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back to article Blurred lines: Android e-ink mobe claims TWO-WEEK battery life

Chinese handset manufacturer Onyx has announced the 3G OnyxPhone E43, a mobile-phone-cum-e-reader, claiming a whopping two weeks on its 1800mAh battery. The e-ink smartphone has a 4.3-inch display which dramatically improves battery life. How long it lasts will of course depend on how much you use it; e-ink only uses power when …

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Anonymous Coward

If you go back to an old 2G phone with no apps and internet then the battery life will be good.

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If you go back to an old 2G phone

with no apps and internet then the battery life will be good.

On the principle of "more is better" and extrapolating from your advice to go back in time for an answer to the vexing battery life conundrum, Mr Coward, I reactivated my Motorola TAC analogue phone from 1995.

Coverage was sparse, the contract was usurious and for all that I got a battery talk life of 15 minutes.

So much for the knowledge base of Register Commentators.

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Re: If you go back to an old 2G phone

I recently replaced the battery on my Motorola L7, which cost £30 unlocked, a few years ago. The new battery lasts me 10-15 days, depending on talk time, signal strength etc.

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2G

You know many Operators have been conned by Vendors and have permission in some countries to switch off 2G replacing it with 3G?

Even though 3G for voice only is inferior to modern 2G implementations as it has nasty cell breathing due to being based on horrid CDMA.

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Paris Hilton

Gingerbread?

Does anyone know, why they chose Gingerbread? Quite an odd design choice!

Otherwise it sounds like an interesting idea to use e-ink.

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TRT
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Re: Gingerbread?

It's not the first. There's that dual screen hybrid model from Russia IIRC...

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FAIL

Re: Gingerbread?

Because it's an obsolete e-Reader with a cellular modem bolted in to it. It's not an "e-Ink smartphone".

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Re: Gingerbread?

A 4.3 inch e-reader? The form-factor seems very much to be phone territory to me.

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Yota phone

Yes, there are a few e-ink options as additions to phones, I rather like the clip on cover for the Alcatel Hero, but if you stil have an OLED to power you don't get the battery saving.

SImon

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Re: Yota phone

You do save battery life, if OLED is only occasionally on.

Frankly, Android seems odd choice for mobile phone with e-ink screen. I would think that "dumb" user interface would be better, since there would be less to interact with (e-ink screens are not very good at "interaction", as in "bit slow").

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Re: Yota phone

And you don't think the early LCDs were the same?

I remember trying to play a pinball game on my father's Pentium 120MHz laptop circa 1996 with its passive-matrix LCD.

I quickly gave up when I couldn't tell which of the 6 balls was the real one and which ones were ghosts.

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older generation

"The high contrast and ability to scale fonts has made the Kindle very popular with the older generation"

hmm... or maybe because that generation still know how to read.

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Unhappy

Re: older generation, scaled fonts and e-ink

Trouble is, if you scale up a font, each letter takes up more of the screen - so even a 7inch Kindle is too small, and a 4 inch phone induces logoclaustrophobia, in people of all ages. I'd be interested in a 10inch netbook version, though.

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"hmm... or maybe because that generation still know how to read."

I suppose all of those kids spending their lives online are just staring blankly at those strange letter thingies on the web pages they visit?

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The Young 'uns

...just stare at you-tube videos.

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Headmaster

Re: older generation

If the kids can't read, you have to wonder why they send so many texts to each other.

ACSII art pictograms I suppose.

(Let's all ignore the statistics that literacy rates have been at 99% in the uk for the last thirty years)

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It's the radio

I have a blackberry Z10 with the SIM card out of it that lasts a week switched on with occasional use and no 3G transmission. Put a SIM card in it and the life drops to a day.

Sure, the display eats a lot of juice; but I'd imagine the radio takes more

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Re: It's not the radio

There are plenty of (dumb) mobiles out there where the battery will last a week or longer. that despite the battery being a lot smaller than on a smartphone. It's the display and the high-power smartphone CPU and software that eats the battery faster than the radio, with one caveat. That is, you're in a good mobile signal area. Moving from a 4-bar area to a one-bar area cuts the battery life of my dumb phone from about a week to around a day, and that's before I use it as a phone.

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Boffin

Re: It's the radio

It's not the radio - per se - I think. 2G and 3G radios are actually quite efficient, it's all the apps within the phone that are constantly *using* the radio. My wife and I have recently acquired Moto G phones. Our first ever Android devices and we're not entirely happy, *but* my wife can manage 10 days on a battery charge and I usually manage 6 or 7. Not one of the reviewers we read managed more than 2 or 3 and for why? We have turned off (and disabled) all the twittering apps, the tracking apps, the "please tell Google exactly what I'm doing, where, every minute of every day" apps, the apps which tell you when your Facebooking friends(*) upload a new photograph of themselves sitting on the train and the other data-allowance-wasting apps(+).

So these apps are not constantly calling home, or using the GPS, or sucking data from next-door's WiFi, and so the radios (for there are many in a modern phone) can sit idle for most of the time. On top of that the 4-core processor can power down and slow down most of the time, just keeping enough going to listen for genuine communications from real people - i.e. telephone calls and text messages.

We don't make loads of calls, though we do text a fair bit. The main difference between my use and my wife's is probably that I use the web browser a bit more often. We've disabled Chrome and use Opera (yes, yes, I know the latest version is based on the same engine) but at least Opera stays out of your way when you don't want it and can reduce the amount of data per web page. We do take occasional photographs and video.

