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Why the 2015 Nexus will have better battery life

© nextpit

With the countdown already in the back of our minds for the new Nexus, whether it's the Nexus 5 (2015), Nexus 6 (2015) or Nexus 5.5, we've realized that this year the battery life issue that has plagued Nexus devices since time immemorial will finally be solved. Here's why.

The Nexus line battery life has always been a problem. © ANDROIDPIT

As you all know, the Nexus line ever since the Nexus 4 has been about high-end specs in a low-cost body. That was, at least, until the Nexus 6 broke the price and pocket barrier late last year.

But pushing pixels around that giant screen takes its toll on the battery, even when it's as large as 3,220 mAh. If the next Nexus shrinks a little and returns to more ''normal'' dimensions – as we think it will – we can expect some truly outstanding battery life. This will be due to three big causes.

nexus 6 verschenken 01
The Nexus 6 is huge. It has a huge battery. But battery life still isn't great. © ANDROIDPIT

The Snapdragon 815 and 820

The Nexus whatever-it-will-be-called should appear in late October or early November this year. That puts it in a perfect position to ship with either the Snapdragon 815 or Snapdragon 820, which a leaked Qualcomm roadmap recently pipped for late 2015. Both of these chips are 64-bit octa-core demons, which will bring unrivaled power management and system efficiency to the next Nexus devices.

qualcomm eye smartphone 628
Qualcomm's upcoming chips in 2015 will be revolutionary. © Qualcomm

Taipan vs ARM v8

If the leak can be believed, the Snapdragon 820 will introduce a new custom core architecture called Taipan. Besides having an awesome name, the successor to Krait will be an octa-core Qualcomm setup, not based on ARM v8, which the Snapdragon 810 uses. The Taipan architecture uses eight high-performance TS2 cores.

The Snapdragon 815 will stick with the ARM v8 big.LITTLE architecture, which switches out four of the high-performance TS2 cores for four lower-power TS1 cores. This provides lower power options for handling less processor-hungry demands, although all eight cores can be fired up to major tasks. Of course, the big.LITTLE setup is marginally less powerful than Taipan.

snapdragon 800 front closeup teaser
The new Qualcomm chips will be smaller and more powerful than ever before. © ANDROIDPIT

14 nm vs 20 nm

This is where it gets a little technical. The two new Qualcomm chips will be built using different semiconductor fabrication standards too: the Snapdragon 815 will be built using the 20 nm process and the Snapdragon 820 with the 14 nm process. As you can probably tell, the 14 nm process succeeds the 20 nm process.

I don't want to bore you with the technical details, but the difference between the two is basically an issue of scale: the 14 nm process packs taller and thinner transistor fins into less space. This makes the chip smaller and more power efficient, equaling better performance at lower cost.

snapdragon 800 back extreme closeup teaser
The 14 nm process gets transistors closer together with smaller, taller and thinner pins. © ANDROIDPIT

What this means for the new Nexus in 2015 is unparalleled performance with minimal power demands, coupled with the accumulated benefits of a year's worth of Android 5.0 Lollipop development on the software side with countless improvements to system demands and battery management. Plus, stock Android is the least demanding UI around.

This year's Nexus might just make you recalibrate your expectations of a Nexus battery, but you'll probably have Qualcomm to thank for the bulk of it.

How is your Nexus battery life? What do you think will be the biggest battery factor this year?

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Kris Carlon

Kris Carlon
Senior Editor

Kris is a former AndroidPIT Editor who came to the team via a lengthy period spent traveling and relying on technology to keep him in touch with the outside world. He can usually be found juggling three phones at once and poring over G+ posts, Reddit and RSS feeds.

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  • 1
    Dan Sheridan-Wallis Feb 21, 2015 Link to comment

    Sort out the searching for network issue when out of range and it'll have no issues! If I'm sat on WiFi all day or with strong signal I can have 40% battery at the end of the day, when signal is weak, its 4-5 hours until shutdown

  • 1
    Gregg Gusta Feb 19, 2015 Link to comment

    I am not as upset about the battery as the article makes it out to be. Everyone would always choose more battery and I'm no exception, but faster charging would be very desirable, especially while I am using it. It doesn't charge at all while in use. 7" 2013. I would prefer a larger screen (8 or 9) and higher res. Larger HD capacity, at least 128 GB. My use is more as my PC and tv with occasional voice. Better external keyboard, BT and WiFi connectivity. If the 2015 version isn't enough of a step forward, I'll just stick with my 2013 nexus until something fits the bill.

  • 11
    Random Username Feb 15, 2015 Link to comment

    The reason why Nexus phones have bad battery life is purely software. With Lollipop they now have a battery-saving mode. But what's still missing is a power-saving mode that doesn't limit the phones features like Sony's Stamina mode.

  • Ed Briggs 2
    Ed Briggs Jan 28, 2015 Link to comment

    I can't wait until the next Nexus phone comes out. It will have killer specs that will put previous gen phones to shame. I'm hoping for a 5.2" 1080p screen. Not everyone wants a phablet.

