Good battery life is unquestionably the biggest challenge the smartwatch market faces. Right now, smartwatches with a screen, such as the Apple Watch and Android Wear devices, consume the entirety of their battery’s charge within a few days. And sometimes, depending on usage, battery life can last less than 24-hours.
Several solutions have been presented to overcome this challenge. For instance, the Casio WSD-F20 has a battery-saving monochrome LCD layer on its screen. It isn’t just up to OEMs to improve battery life, however. It’s also up to the component suppliers. Qualcomm being a prime example. Qualcomm’s processors are used in practically all new Android Wear devices, and they consume plenty of energy.
A chip-based solution to better battery life sounds like a no-brainer. Energy-saving improvements can certainly be made. Thankfully, and obviously, Qualcomm are all-too aware of this fact with Pankaj Kedia, Senior Director of Product Management at Qualcomm, recently saying on the next-generation of chips: “The power will be lower. The size will be smaller. The sensors will be smarter. Connectivity will be more seamless. More options. And of course, they will deliver the security that you expect.”
When asked about power consumption specifically, Kedia answered, “You want to reduce power consumption? We are doing so at the chip level, at the platform level. So, using the chipset to intelligently turn off things you’re not using, right? There’s a lot of action there.” So, Qualcomm are doing all they can to reduce the power consumption of their processors. But, there is a problem out of Qualcomm’s control, and that is this: OEMs are increasingly looking to reduce the form of their devices. This product shrinking puts limitations on battery life potential, by restricting battery size and increasing heat.
Kedia noted as such, by adding: “Even as we advance our power efficiency, we’re going to be facing that battle continuously. We are all learning together; what is the right profile?”
The way forward for better battery life, then, is not to chase the right product profile, but to accommodate the necessary components for greater efficiency. Sadly, however, this is unlikely to happen, because design sells. For many people, battery life is an afterthought.