Better batteries

posted by Jeff | Monday, June 14, 2021, 9:46 PM | comments: 0

While I'm excited to see the great battery life I'm getting out of my new laptop, I'm conversely sad about what I'm getting out of my phone right now. I have a Pixel 4 that's about 20-months-old, and it's not doing great. There's a good chance that it has something to do with having it in my pocket for a half-hour in the hot tub of the VRBO we rented in January. That the phone survived at all seems like a small miracle. But there was also the disappointment of my three-year-old laptop that I replaced. It's weird, because the original iPhone from 2007 I could go without charging over a few days, though admittedly, this is from the days when we were still mostly using phones for, you know, calling people and texting.

I hate the idea of creating electronic waste, but most things that we've retired in recent years have gone back to be recycled by the manufacturer. Loose lithium-ion batteries are surprisingly hard to recycle, like camera batteries or AA's. Best Buy used to have a drop-off bin, but they stopped doing that.

Despite my recent battery drama, the truth is that batteries are getting way better, faster than I expected. While it's frustrating how few are user-replaceable in consumer devices, in most cases they're getting better. Heck, I've got 150 kWh of batteries in the garage right now, and it's remarkable how well they age. Our Model 3 has lost only a few miles of range in three years and 25k miles, and still charges impressively fast at superchargers when needed. I think the magic there is that the computer spends a lot of time conditioning the battery when it's plugged in, which is 75% of the time on days we're using it, but more like 95% on days when we're just running errands. When I think about that compared to the big dumb nickel-metal-hydride battery in my 2010 Prius (and I loved that car, before it was destroyed by a careless driver in Tennessee), that's a lot of progress in a decade. There has been so much refinement in lithium-ion batteries, much of it driven by the auto industry, specifically Tesla. Power density, durability, weight and charging speed have all improved.

As for my phone, the battery size was always a little small, but at this point, I need to make it work for another four or five months, until the next wave of phones hit. I'm kind of loyal to the Google at this point, because their flavor of Android is the cleanest (though Samsung is way better than they used to be) and their photo science is arguably the best for the money.


No comments yet.

Post your comment: