Battery comsumption and mobile apps

Often you hear people say, although more rarely than before, they don’t want cameras, GPS, downloadable applications or games, or basically any other features than just phone calls, text mesages (SMS) and maybe an alarm clock. However, many have used smartphones for years knowing they are good at many other things too, and it’s often very handy to have many features in one device.

Battery Monitor gives very interesting statistics of battery comsumption.

Battery Monitor gives very interesting statistics of battery comsumption.

Thus it’s nice to get some real numbers and statistics to support personal impressions. I have got this with Nokia Battery Monitor, available for Symbian phones at Ovi Store. I’ve heard there are similar apps for Android and iOS too, but as I haven’t tried them yet, I can’t recommend them. Comments and tips about those are most welcome.

Battery Monitor presents statistics of how the power comsumption has divided in percentages between phone calls, SMS mssages, GPS positioning, camera etc. I have used this for a few months now and noticed phone calls only represent an average of 20 or 30 percentage of my battery comsumption. The second largest user of battery is the web browser, and after that usually comes the home screen. The last one has many dynamic widgets that frequently use 3G and WLAN access.

The Battery Monitor also has a nice widget displaying an estimate of remaining time for the battery in idle mode. Clicking it you get a more exact estimate of remaining battery time for phone calls, web browsing etc.

The latest version 2.0 of Battery Monitor even gives an estimate of battery use by each individual application. My screenshots are from the version 1.2, because the new release didn’t install properly on my Nokia N8, even though I uninstalled the old first as adviced in the instructions.

Of course, these battery use estimates are just my personal use and maybe can’t be generalized to other people at all. There are however, research results that support my own findings; also other people are using more and more apps. Of course, you can see it from the download numbers of different app stores too, they don’t necessarily mean people actually use those apps a lot.

A Finnish mobile research company Zokem has got very interesting user panels, where they measure Android, iOS and Symbian users with a client running in the background to find out what people actually do with their smartphones. Zokem, based in Espoo, Finland, was acquired by the U.S. based Arbitron in July, so they have now become Arbitron Mobile.

Zokem has calculated add-on apps (such as Angry Birds, Facebook, Pandora, YouTube etc) make up to 20 percent of “face time” (meaning active use of the device) of smartphones, and about 30 percent of data traffic. People are using more apps, but Zokem does not predict apps would totally replace web browsing.

Zokem believes people want to use the browser to access for example commerce, news, search and adult content (porn), and apps are preferred when using e-mail, games, maps, multimedia and social media. Although, as far as I know, the mobile site of Facebook (m.facebook.com) is very popular in addition to those separate clients.

However, smartphone platforms are not equal according to Zokem. Here’s a cut from their fresh press background material:

iPhone and Android users use an average of 15 different apps per month, whereas Blackberry and Symbian users use only about 8 different add-on apps per month. iOS and Android are clearly driving new user behaviors, and consequently the potential of mobile advertising.

iTunes and Android Market Place reach monthly a user penetration of ~95% among their respective user base, whereas Blackberry App World reaches 50% of Blackberry users, and Nokia Ovi Store only 26% of Symbian users. An average smartphone user adds 2,5 apps/month.”

These are interesting numbers to operators who want to sell devices that drive more data traffic revenues. For example, the Nordic operator TeliaSonera reported in February (2011) iPhone 4 users generated an average of over 480 MB traffic per month, whereas Nokia N8 users only generated an average of over 190 MB of traffic per month.

Which customers bring more revenues depends on what kind of data plans they usually have. As far as I know, flat rate deals are very common, but TeliaSonera tries to move more and more to charging by the amount data traffic.