Symbian and even Blackberry devices always had.

You can also connect the phone to the power outlet and charge it while turned off. Most competitors can only do this while running the OS, so when you connect the phone to the wall the phone will boot the OS and start charging the battery. The N9 will charge without needing to boot the Harmattan OS.

The performance is better than you might think

I wasn’t expecting much from the TI OMAP3 1GHz processor that the N9 carries inside. But Nokia has proved me wrong and was able to optimize the MeeGo Harmattan OS well enough to provide a smooth user experience despite the single core SoC.

Battery life

I’ve read a lot about the N9 battery life: some say there are some bugs that cause the MeeGo Harmattan OS to drain the battery too fast. Others, like Engadget, considered it good enough to put it in the “Pros” list. My experience is that, at least on standby, the battery life is impressive. With active usage is, at least, on par with the other smartphones it competes with. Overall, the battery life is much better than the one I had with the Galaxy S (but there was a nasty battery drain bug responsible for the lousy Samsung’s battery life)

The rubber case

I never spend money buying a case for my smartphone. After a year or so I usually regret that decision because with the usage my smartphones eventually have some damages that show the hard life I put them through. The Nokia N9 comes with a rubber case included, I’ve put it and might say that’s a pretty good one: does not increase noticeably the overall size of the phone, it looks pretty much as part of the phone itself and protects the phone from any accidental damage… for free!

Thoughts on Android 2.3.5 for the Galaxy S

November 24, 2011

As I mentioned before, I’ve been using for some time now the Android 2.3.5 update for the Samsung Galaxy S and it deserves some comments.

Good news first:

– The previously reported Android OS battery drain bug is apparently gone! This just means the phone does not drain the battery all by itself in a dozen hours or so, which was a huge problem. The Android OS process is now at a more reasonable 6% share of the overall battery consumption.

– The browser scroll now works properly as in any other smartphone in the market

Unfortunately, there’s a few problems with this firmware:

– As I said in the previous blog post, the TouchWiz launcher crashes randomly.

– The phone process is also crashing a lot, especially soon after the end of a phone call, as you can see in the picture below.

– The browser may now present a correct scroll behavior but the stability is worst than before, which is not good because the browser was never the most stable app in Android.

It wouldn’t be so bad if it did compensate the lack of stability with improved performance, but running the SunSpider javascript benchmark returned a result of 6505.1 ms which is a regression compared against the 6305.4 ms scored by Android 2.3.3.

Apparently stock browser javascript performance optimization is not a priority for Samsung, neither is improving the stability of the official firmwares they release for the Galaxy S.

Android OS battery drain bug

September 3, 2011

About a month ago, several Vodafone customers across Europe got the Gingerbread version of Android on the Samsung i9000 Galaxy S.

It took a while to get this update because the Android update process works like this:

– Google releases a new Android version and make it available to the manufacturers

– Manufacturers like Samsung take their time to adapt the OS to their specific model and send it to the carriers

РCarriers like Vodafone take their time to add some of their own customizations and test it thoroughly before allowing it to be available to the customers

One might think that with all those eyes at different companies looking and testing the firmware, the final release would be solid as a rock and pretty much bug free.

The Galaxy S was last year’s Samsung flagship smartphone and sold millions of units all over the world, the manufacturer claims the phone can remain in standby mode for up to 750 hours in a 2G network and up to 625 hours in 3G networks. Of course nobody expects it to actually be even close to those very optimistic numbers but with the latest Gingerbread update I got a feeling things got worst.

During the holidays I decided to see what was happening: I took the phone off the charger in the middle of the morning and didn’t use it at all during the day, except for a very short phone call (less than 1 minute) and to take some screenshots of the battery usage menu to see how things were going:

As you can see in the first screenshot, even though WiFi, GPS and Mobile Data are all disabled, in just 3 hours and a half there is a significant drop in the battery apparently caused by the Android OS process.

One hour later the Android OS process is still the most significant battery consuming process, though there is this weird process called “orientationd” I suspect might also be related to the battery drain.

As you can see above I received a short phone call, and the corresponding entry appears as responsible for 1% of the total power consumption.

9 hours and 18 minutes have passed and although the percentage is decreasing, the Android OS process is still the main reason of this excessive power consumption. By this time there is less than half of the battery capacity remaining.

Finally, after 15 hours and a half the battery is dead and the phone eventually shutdown by itself.

If I was using the phone in a normal workday, sending and receiving text messages, making phone calls, using the WiFi or playing some game, the battery wouldn’t last for half of the day, which is really bad if you consider the supposed 750 hours of standby Samsung announces.

I searched around for this bug and saw this Android OS battery drain bug reported in several internet forums. Apparently it exists at least in the 2.3.3 version of Android for the Galaxy S, though there are some similar problems reported in other Android phone models and manufacturers but I can only assure the existence of the bug in the Vodafone branded Galaxy S with 2.3.3 firmware.

I’m amazed how neither Samsung nor Vodafone noticed this bug in their extensive tests and despite taking a lot of time before releasing the updates they are still released with some serious problems like this!

I’m also surprised how the media didn’t notice a serious bug like this but sometimes report on other minor problems affecting other phones or gadgets.