Saturday, July 24, 2010

webOS Battery Performance

I've been a fan of Palm's PDAs and smartphones for some 11 years now. I have a love/hate relationship with my Sprint edition Palm Pre. webOS is an amazing little OS that works well. The one feature that I love the most is Synergy. The ability for webOS to sync all of my cloud (aka Internet) accounts and present that information in a single unified spot is niffy indeed.

But I hate the battery performance of my phone. I can barely get 24 hours on a single charge with minimal calls and surfing. I have my Pre with me all the time, but I use is sparingly to make sure that I can make it through my day on a full charge. Conversely, my Verizon BlackBerry Storm2, which gets used about the same as my Pre, can easily go 2.5 days without me having to worry about recharging the device.

On the Pre, I keep features that I don't need that drain the battery turned off. This includes the GPS and Wi-Fi radios. I even keep the screen brightness down around 25-30%.

Earlier this week, I read an interesting data point on PreCentral that reads:
"Turn Wi-Fi on and leave it on. Seriously. Unless you’re someplace where there’s positively not a Wi-Fi network to which you can connect, leave Wi-Fi on. The Wi-Fi radio in all webOS phones (with the exception of the Wi-Fi-less Sprint Pixi) is notably more power efficient than the cellular radio, so whenever possible use Wi-Fi instead. Plus, if you’re on a metered data plan, you can save your bytes for later."
That statement runs counter to what I've always practiced with my Treo smartphones. For more than a year, I've left Wi-Fi off on my Pre, and only configured one of many email and social media account to sync at an interval of less than 1 hour. There is something to consider about the PreCentral article and that is that if you have apps that poll the Internet for information, the Wi-Fi radio really might be more efficient than the cellular radio.

I want to test this notion out, so all this week, I'm going to leave Bluetooth on as I always do (for handsfree driving), and turning Wi-Fi on. I also have GPS enabled so that when I take a photo, it is "geotagged" for use in iPhoto. (That is a really cool feature, if you have iPhoto '09 and a GPS enabled smartphone or camera.)

I'll post my results over the coming days. If I find that the battery life is good, then I may start turning on more frequent email and social media updates so I can get information more timely.
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