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Treo 680 Battery: Review Part 7

Treo 680 Battery[Update: The original spare Palm 1200mAh battery for your Treo 680 and forthcoming Treo 750 is finally available in the Treonauts Accessories Shop.

Update2: You can now also have a 2400mAh Treo 680 Extended Battery and Treo 750 Extended Battery.]

As most Treonauts will undoubtedly already know, the new Treo 680 has the rather pleasing benefit and distinct advantage of being the lightest and slimmest PalmOS Treo smartphone to have been released to date (see Treo 680 Review Part 2: Form-Factor Design).

Evidently, one of the most important reasons why the Treo 680 was able to slim down is the fact that Palm has used a 6mm thick 1200mAh battery instead of the 10mm thick 1800mAh standard Treo battery found on the 650 and 700p – a 4mm difference.

Comparing both batteries you will immediately be able to calculate that the 1800mAh has 50% more capacity than the 1200mAh or looked at another way the 1200mAh has 33% less capacity than the 1800mAh one.  Therefore, if we know that the standard 1800mAh Treo 650 battery had a ‘Talk Time’ performance of 5 to 6 hours (300 to 360 minutes) we would have to assume that the 1200mAh battery found on the Treo 680 has a talk time performance of between 3 hours 20 minutes and 4 hours (200 to 240 minutes) – or again 33% less than the 1800mAh.

Palm’s official Treo 680 Talk and Standby times (see Treo 680 Comparison Chart) lists 4 hours and 300 hours (12.5 days) respectively – well within range of the above calculations.  Over the past week however some Treonauts have complained that they are unable to achieve these rated times and finding that they are having large drops in battery life with minimal usage.  I therefore decided to take a much closer look at the overall Treo 680 battery performance – a rather long, meticulous and painstaking process as you will be able to appreciate below.

Please Note: Although I have now had the opportunity to perform multiple battery tests I am neither an electrical engineer nor do I benefit from any sort of professional measuring equipment.  Thus, any results should be considered as those of just _one_ user and not necessarily indicative of those that others might experience.  Additionally, it should also be noted that there are dozens of settings which can influence your individual battery life (such as Bluetooth, screen brightness, etc.) and therefore battery performance will vary greatly between users (for example my screen brightness is always set to maximum to the detriment of greater battery life).

Treo 680 Battery Tests

1. Discharge Tests
The first test that I performed was a ‘Discharge Test’ using an application called Battery TIME.  As the name of the application suggests, this free utility allows me to get the exact “Elapsed Time” with the screen ‘always on’ between a 100% fully charged Treo battery until it reaches 10% capacity.  After this I can easily extrapolate what the full 100% time would be.

Treo 680 Battery TestI tested using Battery TIME on a Palm Treo 680 Unlocked with a standard 1200mAh battery under the following conditions:

  • Phone Radio OFF (1) and ON (2)
  • Bluetooth OFF
  • Screen Brightness MAX
  • Infrared ON

The results are shown here on the right and as you can appreciate a Treo 680 battery used with the screen ‘Always On’ at maximum brightness (a highly unlikely occurrence under normal usage) still achieved a very respectable 4 hours 17minutes with the Radio ON.

Next I tested again using Battery TIME on a Palm Treo 680 Unlocked but this time using an 1800mAh battery from my old Treo 650 under exactly the same conditions as above (however because of time constraints only testing with the Phone OFF).

The results here on the right are meaningful and interesting on two fronts.  The first is that since the 1800mAh battery is 50% larger than the previous test I was expecting to see a “100% Battery Usage” time of some 6.5 hours (4.17 hours + 50%) but instead I got a result of nearly 7 hours here.

It thus appears that the standard 1200mAh battery on the Treo 680 has a different mAh/minute consumption (4.68) compared to the 1800mAh battery which comes in at 4.30 – but this 10% variance is not meaningful.  According to this test, if the 1200mAh battery had the same mAh/min consumption as the 1800mAh battery then we should have a 100% Battery Usage of 279mins instead of the current 257mins performance – again 22mins difference is not necessarily meaningful though without running full and repeated battery tests.

Having said this, as I mentioned before I am no electrical engineer nor a battery expert but this test would seem to suggest that for the standard Treo 680 battery (but not the Treo itself) is just mildly less efficient than the previous larger capacity standard Treo 650 battery.  In all fairness this may simply be due to the different circuitry found on the 1200mAh battery and is certainly in no way indicative of any sort of defect.

2. Talk Time Test
Possibly the most important test for most Treonauts will relate to the Talk Time performance.  For this test I first fully charged my Treo 680 battery (the light at the top left corner of the smartphone turns solid green), then placed a call to my home number and monitored the time elapsed until the battery completely died and my Treo switched off (settings were: BT OFF + Infrared ON).  (Please also note that as in any normal Treo call the screen automatically dimmed to Level 1 brightness where it stayed for the entire duration of the call).

Evidently, above all, I wanted to ensure that my Treo 680 would at the very least match Palm’s official rated 4hours of talk time and on this front I’m very glad to report that it did.  The screenshot here on the right clearly shows that my call duration has been 4hours and that I still have 33% battery power remaining. 

Independent of any issues that some Treonauts might feel they are having with their Treo 680 this clearly shows that Palm has not been in any way misleading about its talk time performance.

Unfortunately because of a technical error on my part you will have to wait for an update tomorrow so that I can let you know exactly just how much longer the call lasted beyond 4hours since I was unable to get the Call Duration data from my Call Log…

Treo 680 Battery Optimization Tips
As I mentioned earlier every Treonaut will have a slightly different battery performance on his or her Treo 680 – quite normal given that everyone will have different settings and usage patterns.  Havind said this, below are a few basic tips to help you modify some of the settings on your Treo to optimize battery performance:

Go to Prefs > Power and:

  • Turn “Beam Receive” OFF
  • Set “Auto-off after” a 15 seconds
  • Set your “Screen Brightness” to a medium setting (3 or 4 clicks under MAX or even less)
  • Set “Dim backlight after” to 30 seconds

Other settings:

  • Turn Bluetooth OFF if/when you are not using a wireless headset or other BT device
  • Turn “Select Network” to MANUAL instead of Automatic (go to Phone > Options > Select Network and click on your carrier)
  • UPDATE: Go to Prefs > Date & Time > Set “Automatically set” to “Nothing” (this makes a very significant difference in power usage – thanks for the tip Casey.)
  • Disable “Active Polling” in Versamail or other 3rd party email solution
  • You can use a software utility called KB LightsOff to turn off the keyboard lights of your Treo when they are not needed
  • Also Phone Technician which will completely turn off your screen during a call to save even more battery life.

Conclusion
It’s a fact that I could be running battery tests for an entire year and likely get slightly different results every time.  Having said this, for me the most important thing running these tests has been to ensure that the official Treo 680 power ratings are correct – thankfully they were all well within range. 

Evidently, Treo 650 owners (particularly those that have been used to an extended battery) who recently upgraded to the 680 will likely be the ones to complain most vociferously about the new battery performance.  However they will have to remember that this is one of the compromises that they will need to make in order to benefit from the new lighter and slimmer form-factor of the Treo 680.

At the same time, both a spare original spare Palm 1200mAh battery and 2400mAh Treo 680 Extended Battery should soon become available giving Treonauts more power options.  In the meantime, regularly charging your Treo overnight and during the day depending on your usage will be a pretty simple and effective way to always keep your Treo fully powered.

Treonauts are always extremely meticulous


Posted by Andrew on December 7, 2006 at 05:49 PM

Treo 680 Review

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Comments

1
by andrew | Dec 7, 2006 6:12:10 PM

i use the keyshade hack to turn off the keyboard keys cause you really don't need it during the day. i also use the latest profile's program optimized for th 680. another fun fact is that the provided usb sync cable's charges the phone quite nicely. so i leave my charge cable at home and my usb sync cable in my laptop bag

2
by Howj Doin | Dec 7, 2006 7:33:13 PM

Hey Andrew!
Thanks for reviewS!After a looong frustrated wait I got my 680 the day Palm shops at JFK airport received their first shipments.I am very pleased with my "arctic buddy" so far battery life clearly is a issue but I use a similar simple solution : bought a car charger,so in the office I use my charger at home and anywhere else I use my laptop and in the car my car charger,it's like a 24/7 power service.

3
by Dave | Dec 7, 2006 7:59:33 PM

Is there an option to have the background of the screen be black instead of white all the time? I would think that not having as many pixels illuminated would ease the load on the battery. I dont own a Treo yet and, like Andrew, am not an electrical engineer. I've ordered the 680 this morning.

4
by Marc | Dec 7, 2006 9:28:00 PM

Andrew -

I really appreciate your battery optimization tips. Although I am a loyal Treo 700p user, it was nice to see what features I could turn off or change to extend my overall battery life. Keep the tips coming!

5
by spinteews | Dec 7, 2006 9:48:53 PM

:-(

Fully charged Treo 680. I start the day at 8am PST and end at 7pm. That's just my work time, then sometimes I will go out at night till whenever. I start with full 100% battery. Usually around 6:30pm PST i'm anywhere from 15% - 5%. Right now as I type this on my work computer, my 680 is down to 5%. I do the following...

Bluetooth off
Beam off
Screen brightness is 2 clicks to the right
screen shuts off after 1 minute, (changed it to 15 secs and going to test it tomorrow)

I do multiple email checks all day long. Multiple phone calls, minimal web browsing, plenty of texting, showing friends and co-workers my new phone (lol)

Sigh, we need a extended 1800MAH batter soon

6
by Doug | Dec 7, 2006 9:54:41 PM

How many hours are in your days?

"Palm’s official Treo 680 Talk and Standby times (see Treo 680 Comparison Chart) lists 4 hours and 300 hours (5 days) respectively"

I calculate 300 hours = 12.5 days, not 5 days.

7
by Anonymous | Dec 7, 2006 9:54:56 PM

Having the background of the screen be black instead of white makes no difference in this case, because it's not really the pixels that are sucking up most of the battery power - it's the backlight, which remains ON at the exact same intensity whatever colour the screen displays.

8
by A. Davis | Dec 8, 2006 12:20:48 AM

Try using a "constantly checking" email app and your results will not hold up compared to the 650's stock battery. Comparing my 650 (with stock battery) to my 680 (with stock battery), both installed with GoodLink and ChatterEmail (checking 3 POP accounts every 15min), at the end of the day, my 650 has around 50% battery remaining while my 680 is showing red and under 10% battery. I've done all the optimizations (reducing screen blank time, disabling IR, etc). I've even switched CE to check every 30min instead of every 15min, but have only improved things minimally. I truly believe the battery issues might be data connection related. If I turn my BT radio on (not using it, just on), I can't make it a full day without having to recharge. For now, I've ordered a spare, stock Palm 680 battery and if Seidio extra capacity battery doesn't make my case bigger, I'll get it.

In any case, I'd be very interested in seeing you compare email results and a 24x7 internet connection and see if you get such good run times. My guess is, you won't.

9
by Douglas J. Boehme | Dec 8, 2006 2:47:42 AM

When upgrading from my Treo 650 to my 680, I hotsynced, my 650 and then hotsynced my 680. The battery drain was HUGE! Doing a hard reset followed by a clean install of all apps resulted in a much better battery drain profile on the 680.

10
by Jeff | Dec 8, 2006 3:21:28 AM

I have also found that data usage seems to zap my Treo 680 (with stock battery) SIGNIFICANTLY faster than my Treo 650 (with stock battery).

I have the EXACT same settings on both devices... at the end of a day with the 650, I am usually at about 50%. With the 680, I'm recharging in the afternoon when the battery is at ~15%. It's disappointing.

Another disappointing "feature" of the 680 is one you alluded to in your article, Andrew... the phone software now does NOT show the call durations. I was happy to see that my call log from the 650 transfered just fine, but was VERY disappointed that the call durations have gone missing. Anyone found a way to get them back or a program to automatically get them?
-Jeff

11
by jon | Dec 8, 2006 7:44:36 AM

Andrew,

Goodlink Question:

THe 680 will not allow me to save any missed calls or even dialed calls (that arent already a part of my contacts) into the goodlink directory. It will only allow me to save them into my palm contacts directory. Any help on this matter? 650 did this with no problem.

12
by Tom | Dec 8, 2006 9:07:28 AM

A bit off topic, but I noticed on all of the Treonaut's screenshots, the Palm OS buttons are colored and shaded as opposed to a flat, one color button on my 680. Is this 3rd-party software or is my phone simple not updated?

13
by Doug | Dec 8, 2006 9:19:34 AM

Andrew,

Will you being testing 'Standby' times on the new 680?

From post on this site, and Palm's, I've seen a number of 680s unable to last more than 3 days (72 hours), including two of mine, in standby mode. And at a rating of up to 300 hours (12.5 days) for standby, I'd like to hear if anyone has a Treo 680 that lasts past even three days themselves.

I think that is the real Power issue with the 680.

14
by Ron LaPedis | Dec 8, 2006 10:15:20 AM

Where did you get a version of profiles for the 680? Even on Milan's webp age the latest is 1.02t for the 700. Will this work on the 680?

15
by Dave | Dec 8, 2006 10:21:27 AM

Correspondence with Seidio confirms that they will have an extended life battery to market within the next 2-3 weeks. Hopefully, this will mitigate any battery drain issues for 680 users. They did not make pricing available.

16
by Casey Carter | Dec 8, 2006 10:30:07 AM

Battery problems????? Go to prefs, date & time. Change the top setting (sorry, don't have my treo in front of me) that automatically sets date/time & change it to do nothing, i.e. don't automatically set anything.

I was having terrible battery life (1 day or less). After changing this setting, my battery is lasting about 2-3 times longer.

Hope that helps.

17
by A. Davis | Dec 8, 2006 12:06:49 PM

Jon & Jeff: the 680 has changed the way Contacts are done as has Good. With the 650, the Contacts was actually called Address Book. I hated the way Good integrated into the contacts because it blocked other apps (such as ChatterEmail) from reading from them. Same for SMS. I would typically install Good, then remove the Good Contacts piece, then BT sync to Outlook for my real contacts to be in my Treo. With the 680, there is no more "Address Book". Its called Contacts now. When Good is installed, it overwrites this, but has been updated to allow third party apps to access it. Thus, the Good Contacts replaces the Palm Contacts, but SMS and ChatterEmail can access it, still.

All - Interesting thing... I mentioned earlier that I believe some of the drain issues are data connection related. Here's what I've noticed and what I think is now fixed. My 650 used to get 4 to 5 bars at all times. My SLVR gets the same good reception (this is at my office all day long). For the week I've had my 680, its been getting 1 to 2 bars, while the SLVR is still getting 4 to 5. Thus, I assumed the 680 had a radio problem and the lower signal was leading to battery drain, made worse by my 24x7 data connection. However, last night, for about an hour, I couldn't get onto Cingular's network at all. I was about to call Cingular support, but reset once more first and was able to get connected. Interestingly, I now have a solid 3 to 4 bars. I think Cingular made an update to their towers last night that improved things. Now here's the interesting observation... I typically charge my 680 each night and it gets pulled out of the charger when I wake up at 5am. For the last week, I've been at around 80% remaining battery by 8am. This has been consistent. Do some simple math and you see I can expect about 15 hours of usable life in between charges. However, this morning, its 9am my time and I'm at 87% remaining battery. Nothing else on my 680 has changed, but I'm seeing a significant improvement. I'm concluding that poor reception is leading to battery drain, especially with 24x7 data connections and that whatever Cingular did on their network to improve this, is now helping my reception and improving my battery.

Now, many Treo users aren't complaining about battery like others of us are. I know, for myself, when I'm at work, I'm in the old AT&T (blue) network. Perhaps its those of us on the older towers that are having problems and that as Cingular updates them, our battery life will improve?

18
by Martin Egholm | Dec 8, 2006 3:50:46 PM

Casey Carter #16:
Disabling automatic time/date updates improved it that much - really? Indeed I'm going to try disabling this!

Ron LaPedis #14:
There's is a 1.03t on his webpage - supporting 680 in beta - haven't tried it - yet! (I will, as soon as I feel comfortable with the battery life)
http://www.kwik.cz/palm/treo/profiles/

Doug #13:
Yeah, I would like to see some standby/passive measurements, as well. These are the ones I'm concerned with the most - since I'm not a talker...

19
by Andrew | Dec 8, 2006 4:13:08 PM

Doug - there are typically 60 hours in my days... ;-))

Dave - yes, Phone Technician can turn your screen off during a call to save you battery life. http://software.treonauts.com/product.asp?id=529

Jeff - I agree, I'm also rather annoyed that the Call Duration has disappeared from the Call Log...

