Is your smartphone battery draining your patience?

Excessive battery drain is the undisputed, number one complaint customers bring to their wireless operators and retailers.  Dissatisfaction with battery performance isn’t limited to older phones either.  In fact, many first-time smartphone owners and recent enlistees in the big screen phone revolution find themselves questioning whether they just spent a large amount of money on defective hardware.

According to a 2015 Ovum study, 39 per cent of consumers globally experienced battery performance problems. What’s notably absent from these facts is whether or not the battery was the true source of the problem. More often than not, it isn’t.

Ovum diagram

Replacing the battery is the most common resolution to which mobile retailers and consumers turn when addressing chronic battery complaints, yet it is far from the most efficient or cost-effective answer to this near-universal problem.

A $650 million problem

Based on our recent customer performance data, 80 percent of all batteries that were removed and replaced by retailers were later found to be in good health.  Furthermore, the estimated cost implication for retailers in these cases is hard to ignore: by our research and estimates, this equates to well over $650 million in unnecessary annual costs to resolve battery problems in the U.S. alone.

Moreover, blind battery replacements can be especially frustrating for the smartphone owner if the same performance issues recur with the new battery.   Troubleshooting “battery drain” specifically is challenging for both consumers and operators because there are myriad potential causes. Most commonly, however, the source of the problem lies in one of two areas: usage behavior and installed software.

A new user’s lack of familiarity with a device may result in settings that lead to fast battery drain or unrealistic performance expectations – that marathon session of the latest graphics-intensive MMO game definitely consumes a lot more battery life than texting!  The impact an app has on battery life may not be so obvious in other cases. Poor software design, instability, or the use of services like GPS location can also draw on the battery heavily.  With literally thousands of new apps hitting the market daily, manual troubleshooting of every possible user-induced and software-related cause is difficult and time-consuming.

So, what can you do to show your customers it’s not always a bad battery?”

Recently introduced to the market, a patent-pending battery testing method provides lab-quality battery health checks in under two minutes, without needing to remove the battery from the phone. Adoption of these battery tests by a wireless operator or retailer could bring the service into stores or integrate it into the service provider’s branded app.

As we rely on our phones more and more in our daily lives, advances in smartphones will continue to complicate issues surrounding battery life. More sophisticated applications, larger and higher definition device screens, and faster, more advanced processors all increase demand on the battery. When equipped with similarly advanced diagnostics capabilities, wireless operators, retailers and consumers can meet these challenges because while there’s a battery of issues that can keep a smartphone owner tethered to a charging cable, the issue isn’t always the battery!

Our blog this week is based on a recent Cellebrite article, Solving Mobile Device Battery Problems. To read more, check out Telecoms.com,  Information Age, Mobile News print edition, or download the Ovum Report.