What am I? I am an electronic device. I need regular feeding or I’ll die. I am carried with you everywhere. What am I?
If you answered Tamagotchi, then you might have been correct in the mid-nineties, but back in the present, keeping our phones charged has become as habitual as looking after a pet, and forms part of most people’s daily routine.
At RealityMine, we decided to look into charging patterns to see what could be established from our passively collected panellist data. This chart demonstrates the percentage of time devices are on charge for each hour of the day.
We can see a clear pattern that the majority of time on charge is overnight, when people are asleep. This fits with common thinking that people put their phone on charge before they go to bed. This highlights the demand and expectation of the consumer; most users of smartphones want their battery to last the day and will recharge it at night.
What is surprising is the peak at 2pm – this could be down to poorly performing phones which need a ‘top up’ at this time of the day, or it could be an indication of users who have forgotten to charge their phone the night before. While we could have possibly predicted that the majority of ‘charge time’ would be overnight, the spike at 2pm is the sort of information that can only be seen by passively monitoring this type of behaviour.
At the forefront of any app developers mind is the impact their software will have on battery life. Battery performance, along with data use and storage space, form three of the main bugbears for smartphone users and developers & manufacturers alike look to get all the information they can on battery use, as they attempt to optimise functionality so customers can use their phones for longer.
The data we collect at RealityMine can also be used to look into how consumers use different types of apps. Here we have a select sample of commonly used apps split by the time they were used on and off charge.
The mean use of these apps when on charge is 27% of the total time used and the majority of apps show use patterns which are close to this summary. There are a few notable exceptions which do not fit this trend. The BlackBerry Clock, for example, is on charge for 79% of its total use owing to the fact that the app is launched when the phone is left on charge.
Similarly, the iPod app on iPhone is used on charge 49% of the time. We can predict that this figure is influenced by using a docking station for speakers for the app which inflates the use time spent on charge. Google Maps also shows a relatively high proportion of use when on charge. This may be attributed to people using the app in car as an alternative to a sat-nav and may have in car chargers.
We are only scratching the surface here on the insights we can establish from this information and the view it can present of how consumers use their devices. Real-world data on how mobile battery is being used can help improve people’s experience of using smartphones and battery life will continue to be in the vital statistics of any new handset which comes to market.