10 days would be about average for that use on a 2G or 3G "feature phone" - which is what we have always had previously - and while the G obviously does use more power (it's battery is about twice the capacity of most featurephone batteries) it isn't anywhere near as bad as people suggest.

I can't wait for the day when we no longer have to listen to Radio 4 presenters asking us to "tweet" the programme, or "follow it on Facebook" and that day will surely come, just as the day came when it was no longer considered mandatory to have a fax number or (before that) a telex address.

Old fogey? Me?

(*)Come to think of it, I can't actually name any friends who *do* use Facebook, or who tweet regularly.

(+)we have a 250MB monthly data allowance and rarely use more than a fifth of that. I had a phone bill today; £18 (inc VAT) for the two phones. £6 a month rental (+VAT) and a few extra bits.

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Boffin

Re: It's the radio

" We have turned off (and disabled) all the twittering apps, the tracking apps, the "please tell Google exactly what I'm doing, where, every minute of every day" apps, the apps which tell you when your Facebooking friends(*) upload a new photograph of themselves sitting on the train and the other data-allowance-wasting apps(+).

So these apps are not constantly calling home, or using the GPS, or sucking data from next-door's WiFi, and so the radios (for there are many in a modern phone) can sit idle for most of the time. On top of that the 4-core processor can power down and slow down most of the time, just keeping enough going to listen for genuine communications from real people - i.e. telephone calls and text messages."

Damm right.

But what about the yoof and their constant need to know who/what/why/where/when how all their real and fapbook friends are every millisecond?

(No personally I don't give a f**k either, but htey are quite big buyers of this stuff).

When people write up embedded Linux and "1 second boot" systems the #1 common power drain seems to be the backlight on the screen. Figures of 5W seem to be quite common.

Despite this AFAIK no mfg lets you turn it completely off.

Of course doing so would mean phone mfgs would recognize that frankly no one gives a s**t about their UI until they need to make/receive a phone call.

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Pint

Re: It's the radio

I'm raising a pint to you fellows - because damn, you're bitter!

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Megaphone

Look to wifi and mobile data for power saving

I have an HTC Desire running Android 2.2 and if I turn off mobile data and wifi the battery lasts ages - easily a week. That's with occasional use as a "dumb phone" and light app usage (like game play). Turn them back on and I have to recharge every day. It is NOT the screen.

However, the Russian device with eInk on the back (http://yotaphone.com/#/en/) is a great idea because then I could dump my mobile boarding QR code on it and not worry about whether the phone has turned off and locked the screen when approaching the security and gate checkpoints when flying.

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Re: Look to wifi and mobile data for power saving

Disabling GPS when you're not using it is another good way to save power.

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I would love to see an Android flip phone with an e-ink outer display.

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there's an e-ink other half for jolla that might interest you. Downside, you might have to build it yourself.

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does this put the second display on the rear?

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More of this sort of thing, please!

Even if I don't actually want one.

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Neat idea

Utterly useless for me, of course. The way I use my smartphone doesn't lend itself to e-ink I'm afraid. Still a neat idea though.

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Why 4" screen. get a dumb phone, e-ink on that.

3G radio and BT for tethering.

Then the phone does it's bit well, and your tablet/pc can do the bit that it does well...

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Anonymous Coward

Because (in the UK at least,) mobile phone networks charge through the nose for 'mobile data' sims for use in 3G dongles. You can get much better deals by getting a sim intended for a phone that allows tethering. The downside is that some networks will give you trouble if you use a phone sim in a 3G dongle.

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Hence the feature phone with 3G and Bluetooth.

I'd not call the Nokia C3-01 smart - but it provides me with my data connection (which costs ~£5pcm)

OK, not for alot of data, but I've only exceeded 50MB in a month once, and my package is more than that...

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Unhappy

"older users find actions like pinching, tapping, double-tapping and swiping confusing"

Citation needed. As a 58 yr old snr developer currently doing mobile, I don't seem to have a problem. My wife's dad is 83, he seems to cope fairly well. Older than what, exactly? Time itself?

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Re: "older users find actions like pinching, tapping, double-tapping and swiping confusing"

Citation: BBC Click talks to University of Cambridge department of engineering.

But I agree it was a sweeping statement.

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Re: "older users find actions like pinching, tapping, double-tapping and swiping confusing"

Hmm. I watched it - didn't strike me so much as a usability issue, more a refusal to accept change issue.

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Bah!

Perhaps it should have been made clearer *which* model of Kindle is being used for explanatory purposes?

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Mushroom

Page turning to save power

Well, maybe but primarily because it's because the media is paged anyway and useful for the TOC and index and also because the eye copes much better with page turning than it does with scrolling. We only suffer with on web browsers because too few manufacturers have got round to implementing paged media extensions and have been pissing around with things like CSS regions instead!

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e-ink advances

Where are they? I remember reading a while ago about colour e-ink and higher refresh rates that might help increase battery life. Since then I've seen nothing and it's still the same black and white displays everywhere with AMOLED, LCD etc being used mostly. Has it all been forgotten about or am I missing it?

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Re: e-ink advances

The issue is that people have accepted the poor battery life of LCD based solutions, because for other than 'reading novels' they want 'I can watch a movie on it'.

Color e-ink readers have been utterly killed by inexpensive tablets.

(They exist, but you're looking at about $500 for a jetBook 2, and the color isn't all that great.)

It's getting hard to find a black and white e-ink reader with physical buttons. The touchscreen Kindle drives me absolutely insane. I don't know what I'll do when my Cybook Opus eventually gives up the ghost.

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