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How important is battery life to you?

Do you get a full day’s use out of your prepaid Android smartphone? If you don’t have the benefit of being near an outlet for hours on end, it might be tough to use your phone to the fullest all day. Motorola recently hit on this reality in an advertisement for the Droid RAZR MAXX, which boasts a stronger battery than any current 4G LTE smartphone.

A number of factors contribute to a smartphone’s battery life. Faster and more powerful processors, of course, will drain battery more rapidly. That doesn’t bode well for the quad-core processor phones we’ll see this year. 4G LTE networks also drain battery faster than 3G networks (which drained battery faster than 2.5G networks, as iPhone 3G customers quickly learned). Software, too, can drain battery. Applications that frequently pull data from the network can drain battery significantly. A recent study shows that ads served from free apps can drain battery as well. There are just so many ways that you can lose battery life throughout the day.

Recent DC power trends have enabled us to charge our phones faster. That does help, in a way. If you do find a charger sometime during the day, a rapid charger can bring you back to full life relatively quickly. The problems arise when people simply have no access to an outlet. Currently the options are limited: extended battery or a spare battery. Both have their downsides. What we’ll need sooner, rather than later, is software and hardware that more efficiently consumes battery power.

Thankfully, there is hope. Plenty of companies are doing research involving lithium-ion batteries. This is mostly as they apply to electric cars, but the life-extending technology they develop could eventually cross over to cell phones. More powerful batteries, combined with hardware and software efficiency measures, could lead us to a cell phone battery that can handle high-powered hardware and software for an entire day.