Battery Life

Nailing performance is one thing, but in order to really sell Medfield and other upcoming SoCs to OEMs, Intel has to deliver battery life and power consumption that's competitive. It's about performance/power in the SoC space. First, it's worthwhile to note that the X900 includes a relatively small battery, at just 5.4 Whr. Of late, batteries over 6 Whr seems like the norm, and I'm told that future designs including the Motorola phone will probably include larger ones. It's just good to have that frame of reference and this chart should help:

Battery Capacity

Intel notes battery life in their own X900 announcement blast as being around 5 hours of continuous 3G browsing and 8 hours of talk time. Our own numbers end up being pretty darn close, at 4.6 hours and 8.5 hours for those two metrics, respectively. 

As a reminder, the browsing tests happen at 200 nits and consist of a few dozen pages loaded endlessly over WCDMA or WiFi (depending on the test) until the phone powers off. The WiFi hotspot tethering test consists of a single attached client streaming 128 kbps MP3 audio and loading four tabs of the page loading test through the handset over WCDMA with the display off. 

Web Browsing (Cellular 3G - EVDO or WCDMA)

As a smartphone the X900 does a bit below average here, but as we mentioned it also has an unusually small battery for a modern flagship Android smartphone. If we divide battery life by battery capacity, we can get a better idea for how the Medfield platform compares to the competition:

Normalized Battery Life - Web Browsing (Cellular 3G)

Normalizing for battery capacity, the X900 actually does a bit above average. In other words, the Medfield platform appears to be just as power efficient as some of the newer OMAP 4 based smartphones.

On WiFi the situation is no different:

Web Browsing (WiFi)

Again we see reasonable numbers for the X900 but nothing stellar. The good news is that the whole x86 can't be power efficient argument appears to be completely debunked with the release of a single device. To move up in the charts however, Intel needs to outfit its reference design with a bigger battery - something I've heard is coming with the Z2580's FFRD. The normalized results put the X900 at the middle of the pack:

Normalized Battery Life - Web Browsing (WiFi)

We see similar results in our talk time and 3G hotspot tests:

Cellular Talk Time

Normalized Battery Life - Cellular Talk Time

WiFi Hotspot Battery Life (3G)

Normalized Battery Life - WiFi Hotspot (3G)

GPU Performance Camera - Stills and Video
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  • Spunjji - Thursday, April 26, 2012 - link

    ...so, suddenly it becomes more than mere opinion when you say the opposite? You have to admit you're on shaky ground with that line of argument.

    "Could benefit from being thinner" isn't quite the same as "too thick". I suspect you mean the former?
    Reply
  • UltraTech79 - Thursday, April 26, 2012 - link

    Its not an opinion when its true. Phones should stay below 1CM thickness, and even 1CM is pretty beefy. Many people will not consider it due to this and not having a real huge advantage anywhere else.

    When all else is roughly the same, comfort and aesthetics decide a buy.
    Reply
  • phoenix_rizzen - Friday, April 27, 2012 - link

    1 cm is *way* too thin for anyone with "normal"-sized hands.

    Compare the aesthetics of holding/using a cordless phone, an office phone, a corded-phone, basically any phone handset other than a cell phone to a cell phone. Which feels more comfortable in your hand to speak into for more than 3 seconds? The one that fits nicely in the palm of your hand, that nicely curves with the natural lines of your hand (aka everything other than a cell)? Or the one with sharp edges, barely 1 cm thick, that requires you to use the muscles in the sides of your hands to grip, leading to cramping if you actually try to, you know, talk, on the phone?

    Today's cell phones are too thin, and battery life is suffering for it.
    Reply
  • fm123 - Friday, April 27, 2012 - link

    Definitely an opinion. If someone wants a keyboard it's going to be over 1 cm. There are people that put their phone in cases and the result is way over 1 cm. The Otterbox Defender is somewhat popular, and the phone becomes almost 3/4 inch thick. Reply
  • FrederickL - Thursday, April 26, 2012 - link


    On the general issue of "phone-thinness" rather than this phone in particular no doubt the same people who want the mobile equivalent of an anorexic catwalk model will then start howling about the battery life in their super-thin phone where there is scarcely room for a battery at all, let alone one with decent capacity. Perhaps we should be discussing the fact that some customers' contradictory "want my cake and eat it" demands indicate that the topic should be that some of the customers are too thick rather than the phones.
    Reply
  • mrtanner70 - Wednesday, April 25, 2012 - link

    I find the "a bigger battery is all we need" argument rather weird in the context of the thickness. It's not like Intel has not already considered this trade off. It's lighter than I expected though.

    The trouble with reviews like this (and this is not a criticism) is that SOC price is not considered, nor that fact that the mobile industry really would rather Intel, and its monopolistic/margin desires, stay away. Benchmarks (unless paradigm breaking) are not going to change that.

    So far, I do not believe Intel has a single true design win, they paid for them all.
    Reply
  • menting - Wednesday, April 25, 2012 - link

    profit margins for ARM and Intel as a whole company, if this page can be believed, are similar
    http://ycharts.com/companies/ARMH/profit_margin#se...
    Reply
  • menting - Wednesday, April 25, 2012 - link

    we dont know what that phone will cost in the US, but for a phone that costs $420 with that performance???? ARM will be pissing in their pants right now if it had the performance of A15 on that phone. Reply
  • duploxxx - Wednesday, April 25, 2012 - link

    Knowing that it can't keep up against already existing platforms introduced a while ago it is a failure. Don't see any reason why to buy this mobile phone, it doesn't have any added value against any other major competitor.

    not on price/power/performance.

    so it is doomed before it is even released.

    lets see what the tablet brings, but it doesn't look good at all. It all starts with the Atom which has never proven to be a good arch.....
    Reply
  • A5 - Wednesday, April 25, 2012 - link

    For a first attempt (Moorestown was always going to fail, so I don't count it :P) it really isn't that bad. It pretty handily beats the A9-class SoCs from last year while being somewhat competitive with the S4 running ICS. I'm curious to see if the Medfield ICS build gets better performance.

    I don't know how much Medfield phones will cost, but if it comes over here as a $420 off-contract device, that places it pretty firmly in the mid-range, where it would certainly be pretty competitive with the A9 devices that will be down there.
    Reply

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