The Fast Charging Madness: Are We Neglecting Battery Life?

The appeal of fast charging

The last decade has seen a meteoric rise in fast charging capabilities. We fondly remember OnePlus’ revolutionary Dash Charge introduced with the OnePlus 3T, offering a seemingly incredible 60% charge in just 30 minutes. Back then, a full charge in less than an hour felt like a game changer, leaving the competition trailing in the dust.

Fast forward to today and the industry is engaged in a relentless race, rapidly escalating from 30W to 60W, 80W, 120W and now the mind-boggling 240W. This breakneck pace has not even allowed for the standardization of 30W technology, leaving consumers with a confusing array of proprietary charging protocols from different brands.

The silver lining of this race is the democratization of fast charging. Previously a high-end perk, fast charging is now filtering down to even budget smartphones. Mid-range devices now typically boast at least 33W charging, with many pushing the limits to 60W and 70W.

The mAh myth: Capacity does not equal autonomy

Measuring phone battery life is a complex task. Screen time is a key metric, but it is heavily influenced by factors such as usage patterns, display brightness, and network connectivity. Standardized tests that measure talk time, web browsing time and video playback time provide a more objective comparison.

Looking back at 2016, a pivotal year in smartphone history, we see flagships such as the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, Google Pixel 1 and iPhone 7 Plus boasting impressive figures exceeding 30 hours of talk time (based on from GSMArena). Shockingly, many modern smartphones like the Google Pixel 6, Galaxy S21 FE and S24 struggle to reach or barely beat these numbers.

Screen time paints a similar troubling picture. Most phones, regardless of price range, seem stuck in a 6-7 hour window for very heavy use. That means a struggle to last a full day without needing a recharge, let alone two.

Real-world experience reflects these concerns. The Google Pixel 2 XL with a 3520 mAh battery offers approximately 6 hours of screen-on time, on par with the Pixel 6 with its larger 4600 mAh battery. Likewise, the S7 Edge’s 5-6 hours of screen time finds its echo in the 2022 S22 Ultra. Flagships seem stagnant in this regard, while the mid-range, while potentially offering longer screen-on time, rarely breaks the 10-hour barrier or two-day use.

Even with more powerful hardware promising increased performance, the reality is that heavy users using features like 4K recording, mobile data, demanding games and high brightness can easily drain the battery before the end of the day. While advances in lithography and component manufacturing undoubtedly aim to improve energy efficiency, the focus seems to be on raw power rather than extended battery life.

Fast Charging vs. Lasting Power: Wrong Choice?

This situation opens up a critical debate. Do we prioritize the convenience of fast charging, which allows fast charging throughout the day, or do we prioritize longer battery life with fewer charge cycles over a longer period? Both options have advantages and disadvantages:

  • Fast charging:
    • Professionals: Convenience, ideal for busy schedules, reduces reliance on electrical outlets for extended periods.
    • Cons: Can potentially degrade battery health over time, may require specific chargers and cables, not always a solution for heavy users who drain the battery quickly.
  • Long battery life:
    • Professionals: Less reliance on charging, potentially extending battery life, reduces anxiety associated with low battery levels.
    • Cons: It may not be ideal for users who often forget to charge, it may mean sacrificing some level of convenience.

After all, the ideal scenario would be a phone that offers both fast charging capabilities and superior battery life. While progress is being made, the current focus seems heavily skewed toward the former.

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The way forward: a more balanced approach

The relentless pursuit of faster and faster charging raises concerns about neglecting battery life as a primary consideration. Consumers deserve a choice between fast charging for convenience and extended battery life for peace of mind. Here’s what we can hope for:

  • Breakthrough in battery technology: Advances in battery technology such as solid state batteries hold enormous promise. These batteries offer significantly higher energy density, potentially leading to longer battery life or smaller phones with equivalent capacity.

  • Software optimization: Manufacturers can use software optimizations to improve battery management. Techniques such as adaptive refresh rates and background app limits can significantly reduce power consumption without compromising the user experience.