    • 1
      Andrew DiLillo Jan 28, 2015 Link to comment

      1080p!?! God I sure hope not. It should be 2k or 4k by 3 quarter this year. I think a big problem with the battery life is software, I rock a nexus 5 (infamous battery life) I root and put cm12 and I get 24-36 hours some days depending on use. If you ever look at your battery stats generally the screen is not the biggest user, at least for me. Another thing we might see in the next few years are solid state batteries, MIT has been researching and has made some big breakthroughs. These batteries are 5x as powerful per capita.

  • 6
    Jim V Jan 28, 2015 Link to comment

    This article is totally wrong.

    The biggest user of power on any phone is the display and by a pretty big margin. The CPU makes very little difference in comparison.

    There are only 2 ways the battery life on the next Nexus phone, or really any phone at all, will be much better.

    1. Increase the size of the battery to like 4,500mAh.
    2. Keep the 3,200mAh battery but decrease the screen to like 5" 720p.

    Ideally both of these would be best.

    It's really hard to say that a battery is "big" without looking at what the power requirements of the phone are and the biggest part of that is the screen (and indirectly the GPU). For a phone with a 4.5" 720p AMOLED a 3,000mAh battery is pretty good but increase that screen to like 6" and make it a QHD IPS LCD and 3,000mAh is pathetic.

    The battery life of the Nexus 5 is AWFUL and the battery life of the Nexus 6 isn't much better. There isn't a phone on the market that I would say has GOOD battery life. Just different levels of crappy.

    Batteries over the last few years have gotten bigger capacity but only due to larger physical size and not really improvements in technology but any increase in capacity is negated by the increased power draw of higher resolution screens.

    • Kris Carlon 35
      Kris Carlon Jan 28, 2015 Link to comment

      Of course you're right that the screen is the biggest power sucker (see my article, but the power optimizations of next-gen CPUs make a big difference to overall power consumption.

      Likewise, think about the big jump in battery savings following Lollipop - just because Google optimized Android better. So while your screen is always going to be sucking the most power, my point was that these new chips are going to be significantly more power efficient than ever before, meaning we'll get even better battery life out of whatever size battery the next Nexus has. Personal habits and screen-on time are always going to be dependent on how you use your phone.


      • 1
        KcK Jan 28, 2015 Link to comment

        I agree here. Screens are only on when we use it but any optimization for when the screen is off or when doing heavy as processing will help a lot too IMO.

  • 1
    R. Stephenson Jan 27, 2015 Link to comment

    Battery improvements are important as are the other technical aspects of our phones. I hope app developers build apps that are efficient When I first got my Nexus 6 I was disappointed with the battery life which would only get about 8 hours. I uninstalled Facebook and messenger app and my battery life is now 14 to 16 hrs.

    • 6
      Jim V Jan 28, 2015 Link to comment

      There is no way the Facebook apps were using that much power. The biggest usage of power is the screen. In comparison everything else is just a tiny trickle of power.

  • 7
    Pam O. Jan 27, 2015 Link to comment

    I get through a full day with my Nexus 6. I do look forward to improvements in this area and hope wireless charging continues to be included in the 2015 Nexus.

    Kris Carlon

    • Kris Carlon 35
      Kris Carlon Jan 27, 2015 Link to comment

      I think battery is the last frontier for smartphones. Cameras are outstanding (every OEM just needs to catch up), screens are awesome and software is always improving, but battery life is the one aspect still stuck in the Dark Ages. Whoever cracks the next big thing in battery tech will rule the world.

      Jim V

      • 6
        Jim V Jan 28, 2015 Link to comment

        True. Until we have some new battery technology that destroys lithium ion in terms of capacity we will be stuck with crappy battery life. Also, since QHD is becoming more common the problem is just going to get worse. Both the Nexus 5 and Nexus 6 have shitty battery life and it's because they both have pathetic batteries for their respective hardware. A 2,300mAh battery for a 5" 1080p IPS LCD and a 3,200mAh battery for a 6" QHD AMOLED. Of course the battery life is going to suck.The Nexus 5 should have had no less than a 3,200mAh battery and the Nexus 6 should have had no less than a 4,500mAh battery if good battery life was the goal.

        Unless the next Nexus phone is going to drop the resolution down to like 720p or switch to a MASSIVE battery the battery life is going to suck and neither of those things seem very likely.

      • Kris Carlon 35
        Kris Carlon Jan 28, 2015 Link to comment

        How significant do you think rapid charging will become? Do you think being able to charge your phone is a few minutes makes up for it not getting through a day on a single charge? I mean, it's a Band-Aid and we'd all prefer not to still have to carry chargers around or look for sockets, but if that process only takes 10 minutes it's better than nothing. Still, new technology is clearly needed, even if new CPUs, software optimizations and more keep improving.


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