Treo 680 Battery: Review Part 7
[Update: The original spare Palm 1200mAh battery for your Treo 680 and forthcoming Treo 750 is finally available in the Treonauts Accessories Shop.
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.
I 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
- 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.
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…