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  • Standardization of fast charging: The current fragmented landscape of proprietary billing protocols creates confusion and inconvenience. Universal standards such as USB Power Delivery (USB-PD) must be widely adopted to ensure compatibility between brands and devices.

  • Transparency and Education: Manufacturers need to be more transparent about battery capacity, charging speeds, and how these factors affect overall battery life. Additionally, educating users on best battery charging and maintenance practices can significantly improve battery life.

A future where convenience and longevity coexist

With a more balanced approach, the future promises smartphones that offer both the convenience of fast charging and the peace of mind of long battery life. By focusing on technological advancements, software optimization, and industry-wide collaboration, we can move toward a future where consumers are no longer forced to choose between a quick charge or a long day on a single charge.

Beyond smartphones: a broader impact

The quest for improved battery technology extends beyond smartphones. This has significant implications for the development of other portable electronics such as laptops, tablets and wearables. Longer-lasting batteries will not only improve the user experience, but also contribute to a more sustainable future by reducing reliance on single-use batteries and e-waste.

A call for balance

While the rapid development of fast charging technology is impressive, focusing solely on speed risks overlooking the importance of battery life. By encouraging innovation in battery technology, optimizing software and promoting industry standards, we can achieve a future where convenience and durability coexist. This not only benefits consumers, but also contributes to a more sustainable future for our planet. The time has come to strike a balance between the allure of speed and the fundamental need for sustained power.

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Optimizing your smartphone for battery life

While we wait for the future of battery technology, here are some tips and tricks you can use right now to maximize your phone’s battery life:

Display settings:

  • Decrease brightness: The display drains a lot of battery. Lowering the brightness level, even slightly, can significantly improve battery life. Use auto-brightness features whenever possible, which adjust brightness based on ambient light.
  • Minimize screen timeout: Reduce the time it takes for your screen to turn off after inactivity. This prevents unnecessary battery drain when your phone is idle.


  • Manage location services: a lot applications rely on location services, but they can drain your battery. Only enable location services for apps that really require them.
  • Turn off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi when not in use: These features are handy, but keep them disabled when you don’t need them (eg Bluetooth for headphones or Wi-Fi when using mobile data).
  • Airplane emergency mode: For situations where conserving battery life is paramount (eg a long flight), enable airplane mode. This disables all wireless features.

Apps and background activity:

  • Identify the battery hogs: Most smartphones offer battery usage statistics in the settings. Use them to identify apps that are consuming too much battery and consider uninstalling or limiting their background activity.
  • Background App Refresh: Limit or disable background app refresh for apps you don’t use often. This prevents them from constantly refreshing content in the background, draining the battery.
  • Push Notifications: Receiving notifications for a long time can drain the battery. Consider disabling notifications for non-essential apps.

Charging habits:

  • Avoid extreme temperatures: Extreme heat or cold can damage batteries and shorten their life. Avoid charging your phone in direct sunlight or very cold environments.
  • Optimal charge levels: Although convenient, constantly charging your phone from low percentages can put a strain on the battery. Ideally, aim to keep the charge between 20% and 80%.
  • Charging at night: If you’re constantly charging your phone at night, consider using optimized charging features offered by some manufacturers. These features can intelligently regulate charging to avoid the battery always staying at 100%.

Additional tips:

  • Live Wallpapers: Choose static wallpapers instead of live wallpapers that consume more battery due to constant animations.
  • Data Saver Mode: Use the data saving modes offered by some manufacturers or network providers. These features can reduce background data usage, improving battery life.
  • Original chargers: Use an original charger or one certified by a reputable brand. Low-quality chargers can damage the battery and shorten its life.

By implementing these suggestions, you can significantly extend the battery life of your smartphone and avoid the worry of a dead battery throughout the day. Remember, a balanced approach is key. While fast charging offers convenience, prioritize battery health by following these tips to maximize your phone’s life and overall user experience.

Are We Sacrificing Battery Life for Fast Charging?