How Battery Life Influenced My Latest Smart Phone Purchase

This is a bit off the beaten path from my normal blog post topics: smart phone purchasing decisions. Do I plan to start covering consumer electronics in any meaningful way? No. But in this case, it ties nicely into the realm of technical conferences, a hobby of mine.

About five years ago I dropped the Blackberry franchise and traded in my Curve for an Android phone. I decided on the Motorola Droid. It had a slide out keyboard and an operating system that allowed me to do all sorts of wild things like play music, install neat applications, and browse the web on an enormous screen.

One of the biggest disappointments was the battery life. I used to enjoy about a week of life from my Curve, and the Droid could only squeak out a day or two depending on my usage. I used various watchdog applications to shut off background applications and guard my precious go juice, but charging the phone became a nightly ritual.


There are all sorts of gadgets for the phone to help provide juice on the go – from protectors with a built in charger to little snap-on adapters that allow for quick charges. I never liked either of these approaches. They bulk up the phone, and I never bother with a phone protector. My Droid was rugged enough to ignore the occasional drop.

Migration to the Droid RAZR

After a good two years with the Droid, I moved onto the Droid RAZR. The main attraction was all the new gizmos and features, like a larger HD screen, internal chip speed, and the slim form factor. It also touted a carbon-fiber weave on the skin, again playing to my desire to natively protect the phone without having to bulk it up with a sleeve or skin.


This also fits in nicely with the time period that I started becoming very active in technical conferences. And while the phone could easily handle a day or two of normal usage, my phone would wilt and die before even one day of a tech conference. Especially with all the tweeting, photo taking, and on-the-go emailing I’d have to juggle to stay current.

This is when I realized that I don’t really care about many things that are included with a smart phone. I don’t care about the processor speed, the amount of RAM, having the biggest or highest definition screen size, or really anything beyond running my few needed Android apps. I just want battery life. That’s it.

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For those curious, my critical apps are: Twitter (Plume), Gmail, Kindle, Pandora, Google Talk. I run lean and mean!

Adopting the Droid MAXX

I was working in a data center in downtown Chicago when my Droid RAZR was near death in the late afternoon. The signal inside of a data center is terrible, and so it would constantly switch between 3G, 4G, and the customer’s WiFi network. I realized it was both time to rectify my aging battery and also look into alternatives.

I ended up scoping out the Droid MAXX, which features a 3500 mAh lithium-Ion battery that is more than double the 1780 mAh battery in my RAZR. It also has a very nice carbon-fiber body construction, again negating any need for a sleeve or skin, and a solid camera. Neat!


The phone is physically fine to hold, there is no bulkiness associated with it for having such a beefy battery. It weights about 5 oz.

It also has a ton of other features that I could really care less about, including the ability to transmit photos via NFC “bumps” and a ridiculous screen resolution. Maybe others care about keeping up with speeds and feeds on smart phones, but I really do not.

Real World Usage

I’ve had the phone for several months. When I first purchased it, I went through a training process on the battery and made sure to let it drain to about 10% battery (or less), powered it off, and charged it to full. Is this necessary or a bunch of silly mojo? I have no idea, but why tempt fate?

Average Work Day

I spend a lot of time on my screen reading books via Kindle. I chew through a book about every 3 ~ 5 days, so I tend to also eat up a lot of battery power. I set the Kindle to use a black background to limit the screen power consumption, but it still consumes a lot of battery. Here is a screenshot of the phone after 2 days of normal use at work.


It shows about 53 hours of usage. The screen used most of that juice, with the screen being on just shy of 8 hours. I tend to be around WiFi a lot (the blue horizontal line).

Attending a Conference

Here’s a rough idea of the battery usage at a conference. I was on WiFi the entire time (as you might imagine). I charged the phone up the night prior, then used it all day at the Chicago VMUG Conference and looked at the battery usage that night. It lasted the entire conference without batting an eyelash (if phones had eyelashes).



I’m very happy with the Droid MAXX. It has some very serious battery life that is able to tackle multiple days of use. I charge it about every 2nd or 3rd day, and a full charge takes just over an hour.

If you’re into other phones – like Apple stuff – then please do continue to enjoy your phone. I could care less if you like iOS or Blackberry or Windows Mobile – if the phone does what you want it to do and makes you happy, you have the right phone. For those in the Android world looking to break free of being a slave to constant charging, give the MAXX a glance.