Do we really want longer battery life in our phones?

Christopher Mims over at the Wall Street Journal ($) argues that Apple, Samsung, et al. should stop worrying about making smart phones so thin. Instead, he says, give us longer battery life.

I agree. I’d love to have batteries that last longer in my phone.

Mims points to a survey of consumers which found that improved battery life is the “No. 1 thing on their wish list.”

Maybe, maybe not.

I’m reminded of a study I read about years ago. A manufacturer of washing machines surveyed consumers to ask what was important to them. The company wanted to know whether consumers wanted a more basic, inexpensive machine or a full-featured one with a higher price tag. The survey results overwhelmingly said a more basic, inexpensive machine was more desired among consumers. So the company built lots of those.

The company nearly went broke due to poor sales. It turns out that consumers answering the survey wanted to appear to be responsible, frugal stewards of their household resources. But in reality, they wanted the machine that would do it all, even at a higher price.

It seems to me the analysis offered by Mims is on target. We don’t need thinner phones—we can live with the current thicknesses offered by the manufacturers. (Do we really want a phone so thin it could be dropped down into the window space inside your car door? You just know that would happen to someone.) But we do want improved battery life.

It’s probably too late for Apple to make big changes in the iPhone 7 that I expect this fall. That design work is done. Better battery life in the present form factor of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus would be a big win. But Apple’s engineering and  design teams may have already been told “thin is in,” and have created another sleeker, mind-blowingly thin device.

I would happily trade a few grams (or more than a few) and a bit larger form factor if the battery life is noticeably better. Let’s hope the reviewers out there start clamoring for the same and that the phone designers hear them.

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Password (mis)management on your iPhone or iPad

Apple’s App Store is stuffed to the gills with apps that are supposed to help you manage your passwords on your iPad or iPhone. Some are free, some are not. Some do the job well, and some are, well…junk.

Technology and security expert Steve Gibson took a look at many of these apps in a recent episode of his podcast Security Now! You can read the transcript or listen. For anyone with an iOS device, this really should be required material. If you’re keeping your passwords in a “vault” on your iPhone, you will want to make sure that your vault actually works.

iPad 3

The word is out: March 7 will be the date when Apple, Inc. will reveal the next iPad, presumably to be called the iPad 3. It sounds like the new iteration of this magical device will sport a higher definition display and a faster processor.

As the user of an original iPad, I’m thinking that this might be the time to upgrade. I have noticed that at times my iPad seems to do things a little more slowly than newer models. It is not a huge bother, though. A nicer display is, well, nice. I don’t know, however, that it would be enough to justify the upgrade. The desire to not be seen toting older technology may be the only justification I can come up with.

Still, we will see what the new specs are and what the new device can do that my iPad can’t. Speed isn’t a huge issue since I do a lot of reading on my iPad—and a faster processor won’t make me read any faster. I don’t need a camera (although doing Face Time on my iPad would be a nice plus) since I have the terrific camera in the iPhone 4S. If there’s something really new, cool and useful, I may find myself unable to resist the urge.

What would you need to see on the iPad 3 to justify purchasing a new one?