We need much better battery stats on Android

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
We need much better battery stats on Android
Apple iPhones were traditionally considered phones that will last for years while keeping their smooth performance nearly all throughout those years, but then something happened. In 2017, more and more users started complaining that their iPhones have become unbearably slow. There was no official explanation by the company and only months later, towards the end of the year, a user investigation revealed that Apple was secretly slowing down iPhones with older batteries to prevent them from shutting down when a more intense app tries to drain a lot of power. It was an unexpected discovery, but what is quite remarkable is not just the discovery, but the way Apple reacted to it.

The company apologized, explained everything it was doing to prevent those shutdowns from happening, explained why it was doing it and promised an update with super-detailed long-term battery stats that will keep users informed.

At the end of the day, a poor communication decision returned a benefit to the end user: the update that will soon come will give long-term battery health information that is genuinely valuable.

Unfortunately, there is one surprising loser in this whole situation and it is not Apple. It is actually Android.

Android has for years claimed a superiority in power user features: it had true multitasking years before Apple, then it had split-screen multitasking that the iPhone will probably never get, it also has themes and customization options, and widgets, and live wallpapers and what not.

One thing it does not have, however, are good long-term battery stats. The accent here is on long-term, naturally. Android has good short-term battery health data, but what about the status of that battery after 1 or 2 years, or even more?

We almost feel sorry there was no Android phone battery scandal because that would have brought change that does not seem to be happening right now.

What are those key long-term battery stats, you ask? Well, one in particular stands out as being the most important: battery cycle counts.

This critical piece of information gives you a very accurate estimate of the long-term health of a battery. Lithium-ion batteries that we use in our phones drop significantly in capacity after 500 cycles. Typically, 500 cycles amounts to about two years, but it depends on the actual usage and on the actual battery endurance of your particular device, so it can be a year, it could be three years and sometimes it could be more. The thing is that without access to this piece of data there is just no way to objectively diagnose your phone battery health on Android.

How to check iPhone battery cycle count

So while we’re not sure yet if battery cycles will be easily visible in the new iPhone battery stats screen, Apple has actually planned something that gives the consumer an even more useful piece of information: it will show the current battery health in percent and include a simple, easy-to-understand explanation of when your battery needs replacement. For example, it may show that the battery in your iPhone is currently at 90% of its health. At this point, this would mean that it’s still holding up quite good. And as the battery health starts going below that, the user can expect to start seeing the effects of their aging (or not well taken care of) battery, like reduced maximum capacity, or, as we now know to expect, slower performance at times. The battery screen will also tell the user if it’s time to replace their battery with a new one.

We don’t ask Android to directly copy that, but if you ask us for a wish about a feature that Android should support once that tasty new update arrives at the end of 2018, our wish is for better long-term battery stats.


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