Battery life complaints causing operator headaches

Smartphone manufacturers are leaving customers disappointed with their operators by not quoting battery performance in a way that reflects day-to-day use, according to a study published today.

Customer experience specialist WDS analysed the battery life of 50 of the top smartphones launched over the past year and compared them alongside two million technical support calls taken on behalf of global mobile operators and handset manufacturers.

The findings showed that, for the majority, the battery life of handsets was not quoted in a way that represented how consumers use their devices. This has led to operators fielding four times as many calls regarding battery performance than they received in 2008. As a result, customer service calls relating to battery usage have now risen to make up ten per cent of all hardware related technical support calls.

Despite activities such as web browsing, watching videos and using downloadable apps have become an everyday part of smartphone use, their impact on battery performance is largely excluded from the data published by manufacturers. Only two of the 50 devices that were reviewed by WDS included information on expected battery life for web browsing –  Apple’s iPhone 4S and Nokia’s N9. Instead, consumers are typically left to make comparisons based on stand-by time and 2G talk-time.

“The majority of manufacturers simply publish stand-by and talk-time figures, which have the lowest drain on smartphone battery performance,” explained Tim Deluca-Smith, VP of marketing at WDS. “This means that when consumers start using their smartphones in earnest – downloading and using apps and browsing the web – they often find their battery lasts less than they expected.”

Another report from J.D. Power and Associates, released in March 2012, also suggested that those manufacturers who do publish more accurate battery life data benefit from customer loyalty, with Apple ranking highest in customer satisfaction among smartphone manufacturers.

“A vital aspect of customer experience is setting the right expectation. No single manufacturer can really overcome the limitations of today’s batteries, but they can take the lead in better informing customers,” added Deluca-Smith. “This will not only boost satisfaction, but will also save money for them and their mobile operator partners. Battery life is not something that a consumer can gauge in-store. Simply stating that a device has a 1700mAh battery is meaningless; performance data needs to be in line with real-world use.”

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