Tom - the application that I use which 'skins' my Treo is called Palm Revolt. http://software.treonauts.com/product.asp?id=1153

Doug - a Standby Time test will not be meaningful. As I mentioned elsewhere I believe that Palm's standby time is rated with the radio off and no usage (basically you switched it off and put it in a drawer). Like that it can easily last 12.5days before the battery runs out.

Casey - thanks for your tip. I've now changed the Date & Time on my Treo 680.

A. Davis - as always thanks for your detailed comment.

Cheers, A.

20
by scott | Dec 8, 2006 10:57:06 PM

i am SOO sick of seeing 680 after 680 articles. ENOUGH. how about some something on some new apps for the 700p?

21
by Michelle Ernst | Dec 8, 2006 11:34:20 PM

I got my copper Treo 680 on Monday and I LOVE it! I upgraded from a Palm T/X so I am new to the Treo world, but not Palm OS. Did I mention that I LOVE my copper Treo?! Anyhow, if someone comes out with an extended battery that requires a new battery door, do you think they will have them to match the Palm colors? This may be trivial to some, but I really don't want to give up my copper color door.

22
by gerard | Dec 9, 2006 5:45:33 AM

No, Standby time means your phone is active and ready for receiving voice calls. So the GSM radio has to be on.
Data connections (GPRS/EDGE) are not.
This standby time is heavily influenced by the signal strength. My Tungsten|W has 240h or 10 days standby time. Without use it lasts easy up to seven days. For my use, I charge 2 or 3 times a week.
During holiday, I was in a place with nearly no reception and the battery needed to charge every day and sometimes the radio was shutdown, because the battery has reached the alarm level.

23
by Andrew | Dec 9, 2006 7:25:29 AM

Scott - I'm sure that you appreciated me focusing on the Treo 700p when it was released for you so please bear with me while I cycle through the Treo 680 reviews and help new Treonauts...

Evidently I hope that you will also see that many points that I make about the Treo 680 are also valid for other PalmOS smartphones such as your 700p.

Having said all this, as I've mentioned elsewhere I will continue my dedication on all Treo smartphones and not only the 680 shortly.

Cheers, A.

24
by Ben | Dec 9, 2006 12:36:15 PM

I've been a 650 user for two years, and have owned MANY other Palms and cell phones. Of course, I was expecting the 680 to have shorter battery life than the 650, but since I was able to get 2 or 3 days of regular use out of my 650, I figured I'd be able to get at least half that out of the 680 and was hoping for more. But I can't even get a full day when the phone is simply sitting there doing nothing. Sitting still, it's down to 10 or 15% by 4 in the afternoon.

Yes, I've turned off bluetooth and IR and so on and so forth. And I could tell you exactly how many minutes I've used and so on and so forth, and maybe someone could argue that if I did something different I'd pick up an extra few percent, but all of this maniacal configuration and battery conditioning and so forth just to pick up a few percent is ridiculous. I paid $400 for this phone, I took it out of the box, and it's not usable for a full day. Now I'm told that I'll be able to buy a higher capacity battery. So, I'm supposed to accept that for $400 I don't get a usable product? Golly, what a great deal!

I thought this was supposed to be the phone that was going to introduce the Treo to a mass market. Do you really think the average "beginning" user is going to be interested in taking the time to learn how to condition a battery, or is willing to wait two weeks for their battery performance to get up to a full day's use? I'm a nerd, so I don't mind tweaking this setting or that setting, but the typical mass market user is not interested in having to adjust their network time settings, or their automatic network selection. And, the fact is, they shouldn't have to. Also, they're probably not going to be interested or have the time in searching around on the web for nerdy Treo sites. They want it to be like their other cell phones: you buy the product, and you can use it as advertised right away. That's not the case with the 680.

Given that my 650 was very unstable and the 680 has such abysmal battery performance, I'd love to switch to a different platform, since Palm's products are so consistently unreliable and unstable. Unfortunately, they really do have the best OS, so I'm stuck with their crappy hardware.

I'm running an unlocked 680 on the T-Mo network, by the way.

25
by cc | Dec 9, 2006 2:01:59 PM

Question on the 4hr talk - was that a real 4hr convo or just an idle test?
I ask because I wonder if idle vs active speaking bares any affect on the power consumption.. thinking of how it can strain more use on the hardware (vocoder, speaker, etc)

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